Monday, January 4, 2010

Partners to bolster Ohio's auto industry

Source: Columbus Dispatch

OSU, manufacturing network will assist struggling companies
Wednesday,  December 30, 2009 3:09 AM
A Cleveland-based manufacturing group will join with Ohio State University researchers to offer training and high-tech expertise to the state's struggling automotive sector.
The nation's automakers, and Ohio's economy, need stability and high-tech adaptability from the 600 auto-manufacturing and supply companies in Ohio, said Dan Berry, president and chief executive of the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, or MAGNET.
To that end, MAGNET will team with the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research, Berry said.
MAGNET received $200,000 from the state for its new role in bolstering auto-sector competitiveness statewide.
MAGNET offers training, on site and online, in "lean" management practices and quality-manufacturing processes, Berry said.
OSU's automotive research center offers high-technology expertise to Ohio's auto-related companies. That includes growing research and testing for plug-in hybrid vehicles, which run on electricity and gas.
"As we find companies that need research or assistance with new products or technology, we'll refer them to the center," Berry said of the collaboration. "As they find companies that need help with process improvement or lean management, they'll refer them to us."
OSU's research center in Columbus has 35,000 square feet of offices, laboratories and high-bay garages.
"The cooperation between (the automotive center) and MAGNET creates complementary capabilities," Giorgio Rizzoni, director of the OSU center, said in a news release.
The collaboration spins out of Gov. Ted Strickland's Ohio Automotive Industry Support Council.
The public-private council, formed in late summer, is charged with crafting a strategy for stabilizing Ohio's auto sector and the communities that depend on it.
The industry employed about 126,000 in 2006 but that tally dropped to about 82,000 last year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data supplied by Berry.
The support council held a workshop last week, with participants including senior executives from Ford, Honda, Chrysler and Toyota and auto suppliers such as Goodyear, U.S. Steel and Eaton Corp.
MAGNET has launched two programs for the auto sector. One allows suppliers to use a U.S. Department of Labor grant to pay half the cost of training in lean management practices.
The other is a series of online training courses for shop-floor workers.


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