Propelsion » North Coast Regional Manufacturers’ Network & Directory

The North Coast Regional Manufacturers’ Network (NCRMN) focuses on streamlining the manufacturing supply and value chain and supporting manufacturing growth and development in the regional economy. The project identifies the region’s inherent manufacturing capabilities, and connects those manufacturing assets with business needs and demands.

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Mechanics and fabrication have long been staple skills in the region feeding into agriculture, fishing, timber production and mining. As employment in extraction industries has declined, first due to mechanization and compounded by the integration of technology, blue collar jobs went by the wayside along with the ability to leave high school and get a job that supported raising a family and buying a house.  After the Second World War, the focus for youth was on college and the preferred careers were white collar.  NCRMN will shine a spotlight on the potential of manufacturing as a career pathway.

One early example of refocusing on manufacturing skills is the Hydroponics Career Technical Education program which provides a science curriculum, hands on work experiences and the opportunity for students to participate in a student run business and research.  This pathway is supported by a partnership with American Hydroponics, a leading international hydroponics systems manufacturer and vendor located in the region.

NCRMN works to maximize opportunities presented by the current trend of re-shoring manufacturing of parts and products (particularly high value), as well as low quantity runs and patent-sensitive products. By locating parts and products manufacturing opportunities closer to the end user, innovation and further product development is more likely to take place within the region. NCRMN catalogs information about regional manufacturers, what products they make, their capacity, capabilities, equipment and skills.  By developing a robust network among regional manufacturers we can begin to explore supply and value chains looking for opportunities to develop new lines that meet local demand and link regional capacity to fulfill manufacturing contracts that an individual shop could not complete.  Knowing what equipment exists within the region, and who has the skills and excess capacity to operate and manufacture will inform businesses, the economic development and planning community.

Creating Zero Waste lean manufacturers, where all waste is eliminated or greatly reduced and supporting recycled content manufacturing, expands the regions green credentials.  Energy and Materials efficiency brings many benefits both strengthening the manufacturer and reducing the impact of manufacturing.  This Triple bottom line includes people, environment, and economy and supports a lean and green economy in this region.

GOALS

  • Advance and build the regional manufacturing industry cluster by facilitating the interconnection of capacities of manufacturers.
  • Develop opportunities for more production substituting locally-made for currently imported parts, products and packaging (Near sourcing).
  • Build trust among manufacturers, linking production capacities to bid on contracts to large or diverse for one manufacturer to handle– “flexible manufacturing networks”
  • Connecting innovators and manufacturers to knowledge about waste reduction and reuse and connecting available reusable and recycled materials.
  • Increasing regional production reducing the need for capital investment by shortening the supply chain by both distance and time,

Activities will build on successes and link efforts to develop integrated career pathways, develop innovative apprenticeship programs, and increase the regional capacity for innovation through the long term development of regional technology centers, rapid prototyping capability, and entrepreneurial support systems.

Why is this important?

Domestic manufacturing revenues in California and throughout the rest of the country are often lost to other countries’ economies when the good or service is imported. The Redwood area is not immune from such economic realities, and has identified “targets of opportunity” to increase reliance on non-imported goods. The initiative fills in the import gaps within three targeted industriesNiche Manufacturing (small, specialized firms and some of the infrastructure manufacturers that support them)Forest Products (a mature, heavily concentrated mix of businesses), and Specialty Agriculture, which includes food, flowers, and beverages.

One of this region’s strengths is that our manufacturing sector was built on the supply chain of services to the forestry industry (lumber mills, pulp mills) where fabrication and problem solving quickly and efficiently were critical to continuous operation of those entities. NCRMN will focus on bringing this group of businesses forward in their thinking about utilizing existing and developing new skills to rebuild a vibrant manufacturing sector. This work will result in a new way of thinking about production processes and the necessity of manufacturing linkages to achieve economy of scale in this rural region.

The trend to “re-shore” manufacturing is bringing more parts and product manufacturing back to the U.S.  Coupled with new technologies, like smaller, affordable, automated equipment and lean manufacturing strategies allowing small production runs and easier changes to production equipment, regional manufacturers will be able to compete more effectively with large firms– a boon to rural areas. There is the potential as a result of this project, for identification of one or more specific niches that our region could play in the statewide advanced manufacturing infrastructure.

By building the robustness of the manufacturing sector in our region, this project will create the opportunities to grow the economy by plugging the leaks of money moving out of the region when external purchases are made as well as by bringing new money through the sale of goods or services outside the region.   Compared to rural, urban businesses cross paths much more frequently creating a flow of ideas, spread of new knowledge and the generation of expanded opportunities.  By creating a culture of collaboration linked to specific knowledge about production capacities, waste streams, needs for imported parts etc., the manufacturing industry can expand, increasing the economic base, providing much needed jobs and increasing economic resiliency in the region.

What are we doing about it?

  1. Strengthen manufacturing relationships through peer sharing information, facilitated manufacturer-to-manufacturer meetings, forums covering topics identified by the manufacturers and specialized training.
  2. Increasing manufacturing efficiency reducing their carbon footprint by focusing on lean manufacturing training, waste stream analysis with zero waste techniques, energy efficiency, and material substitutions.
  3. NCRMN is creating an expanding directory, growing steadily, with online access.
  4. Mapping inputs and outputs to the region helping manufacturers identify new opportunities for import substitution and waste stream reuse.

Results So Far:  Successes

  • Identified, recorded and distributed information electronically and as a web directory on the capacity of regional manufacturers and manufacturing support businesses. Explore the directory
  • Matrix of production discards for production use or packaging materials.
  • Matrix of products and parts that could be made regionally.
  • Inter-Industry Linkages – Facilitated meetings to develop long term relationships.
  • List of equipment available and equipment needed.
  • Connected manufacturers to financial resources and organizational resources for business expansion and equipment purchases.
  • Support the promotion of processes identified include blow molding, injection molding, CNC machines, laser cutters, 3-D printers, machining and more.
  • Identified our recycled content manufacturers.
  • Initiated a working group of manufacturers interested in the development of an advanced manufacturing equipment MakerSpace

Primary Partners and Funding:

Morgan Family Foundation

Pacific Gas & Electric

Redwood Region Economic Development Commission

CalRecycle Zone Incentive Funds

Humboldt Waste Management Authority

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North Coast Regional Manufacturers’ Directory

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Propelsion

Contact: Kimberli Hudson
Work 1385 8th Street, Suite #205 Arcata CA 95521 Work Phone: (707) 506-6611 Website: Propelsion
Photo of Propelsion

Biographical Info

Propulsion is a Design Studio, an Idea and Creativity Incubator with a focus on new product development and taking the product to market.  In addition, they offer business development consulting with individuals or businesses.

Highlights: Green products; energy efficiency products; innovation services; business consulting; design services; new product prototype; small batch production;

Manufacturer of

  • Energy Monitor:  This energy monitor provides an intuitive, dynamic and attractive display of energy use.

Benefit:  It monitors the energy usage of each living unit, providing real time, aesthetic, feedback on instantaneous power and daily energy usage.

  • Bar Grips:  Bar Grips is a product that offers an alternative to work out gloves.

Benefit:   Bar Grips are easy to put on and take off, they prevent the pain that a bar inflicts through gloves and against bare hands, and they encourage people to work out more frequently.  This product is patent pending.

  • Gotwhich Collaboration Tool:  Gotwhich is part of Propulsion’s collaboration tools. The website allows anyone to easily arrange multiple people selecting time slots, items to bring, or tasks to complete.

Benefit:  Many websites allow multiple people to find one time that works for all.  Gotwich can be used for those times where you want to meet with various people or teams and items in individual times. Gotwhich is currently in its first beta stage. Live feedback can be given and voted upon by clicking the chat button in the lower left of the http://www.gotwhich.com site.

Benefit: The bulb itself is aesthetic.

Manufacturing of small or medium size batch for

  • New product
  • Local product production (combination, local if possible, U.S., If global – Fairtrade/Fair manufacturer)
  • Recycled content production –  (if possible)

Production:  Materials Used

  • Electronics, (when possible they purchase responsibly made).
  • Plastics
  • Glass

Manufacturing Present: (product list)

  • Energy Monitor
  • Bar Grips
  • Gotwhich Collaboration Tool
  • Energy Efficient Light Bulb (in development)

Business Services (for other companies)

  • General business development consulting.
  • Product development and production:  in some cases, if a product idea is one that Propulsion is interested in taking to production, they will take product into their business, develop, manufacture, and take product to market sharing royalties with the idea generator.  The selection starts with filling in an Idea Submission Form.  If selected, they will develop financing, manufacturing, and take on the risk of production and sales.  If interested, request the form from info@propelsion.com.

Innovator Services:

  • Design
  • New product prototype assistance
  • Small batch production (if they chose a product)
  • Other – General business development assistance.

Benefits:

Propulsion will assist a business at different levels of idea generation, business development, including sustainability considerations, and in a few cases, they are willing to take the product on within their business, and take the product to market.

Other skills, specializations

  • 3 D design
  • Sustainable Design
  • Facilitation of idea generation and management
  • Innovation assistance and services

Need assistance and services:

  • Electronics assembly (small)
  • Injection molding
  • Software and hardware design
  • App design
  • CNC
  • Laser cutting
  • Packaging
  • Extruder
Categories: Design Services, Energy Product, New Product Prototype, Small Batch Production