• keeping abreast of changing technologies, production techniques, and business management practices

  • difficulty obtaining high-quality, unbiased information

  • isolation from other manufacturers, including limited interaction and networking

  • disproportionate burdens created by the regulatory environment

  • difficulty obtaining operating capital and investment funds

  • lack of trained workers, such as certified machinists

  • implementing quality certification programs and new technologies

RCBI's goal is to help SMEs (1) to increase productivity through new technologies, (2) to improve competitiveness through workforce development, and (3) to maximize return on investment by integrating technologies. RCBI has developed innovative ways to improve the competitiveness of SMEs at reasonable cost. For instance, they assist SMEs in achieving quality certification for specific task areas designated by an OEM. Success at the task area level often increases an SME's willingness to commit resources for an entire ISO 9000 certification. RCBI's operating units work directly with SMEs to help them identify and fill gaps in their capabilities. The Technical Training/Workforce Development Unit, for example, provides a variety of educational initiatives, including customized training, seminars, workshops, and technical assistance in the following areas:

  • quality programs, including ISO 9000, QS 9000, AS 9000, quality system documentation, and SPC

  • management programs, including leadership development, team building, and task analysis

  • job training manuals

  • design and manufacturing programs including CAD/CAM training, CNC instruction, programmable logic controller training, welding certification, and safety programs

  • nationally certified machinist training

The Technical Services Group offers SMEs an opportunity to learn about flexible manufacturing systems, including operator training, while actually producing a product. This "teaching factory of the future" allows SMEs to take advantage of new technologies, increase sales, and improve market share. The Systems Integration Group is a consulting and project management/implementation resource for computers, networking, and telecommunications projects. The 21st Century Manufacturing Network brings the areas of electronic commerce, electronic data interchange, technical education, and computer and network systems

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