Shift Impact Report

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Helping WNY Manufacturers Innovate and Succeed


"We need to increase quality and reduce costs to maximize profitability."

"We need skilled employees."

''We know we need to innovate but don’t know where to start."

WE HEAR YOU That’s why we assembled a collaborative group of partners to create the Shift program in 2017. With funding from New York State through the Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan, Shift was designed to provide small to medium-sized manufacturers in Western New York with access to unparalleled expertise and assets — at no cost to them. The Shift program offers tailored, advanced manufacturing solutions that help to maximize production capabilities while minimizing organizational strain. Since the launch, our team of experts has proudly worked with more than 200 manufacturers, creating impact that contributes to economic growth in Western New York. Let’s move manufacturing forward — together.



Henry Cialone,

President and CEO of EWI

Helping WNY Manufacturers Innovate and Succeed

MOVE FORWARD WITH SHIFT Shift is a collaboration of three mission-driven partners that bring different areas of expertise to maximize impact for participants:

When a manufacturer comes to us to learn more about Shift, we like to start with a conversation — it's important for us to understand the problems to create solutions. Participants will be guided step-by-step through the process.





Complete a Business Assessment to evaluate manufacturers’ key business risks and capacity for innovation.

Participate in a series of workshops led by industry experts to learn about the latest technological and process innovations that position businesses for growth.

Schedule an Innovation Audit, led by EWI and Insyte engineering specialists, at the manufacturers’ facility to identify opportunities for innovation.

The time commitment needed to participate in this program depends on each situation and is ultimately up to the manufacturer. The Innovation Audit will be customized to any needs and constraints.

Shift Impact Report


SHIFTING CHANGE National Trends Small to medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) are falling behind, and many don’t have a plan to catch up. While technology is a solution for them, they cannot adopt technology or incorporate new process solutions due to a number of barriers and challenges. According to surveys conducted by the Manufacturing Leadership Council:

46% of respondents agreed that the rapid pace of emerging technologies is causing their company to fall behind in understanding their potential. 1

28% of respondents have a formal roadmap for adopting transformative technologies. 2


23% 23% 19%


Lack of conviction on ROI Lack of the right skills Lack of financial wherewithal

Regional Trends Through 2019, 100 Business Assessments were completed by SMMs in WNY participating in the Shift program. The Business Assessment is an annual survey including a series of questions to evaluate manufacturers’ key business risks and capacity for innovation. Among the Shift manufacturers who answered the survey, results reported: 4



Pressure to cut costs

Workforce management (hiring and retention)

22% Planning for, understanding and

Pressure to decrease lead time

communicating the value of technology

21% Funding/capital

20% Workforce (training, finding

talent, change management)

Brown, Penelope. “Manufacturers Must Innovate to Meet Changing Customer Expectations.” Manufacturing Leadership Council, 4 Oct. 2019. 2 Brown, Penelope. “Transformative Technologies: A Foggy Present, A Brighter Future.” Manufacturing Leadership Council, 4 Oct, 2019. 3 Brown, Penelope. “Transformative Technologies: A Foggy Present, A Brighter Future.” Manufacturing Leadership Council, 4 Oct, 2019. 4 2018 data provided by Invest Buffalo Niagara with data pulled from EMSI and Brookings Institution Export Monitor. Regional data represents the following counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara. 1


Helping WNY Manufacturers Innovate and Succeed

SHIFT IMPACT Through Shift, we work with SMMs to revise and/or develop strategies that address and overcome business challenges and barriers to technology adoption. Our industry experts work with manufacturers to identify and explore technology and process solutions that meet their needs in order to better operate, compete and grow.




hosted since launch

in attendance at Shift workshops





that completed the Year 2 Business Assessment changed business practices as a result of attending a strategy workshop

that completed the Year 2 Business Assessment changed business practices as a result of attending a process and innovation workshop





that completed the Year 2 Business Assessment changed business practices as a result of attending a technology workshop

INDUSTRY VERTICALS Shift works with SMMs in many different industry verticals. A few are listed below. • Chemical Manufacturing

• Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing

• Electrical Equipment, Appliance and Component Manufacturing

• Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

• Food and Beverage Manufacturing

• Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing

• Machinery Manufacturing

• Plastic and Rubber Products Manufacturing


Shift Impact Report


SHIFT STORY: STREAMLINING PROCESSES WITH STI-CO STI-CO Industries Inc., a leading manufacturer of mission-critical antenna systems with nearly 50 employees, develops products for transportation, public safety, law enforcement, defense and more. The company is recognized for its top-notch quality, quick delivery and superior customer service.

"With so many improvement projects in the works at STI-CO, we appreciated how the Innovation Audit process helped us identify and prioritize several quick-win and high-value opportunities that aligned well with our strategy." Kyle works with associate Edgar Rosario on STI-CO’s new automated cable-labeling solution, which has reduced cycle time by 75%.

- Kyle Swiat,

CEO and President of STI-CO


Helping WNY Manufacturers Innovate and Succeed

The Challenge Because STI-CO supports multiple industries, many different products are produced simultaneously. Due to rapid growth and recent entry into new markets, factory space constraints were impeding productivity. STI-CO had to find technology options which could be implemented quickly, show immediate return on investment and further improve job satisfaction for the manufacturing team, while requiring minimal physical space.

The Solution The Shift team was brought in to conduct an Innovation Audit of STI-CO’s manufacturing facility. We spoke with staff at all operational levels, conducted a factory floor walk to observe current processes and equipment, and identified several solutions for consideration. Due to the high-mix process and space-limited facility, the Shift team focused on opportunities that would show impact on the broadest range of processes. With a variety of options available, we used a collaborative approach to select the top solutions, based on factors such as implementation timeline, cost and business impact.

The Impact One solution involved automating the manual cable-labeling process that is required for many STI-CO products. When STI-CO started with Shift, the labeling process was tedious, time-consuming and prone to error. Through the Shift Innovation Audit, we identified an automated solution that decreased cycle time by 75%. With the new system implemented, the STI-CO floor team increased throughput and eliminated a tedious task, improving overall job satisfaction. STI-CO has decided to incorporate a fully automated setup directly into the existing cable-processing cell, which will soon provide an all-in-one automated solution for cable labeling.

Shift Impact Report


SHIFT STORY: STRATEGIC PLANNING WITH RING PRECISION Ring Precision Components manufactures custom components for a wide variety of markets, including injection molding, munitions, medical-pharmaceutical, compaction, steel stamping and metal-forming industries. Based in Jamestown, NY, this company with nearly 100 employees prides itself on using cutting-edge manufacturing equipment and quality control procedures to ensure consistency on each and every piece.

"The information Shift provides to you will leapfrog you past your competitors and give you metrics to measure the success. You owe it to yourself to sit with Shift. You owe it to your company, and you owe it to your communities.� Photo courtesy of: Ring Precision

- Dale Gier, President of Ring Precision


Helping WNY Manufacturers Innovate and Succeed

The Challenge An internal survey of Ring Precision’s workforce revealed that within 5 years, 25% would be retiring. As a high-precision component manufacturer, this workforce decrease presents a significant vulnerability. President Dale Gier went in search of innovative technologies and the support to implement them so the company could overcome workforce constraints and stay competitive. That’s when he found Shift.

The Solution Dale and his team noted that Shift’s Strategic Planning workshop provided meaningful clues to overcome the anticipated workforce barrier and, as a result, enabled them to develop three new business strategies. Subsequent workshops including Change Management, Leadership Development and Options Testing helped them to build out their plan and prepare for additional technology adoption. A team of experts from EWI and Insyte Consulting worked with the team at Ring Precision to identify opportunities for technology and process solutions throughout their organization. This process included interviews, a floor walk and collaborative discussions about how technology can support Ring Precision’s long-term goals and strategic plan.

The Impact No one has a crystal ball to see into the future, but Dale and his team assembled a strategic plan that gave them contingency options just before they lost a major customer in 2019. Dale says having a strategic plan truly mitigated the impact and gave them immediate alternatives to continue growing the business. Additionally, as a company that was already committed to using advanced technologies, Ring Precision now has access to world-class experts at EWI who can advise on implementation and how to maximize impact.

Shift Impact Report


SHIFT STORY: AUTOMATED SOLUTIONS FOR ASTRONICS LSI Astronics LSI manufactures interior and exterior lighting products for the aircraft industry, including flight deck, exterior and emergency lighting systems. With a workforce of nearly 350 employees and the goal of improving productivity and efficiency through new technology, Astronics LSI approached the Shift team to explore adding advanced automation to key areas in its manufacturing line.

"The Shift workshops provide the groundwork and an introduction of the tools needed to formulate a strategy for implementing technological innovations. Equally important are the networking opportunities by participating in the program.� Photo courtesy of: Astronics LSI

- Pat Pierce,

Manufacturing Engineering Manager at Astronics LSI


Helping WNY Manufacturers Innovate and Succeed

The Challenge Facing increased customer demand year over year, Astronics LSI wanted to adopt a strategy of working smarter versus working harder. Several opportunities for automation on its manufacturing line were available to both speed up production and provide growth opportunities for manufacturing operators by enabling them to focus on higher value-add tasks.

The Solution After Astronics LSI completed the recommended Shift workshops, we conducted an Innovation Audit with their leadership, technical and operations team members to identify technology and process improvement opportunities. The Audit included a factory floor walk to observe current manufacturing processes and equipment, and the identification of a range of cross-cutting solutions for the company to consider. Once all the options were identified, a collaborative approach was used to prioritize the top solutions, based on factors such as implementation timeline, cost and business impact.

The Impact Some of the more complex Astronics LSI products require the insertion of hundreds of components, each of which can be as small as a few millimeters, requiring careful picking, orienting and placement. The Shift Innovation Audit team quickly identified an improved automated solution and supported it with 3D conceptual drawings and detailed bid specifications to help facilitate the company’s request for proposal (RFP) process. The automated solution will increase the facilities’ throughput, enabling Astronics LSI to better allocate its human resources. Additionally, Astronics LSI anticipates expanding the solution to automate the insertion of other small parts such as screws, screw inserts, buttons and more.

Shift Impact Report



For more information about the Shift program, visit our website: Contact us today to start working with our experts:

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