Nonprofit organization is a valuable resource for small, medium manufacturers in S.C.
The South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a nonprofit organization that promotes innovation and industrial competitiveness, is a valuable resource for South Carolina manufacturers, particularly smaller companies, striving to stay competitive in a global market. Because SCMEP has many partners across channels, it can provide many services, from operations, logistics and IT to human resources, that until recently, often only the largest OEMs could afford.
Indeed, with a $3 billion impact to the state’s economy, SCMEP’s efforts have returned great dividends, executive director Chuck Spangler said.
“We want to ensure that we’re making a positive impact for each company we work with,” Spangler said. “The goal is for them to be globally competitive.”
While SCMEP works with companies of all sizes, most of SCMEP’s projects have been with small and mid-sized organizations. Of some 6,300 manufacturers throughout the state, 90 percent of those companies employ less than 100 people and of those, 4,700 are companies that employ less than 20 people, Spangler said.
One example is helping smaller companies increase value chain transparency. Until recently, smaller companies generally could not afford solutions to allow them to effectively communicate, with the result being that many of the smaller members of a given value chain simply did not know what each other had or were doing. Now that technology is much more accessible, SCMEP, through collaboration with many partners, can educate these companies to help them determine and implement the appropriate solutions for their situations.
“The pandemic really illustrated how critical that visibility is,” Spangler said. “If you are a big OEM with a number of members in your value chain, it’s vital to know exactly what everyone has and what they’re doing, The goal is to manufacture to real demand, rather than mass producing products based on past projections. With real time information, they can efficiently produce what is needed and reduce inventories of items that are not as critical or are not moving.”
Workforce development is another area of focus. SCMEP provides a wide variety of training and education opportunities, many of which are available through their online portal, SCMEP Online. SCMEP is also helping companies utilize high-tech, “Industry 4.0” tools to perform simple, repetitive tasks. This ultimately helps increase wages, as people move from traditionally lower paying, mundane jobs to more lucrative and satisfying roles.
“You’re not replacing people with machines; you’re using machines to do jobs people don’t like to do while providing them with more upward mobility,” Spangler said. “It’s a win-win.”
For more information on how SCMEP can help you, call 864-288-5687 or visit www.scmep.org.