industry 4.0

What is Industry 4.0?

Are you confused about what Industry 4.0 is? Many people are because it seems to be so similar to Industry 3.0, or the 3rd Industrial Revolution, an era that just recently ended. So what’s the difference?

Here’s the simplest way to put it:

Industry 4.0 is in fact the practices of Industry 3.0, but with an added use of smart technology which produces connectivity. So, devices communicate with each other and are able to even make decisions.

So what’s that mean?
You’re familiar with Industry 3.0 practices. These are the traditional manufacturing practices like Lean, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Automation, just to name a few. Now let’s add in the element of smart technology, or smart manufacturing. The entire production is connected and every single part, machine and employee are working in sync. Efficiencies are automatically captured and implemented. Inventory is always recorded which reduces waste. Because every machine or device is connected, real-time data is given which allows for data-based decision making on when to order materials, when to ship, when to reschedule a product and more. All this information makes it clear what the health of your organization is at any given moment. Information that is critical to the life and success of your company.

Endless possibilities with Industry 4.0

The potential and possibilities that come from implementing an Industry 4.0 production really are endless. If you free up workers in certain areas, they are then able to focus on new initiatives. If you reduce waste, you have new capital to use on new technology. Efficiencies open up the ability to expand and grow. And, let’s face it, you’ll have new leverage when it comes to recruiting new employees that want to be a part of smart technology.

If you’re interested in learning more about Industry 4.0, you can read more of our manufacturing blogs or visit our manufacturing services page.

Get to know our manufacturing team! Read about our Industrial 4.0 Project Manager, Joseph Schultz and our Business Development Specialist, Cathy Witte.

Q&A

Getting to Know Rebecca Singer, President & CEO

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

This is a special edition of our Getting to Know CIFT blog series because we are highlighting our President and CEO, Rebecca Singer! Rebecca has always been a strong advocate for CIFT and began her journey with the company in 2001. She initially started with CIFT as the Associate Program Director, then climbed up the chain to Vice President and Director of Agricultural Programs and now is leading the company as President and CEO. We asked her some questions to get a glimpse into her role and what makes her so passionate about the work that CIFT does.

What do you do at CIFT?
I provide vision and strategic consideration as to how CIFT can continue to serve as a resource to our clients and stake holders while also exploring trends and anticipating future challenges. I have the pleasure of leading a team of exceptional individuals with unique skills and experience in directly engaging with companies within the food, agricultural, and manufacturing industries.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
I have always been a firm believer in spending time doing something that makes a difference and you are passionate about. Food is an industry that touches every person several times a day while supporting good health, social engagements, to family connectivity. Playing a role in delivering a basic need with such powerful implications is particularly rewarding. Enhancing the way in which this is done from field to package is inspiring.

What has been your favorite project so far?
I have been fortunate to participate in and deliver on numerous projects during my tenure with the organization. It is incredibly difficult to select a favorite when you consider the impacts associated with assisting companies develop safer, higher quality products, implementation of a technology that allows for no preservatives added for enhance market appeal, explore improvements to water quality issues, manufacturer items fulfilling immediate crisis response during the pandemic, or educating youth of the importance of contributing to a vibrant food system into the future. In saying all of this, working with the entrepreneurs with a recipe that has been passed down for generations to advancing it into the marketplace is refreshing and inspiring. The passion and dedication of all the individuals we work with, regardless of the type of company, makes each positive impact a highlight.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?
If you are within the food and agricultural industry, you will find genuine and valuable support from our team and if you manufacture a product in northwest Ohio your success is important to us and we are here to serve as trusted advisors willing to help.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I have been fortunate to travel to numerous countries to expand my knowledge and experiences professionally and encourage such exposure to anyone. Additionally, I spend my free time working on the family farm, volunteering for organizations such as 4-H, and find time spent on the water most relaxing and refreshing.

Get to know more of the team through the entire CIFT Team blog series.

Q&A

Getting to Know Derrick Coleman, Project Manager

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing on with our Getting to Know CIFT blog series with our Project Manager, Derrick Coleman. Derrick has been with CIFT for a little over one year and he is an expert in all things product development and technical consultation with deep experience. We asked Derrick some questions to get a glimpse into his role and what makes him excited to go to work every day.

What do you do at CIFT?
The primary objective of my position is to serve as a representative of CIFT for the development and building of clients and revenue with food industry manufacturers, vendors, and service providers by developing working relationships and projects that fulfill CIFT’s mission. Most of the projects that I’m working on involve some form of product development and/or technical consultation. Being able to “multitask” is a strong asset and characteristic of being a part of the CIFT team. No two days are the same.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
There are three things that motivate me to wake up and go to work. First, and foremost, is my family. They are my everything. Secondly, the opportunity to work with such a broad variety of clients from startups to seasoned companies with strong historic roots. Last, but not least, the work at CIFT is ever changing and is not lineal which compliments my work style of preference.

What has been your favorite project so far?
There are quite a few to choose from. However, I will have to say that developing a protein bar for a client was one of the most technically challenging, yet rewarding projects that I have ever worked on. My involvement extended beyond bench top formulating to working with both domestic and international ingredient suppliers to several different co-manufacturers.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?
I have over 20 years experience in the food industry with strong experience in both product development and technical sales. No project is too big or too small. CIFT has an excellent team of dedicated Project Managers that can work with food industry clients in need of Product Development, Quality Assurance, Engineering and/or Operations support.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
My wife and I separately have either been in a movie or tv show. Secondly, I love to travel, specifically to all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico.

Read Derrick’s product development blog, “Staying Competitive Through Product Development.”

Q&A

Getting to Know Paula Ray, NOCK Operations Manager

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing our Getting to Know CIFT series with our Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) Operations Manager, Paula Ray. Paula has been with CIFT for 15 years and she works with all our NOCK tenants and keeps the facility running smoothly. We asked Paula some questions to get a glimpse into her role and what makes her excited to go to work every day.

What do you do at CIFT?

I manage the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) and work with clients that are interested in using the facility. I arrange and maintain all documents that are needed for regulatory inspections, schedule all maintenance on the facility and handle FDA/ODA and local health department inspections. I also make sure that all clients are following food safety protocols and are compliant with Good Manufacturing Practices. 

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?

I like being a part of the team that helps entrepreneurs get their products on shelves by making their items in CIFT’s licensed commercial facility. CIFT has been committed to this project for many years and I am happy to be a part of it. Every day is different. Seeing small food companies that have a dream and the fact that we can help with that dream makes me feel like I’m making a difference. The energy they put into creating a recipe and producing is extraordinary. 

What has been your favorite project so far?

I can’t say I have a favorite, but I like the first phase when entrepreneurs are over excited and thrilled to take the plunge on producing a product. Then seeing companies excel and find their niche is so gratifying.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?

I throw myself into all projects and if I can’t figure something out I will reach out to the CIFT team for the necessary help and find the correct way to get the job done. It’s been a pleasure to be part of CIFT and everything that we have to offer. 

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

My down time and a place that I go to when I just want to unwind is my greenhouse and gardening. Everyone needs something to do that makes them truly happy. Jumping in our camper and escaping from realty for a few days is always a plus.

Learn more about the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen and our services on our Emerging Food Processors webpage.

Q&A

Getting to Know Matt Inniger, Project Engineer

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing our Getting to Know CIFT series with our Project Engineer, Matt Inniger. Matt has been with CIFT for 3 years and in that time has worked with hundreds of companies providing various engineering solutions needed to fit unique situations. We asked Matt some questions to get a glimpse into his role and what motivates him.

What do you do at CIFT?
I’m responsible for providing engineering solutions to CIFT clients, facilitating services provided by outside A&E groups, and managing CIFT’s Advanced Technology Program in the areas of automation and robotics. I also support our Product Development team on certain projects, both in benchtop work and production scale-up

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
My biggest passion is health and fitness, and as a part of that I care very deeply about the foods that I eat. That passion is what inspired me to choose the food manufacturing industry as a career so I could design products and manufacturing systems that allow all types of people to eat convenient and healthy food.

What has been your favorite project so far?
While CIFT works with clients of all sizes, I really enjoy working with our midsize manufacturers, as the solutions that we provide don’t just improve the bottom line, but often they’re the difference between a business succeeding or failing. Two examples of that are our work with Wild Ohio Brewing in Columbus to re-design their staple product to be a low-calorie seltzer competitor, and our ongoing work with Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy where we have helped them with a variety of equipment and process initiatives to make their great products even better.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?
Most of the people who are familiar with CIFT are only familiar with a small portion of the things we can do and the solutions we provide. If the manufacturers in our network could know anything new about myself and the organization, it’s that whatever problem your facing or new initiative your considering, CIFT can provide value and assistance through some part of our business. So please, just call us!

Learn more about our food services and success stories through our food processing blogs.

Q&A

Getting to Know Cathy Witte, Business Development Specialist

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing our Getting to Know CIFT series with our Business Development Specialist, Cathy Witte. Cathy has been with CIFT since 2014 and has been vital in strengthening and building relationships with manufacturers all across the state. We asked Cathy some questions to get a glimpse into her role and what motivates her.

What do you do at CIFT?
I reach out to manufacturers across our 18 county region to introduce CIFT/Ohio MEP and provide service and assistance to these companies.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
I enjoy talking to manufacturers in all types of industries, and learning about their business and how we can help.

What has been your favorite project so far?
I don’t have a specific favorite project per se, since I am more involved with starting the relationships, not managing the projects. But my favorite part of my job is when I connect with a manufacturer who really could use our assistance and expertise!

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?
Being a non-profit, we are really here to help our manufacturers in Ohio stay competitive, grow and also build relationships.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I was a ski racer back in the day! Still enjoy the sport every winter, but in a much more relaxed way!

Learn more about our manufacturing services and success stories through our different manufacturing blogs.

Q&A

Getting to Know Joseph Schultz, Industrial 4.0 Project Manager

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing our Getting To Know CIFT series with our Industrial 4.0 Project Manager, Joseph (Joe) Schultz. The Industrial 4.0 Project Manager job is a brand new position at CIFT and Joe joined the team almost two months ago, diving head first into the position and working directly with different manufacturers in Ohio. We asked Joe some questions to get a glimpse into his role and what motivates him.

What do you do at CIFT?
I am the Industrial 4.0 Project Manager. I work with manufactures to bring them into the Industrial Revolution 4.0. This includes Lean (implementation, training, assessments), Smart Manufacturing (Internet of Things (IOT), AI, preventive maintenance), Digital Manufacturing (ERP, digital thread, data capture), Cybersecurity (focus on CMMC), Automation (robotics, smart sensors) and Additive Manufacturing (3D printing, prototyping). Another aspect of my job is to build relationships with manufacturers and service providers in the Northwest Ohio Region to help them see and know CIFT as an available resource.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
The opportunity to change and improve Northwest Ohio manufactures and be a part of shaping the future. To help improve the quality of manufacturers in both product and improvement of their employees’ work.

What are you most looking forward to with this new role?
I am most looking forward to growing my skill and knowledge base, while leaving an impact on a better Ohio.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?
I want people to know that Industry 4.0 is the future. If employers are facing workforce shortages, it is time to look into going Lean. If a task is dirty, dull or dangerous, there is a robotic solution. Companies need to evaluate their cybersecurity to protect their business, customers and, in some cases, continue to stay in business. Lastly, 3D printing can save companies time and money on reduced time to prototype and organic design.

I also want people to know CIFT is here to help and partner with them as their Ohio MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership).

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I have a high desire to learn and as a result I am full of random information and facts. I love kayaking and spending time with my wife.

Learn more about our manufacturing services and success stories through our different manufacturing blogs.

Q&A

Getting to Know Isabel Montez, Outreach Technician

We believe it’s important to know who you’re working with.

We’re continuing our Getting to Know CIFT series with our Outreach Technician, Isabel Montez. Isabel has been with CIFT for a little over 11 years and has played a pivotal role in expanding technical outreach to the community. We asked Isabel some questions to get a glimpse into her role and what motivates her.

What do you do at CIFT?
I perform technical outreach for CIFT, a nonprofit organization, in the area of urban gardening. I’m responsible for educating and instructing different agencies on vertical gardening and farming best practices along with providing information on plant nutrition. When a new growing environment is created, I collect and record all research findings and submit that information to different institutions like the ODA. I also teach organizations on how to extend the growing season and sustainability.

Outside of my primary job responsibilities, I also coordinate community activities for CIFT to be involved with so we can give back to our community.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
My passion in sharing my knowledge with others, but especially listening to others, and the value of learning something new every day.

What has been your favorite project so far?
The Vertical Growing Systems project where I worked with hydroponics and learned a different method to grow food. It was challenging and started healthy discussions and concerns about “hydroponic growing”. It also addressed food safety issues on the economic impact to food deserts and many more. This project ultimately has no end and will constantly grow and evolve.

What’s one thing you want people to know about your role, service or CIFT?
Along with all the great work we do for food companies and manufactures, CIFT strongly supports the farming community. We provide resources, education, innovation or introduction of new crops to Ohio.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
That I proudly served 20 years in the United States Navy, it provided me the opportunity to travel throughout Asia and European countries. I value the lifelong friendships made in my career.

Learn more about our agribusiness and food systems services.

Alpha Coatings logo

Lean Implementation Gains Company Millions

value createdAlpha Coatings Inc. was founded in 1990 and has offices all around the world. The company first started out by applying metal to rubber bonding adhesives for the military. This application then led to producing weather strip coatings for the automotive industry. Meeting the needs of the automotive and aftermarket industry, their custom coating services are especially suitable for many types of sealing systems, including those found on any type of vehicle, including cars, trucks and trailers as well as appliances, windows, doors and boats. Today, the company boasts over $100 million dollars in sales annually.

Alpha Coatings’ local facility in Fostoria, Ohio identified some operational and communication issues that needed resolved to further business. Operationally, the shop floor was disorganized in various work areas. There were also very few measurable key performance indicators communicated to employees to help them understand how they were doing. The company’s management team met and were in agreement that a Lean implementation was necessary to improve the two issues.

The company contacted CIFT, an Ohio MEP, to provide the on-site process education and hands-on shop floor experience implementation of Lean Principles and Techniques. The MEP trained employees and implemented 5S to assist with the organization of shop floor areas. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were also identified to track and communicate to the shop floor.

The results of this Lean work conducted for Alpha Coatings were significant. The most noteworthy impact being over $4 million dollars in increased and retained sales directly from this project. Alpha Coatings also increased and retained 40 jobs.

Lean Resources

Questions on Lean implementation? We’re here to answer them. Contact us through out website.

We have many resources available when it comes to Lean. Check out our blog series, 3 Benefits of Implementing Lean into Your Manufacturing Production or get more information on our complimentary lean assessment.

Darista Dips logo

Ohio Food Industry Summit Sparks Small Business’s Growth

Darista Dips is on a mission to delight eaters with unbelievably tasty food inspired by cuisines from around the world, made with the finest and freshest ingredients possible. The products have a story to tell, one of local pride and world appreciation. But most importantly, the company wants to provide great, nutrient-dense food for its customers to share their own stories with friends and family.

Darista Dips had a strong product with great traction following and huge growth opportunity. They knew it needed the High Pressure Processing (HPP) Technology in order to survive and grow, but as a small business, they did not have the funds or resources to test their products using the HPP technology. Costs for testing were more than $65,000, which would need to be output to know whether the technology even worked on their products. The company realized that it might have to shut down all together, if it did not go forward with the testing.

Darista Dips attended CIFT’s annual Ohio Food Industry Summit, and learned about the work that CIFT does with food companies across the state. The timing was perfect, given the testing issue that the company was facing. CIFT was able to work with the company to provide the resources to get the testing done; the tests proved positive, which meant the company could utilize the HPP technology for processing. Darista Dips immediately landed 50 accounts with this innovation, and on-boarded 4 new distributors.

“I can’t emphasize how critical CIFT was to the life of our business. We would not be here today if we didn’t have this incredible opportunity. Everyone (at CIFT) was tremendous, and we are so grateful.” — Dara Schwartz, Owner/President

As an industry, the last year has shown how essential and strong we are. We have overcome never before seen challenges in the market and even within our organizations caused by a once in a century pandemic. And throughout it all we have kept our fellow citizens fed and our colleagues safe. 

Now, it’s time to look at what comes next and that is the focus of our 2021 Ohio Food Industry Summit. We will be joined by leaders and speakers on trends in food processing, the state of innovation, research and much more. Please join us as we virtually gather with others in our industry on April 15, 2021. Learn more and register here. Registration is free.

Read more success stories.

cookie cutter

The Pragmatic (and Effective!) Approach to Lean

You’ve had a horrible experience with lean before, even after being told it’s supposed to make your life easier. These horrible experiences are often caused by “cookie cutter” implementations that don’t address your unique business needs and employees. You need a provider that will work with you and will implement a system built for you and your employees. When choosing a lean provider, make sure your new provider understands the importance of these three points.

Foundation-Up Strategy

Your frontline employees are the ones that will be most impacted by implementing a lean production, so it’s important that they are involved in the process. Having a “foundation-up strategy” does exactly that. Employees help guide the production changes and they see first hand how their jobs are going to be easier. They will feel empowered by their changes and will directly understand the decisions that were made. In return, they will know the new processes up and down, understand the benefits and new efficiencies and overall feel more comfortable with the change. A lean program will only work if the employees using it see the benefit.

Implementation By Area

Don’t try to change everything all at once. Lean will be better responded to if you implement it in phases, but choose where to start wisely. It’s important to choose an area that’s most open to change and it helps if it’s centrally located and visible to most employees. Progress will be noticed by others. Naturally, more departments will want to reap the benefits and will on their own start organizing and looking for ways to enhance their space. This could even be used as a little friendly competition to see what department can do it best before the actual lean implementation happens to their area.

Continuing the Success

If the new lean practices aren’t sustainable, success will be temporary. Training documents and SOPs are crucial for a lasting impact. Every new employee should be onboarded to the lean practices from the start. Any production changes made or new practices put in place while implementing, should be recorded so employees can move around and still know the process. The success of your lean program relies on each and every employee.

Questions on lean? We’re here to answer them. Contact us through our website.

We have many resources available when it comes to lean. Check out our blog series, 3 Benefits of Implementing Lean into Your Manufacturing Production or get more information on our complimentary lean assessment.

2020 CIFT Excellence Award

Announcing the 2020 CIFT Excellence Award Winner

We are excited to announce the winner of the 2020 CIFT Excellence Award — Guac Shop!

The CIFT Excellence Award recognizes outstanding achievement and performance, and all companies that produce from our Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) are eligible to win. The winner is chosen based on community involvement, current growth and future expansion plans.

On March 31st, 2021 at 4pm, we will be live streaming the virtual ceremony to award Guac Shop and you are invited. If you would like to watch the ceremony, please mark your calendar and watch our live streaming through our NOCK Facebook page at 4pm on March 31st.

We talked to founder, Danielle Arbinger, and asked her questions on her journey and ideas of what the future holds.

Why did you start Guac Shop?
“Everytime I made guacamole for parties or potlucks, people went crazy. It was always in the back of my mind to sell it somehow, but with four small kids and a full-time job, life was too busy to consider starting a side business.

“I loved my job, but eventually the 3-hour round trip commute each day (drive to work plus dropping off and picking up kids at two different schools) took its toll. Having a flexible schedule, spending more time with my family and the idea of being my own boss led me to start Guac Shop.”

What was the biggest business challenge you have faced and overcome? How did you do it?
“The biggest challenge was extending the shelf life beyond 7 days. The very first day I began researching how to start a guacamole company, I found the CIFT kitchen and learned about HPP (high-pressure processing to extend shelf life naturally without preservatives) via Google and knew it would be the key to having a viable product.

“Exactly one year after that Google search, I was at an HPP facility doing a test run which would be sent to a lab at Ohio State University for shelf life testing. Several months later, the testing revealed three flavors of guacamole (Original, Spicy and Opamole) had a 60 day shelf life and two flavors had a 75 day shelf life. It was a big moment for Guac Shop!”

What motivates you everyday?
“There are so many things that motivate me…my kids, for one, have watched the idea of Guac Shop grow into a real business. They helped me think of possible names when I was applying for the LLC and now are working the register at farmer’s markets and seeing how excited people are to buy our guacamole. There are so many life lessons for them. In fact, they all have business ideas brewing and want to become entrepreneurs.

“I have the most amazing, loyal customers and businesses that buy Guac Shop. Making people happy, plus the positive feedback are huge motivators and I especially love converting people who thought they didn’t like avocado or guacamole into regular customers.”

What is the most important advice you could give to someone who is just starting out with a food product idea?
“Make sure you have a product that is not only delicious, but very unique in some way and do a lot of research before taking the leap. Go to stores, see what your competition is doing and strategize how you can stand out. Make sure you will be able to competitively price your product and still make a profit.”

What are you most excited about for the future?
“In 2021, we are starting subscriptions and will be able to reach customers outside of Ohio and Michigan.”

Congratulations to Guac Shop on winning the CIFT Excellence Award! We are so happy to be a part of your story and can’t wait to see what the future holds!