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SwRI gives South Texas manufacturers a competitive edge

Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center offers industrial and manufacturing expertise

San Antonio -- November 25, 1996 -- Small manufacturers in South Texas have another resource to stay competitive in national and international markets. Under the direction of the Texas Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC) provides Texas manufacturers with industrial and manufacturing engineering expertise.

The South Central TMAC office, located and operated by Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) , is one of five regional offices established to encourage the use of appropriate techniques in small businesses. The other four Texas regional offices are operated by the Texas Engineering Extension Service at Texas A&M University, the Automation and Robotics Research Institute at the University of Texas at Arlington, the Institute for Manufacturing and Materials Management at the University of Texas at El Paso, and the University of Houston.

"Consistent with the Institute's charter of technology transfer, SwRI is helping smaller manufacturers adopt appropriate technologies to make them more competitive in the global marketplace," Michael Grant, director of the South Central TMAC office, said. "We have worked with more than 200 companies from food processing to furniture manufacturing, providing affordable engineering support they otherwise could not have accessed."

One of the companies, Alamo Packaging Corporation (APC), used to shut down its computer files for 10 days to complete its year-end inventory reconciliation. APC materials manager Priscilda Garza knew there was a better way to streamline their inventory process. TMAC field engineer Rod Cantu worked with Garza and warehouse personnel to develop a process that allowed APC to download inventory information into a spreadsheet and create a user-friendly inventory system in their warehouse that sorted parts by aisle. To make the process even more efficient, APC attached bar code labels for each part to the inventory form, increasing speed and accuracy of data entry.

"Physical inventory has never run as smoothly as it did this year," Garza said. "With TMAC's proposed labels and scanners, Alamo Packaging will continue to improve inventory."

Some of the services available from TMAC include assessment and benchmarking of existing operations and assistance in providing access to specialized technology. These are areas where small companies are often at a competitive disadvantage. TMAC also provides technical education seminars and workshops.

TMAC monitors the usefulness of its services by measuring increased sales and profits, exports, job growth, and operational efficiency in the companies it assists.

SwRI was selected as a TMAC partner in March 1995. Twelve industrial engineers from the SwRI center provide hands-on assistance to companies from San Angelo to Victoria and Waco to San Antonio.

For more information about TMAC, contact Deborah Deffenbaugh, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, Phone (210) 522-2046, Fax (210) 522-3547.

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