PLATTSBURGH — CITEC Business Solutions is helping North Country manufacturers do their own problem solving.
Off-road vehicle track manufacturer Camso turned to the nonprofit when it needed cost-saving strategies, Production Coordinator Neil Flint said.
"We actually enrolled a few people in the Lean Six Sigma classes that CITEC offers," Flint said.
The multi-day program teaches the basics of two well-known methodologies — Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma — and then helps trainees utilize the tactics within their own company, the CITEC website says.
"You always want to empower and grow your talent inside," Flint said. "If you're starting as an entry-level employee, you don't have these lean methodologies — a lot of our shop-floor people don't have college degrees.
"What (CITEC) does is bring this to the table so we can empower our people to progress them up the ladder."
Citec is one of New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership's 10 regional centers.
The regional centers and the statewide center, FuzeHub, are all administered by Empire State Development's Division of Science, Technology and Innovation.
CITEC functions as a consultant and connects businesses to resources.
The organization also hosts training sessions to help employees develop the skills necessary to find solutions, improve workflow, enhance technologies and develop strategic plans.
CITEC Executive Director John Zielinski described the 30-year-old organization as a business collaborator, partner and facilitator that drives internal capability.
"It's about building capacity in the organizations to understand what process improvement, continuous improvement and the lean methodology has to offer," he said.
"Once it becomes ingrained in the culture, it's sustainable, it's repeatable, it's reproducible, and therefore your culture has a lot of quality components to it."
In 2017, CITEC assisted in $39 million worth of manufacturing impacts and created or retained 297 jobs in the North Country, a company flier says.
The regional center covers 13,000 square miles of New York — equal to 20 percent of the state — and has eight employees between their Plattsburgh and Potsdam offices, Zielinski said.
"We're small with a big impact and big footprint."
Camso's facility on Industrial Boulevard in the Town of Plattsburgh produces tracks for off-road vehicles such as forklifts and snowmobiles.
"We have roughly 98 percent of the snowmobile track market," Flint said.
The manufacturer supplies to Bombardier Inc., Polaris Industries, Arctic Cat and Yamaha Motor Company.
Michelin recently purchased Camso for $1.45 billion.
"Everyone knows that Michelin tires are huge, but their off-road division wasn't as strong as ours," Flint said.
"Really, the way we see it is a merger with a dollar figure attached."
After putting several employees through CITEC's training programs, Camso's quality assurance team recognized the company's high waste of raw materials, Flint said.
"Raw materials represent about 52 percent of our total costs," the production coordinator said. "Roughly we were around 2,000 kilograms (of scrap material)."
Camso worked with their supplier to increase the tolerance of incoming materials and, as a result, lowered their waste to 1,500 kilograms after three months.
The width of the material once had a 48 percent yield performance, but was upped to 92 percent as of the latest summary in June, Flint said.
The production coordinator said CITEC training enabled the facility's safety improvements that also tightened their budget.
"There is a cost attributed to accidents and injuries," Flint said.
CITEC Business Development Director Steve Lockwood said the North Country as a whole is lacking in the manufacturer department.
To generate revenue, CITEC also works with non-manufacturing companies as well, he said.
CITEC offers training for human resources positions and supervisors.
"We found a niche in providing entry-level supervisor skills," Lockwood said.
"In the state it's over 300 people, but in the Plattsburgh or Clinton County area it would be close to 200 new supervisors (that CITEC has trained)."
But the development director couldn't deny the local area's recent manufacturing growth.
Four or five years ago not much of CITEC's income came from Clinton County was low in CITEC revenue, he said.
"Now Clinton County is our highest source of revenue.
"We certainly have been able to tap into the companies here."
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