As a kid, I wanted to be an inventor. I wanted to help people. No one had told me what an engineer was or what they did, but I knew what an inventor was. It took a couple of years in college to figure out that inventing and helping others really meant being an engineer. As the Lean Coordinator of Manufacturing and Engineering at Design Ready Controls, I’ve found the opportunity to create, reimagine and reinvent processes, and to eliminate waste and improve efficiencies across all metrics. Lean manufacturing—the elimination of waste—can mean different things to different people. And it...

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A quality management system (QMS) helps a company ask questions and think before taking action. The American Society for Quality defines a QMS as a formal system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality objectives. It helps us coordinate and direct our activities to meet customer and regulatory requirements, and continually improve our effectiveness and efficiency. At Design Ready Controls, we maintain a data-driven QMS to provide accurate work instructions, processes and procedures for all departments. In turn, those departments provide the quality products and services our customers have come to expect since our original ISO certification in...

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A Culture of Continuous Improvement At Design Ready Controls, we have always challenged the standards of control panel manufacturing. In more than a decade of growth and innovation, we have never stopped searching for ways to improve process efficiency and product quality. We examine and push to improve all practices, regardless of their current level of success. One of those practices is the proper tightening of connections and hardware, what we refer to here as torqueing. Components of a control panel have a variety of connection specs that must be met—such as torque values—to assure the overall quality and safety...

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Want to switch careers but worried about taking the plunge? Want to apply but afraid your experience isn’t enough to get you hired? We get it! There’s no single path to success. Many people have come to Design Ready Controls and found their place here, in manufacturing. We want to do our part to ensure our employees find their pathway to career success. This includes: Training and Growth Opportunities Robust on-site training programs Peer mentor trainers Paid internships and credit hours for externships Tuition reimbursement for qualifying employees Grant funding for specified college programs—including MN PIPELINE Organizational connections that include...

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Design Ready Controls has grown to more than 250 employees just at our Minnesota location, so our 2018 Safety Campaign is growing, too. This includes a number of new initiatives and a uniform approach to scaling safety throughout all our facilities. 5s + Safety Each facility has its unique safety ideas—one location plays Safety BINGO, another plays Safety Trail—but our 5s program is universal. In an effective 5s program, safety naturally follows as the sixth “S.” A cleaner, better-organized workplace is a safer workplace; one blends into the other. Cleanliness and organization remove potential hazards. Color-coded floor tape and bright,...

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I once called Design Ready Controls, “The most automated control panel manufacturer in the world,” without realizing that they’d put it on all of our banners. I had a good laugh about it—and they had to be talked out of putting it on our building—but it’s true. The cornerstone to that claim is our Automated Panel Expert (APE®), a system exclusive to Design Ready Controls. APE communicates technical information for configuration and quotation of control panel builds, using a three step process: Configuration A simple, standard interface allows users to select and order the exact control panel they need. Engineering...

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Some young women might think manufacturing isn’t the right field for them, that it’s a “man’s field,” or that they don’t have the right background. If you’re driven, curious and take initiative—even without a STEM or STEP background—you can succeed in manufacturing. Skills are important, of course, but no matter your background, no matter your education, it’s possible. My bachelor’s is in psychology, not STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) or STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Production), but I leverage that, as well as my previous experience in sales and customer service. I joined Design Ready Controls in 2014 as...

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With talent shortages rising and the skills gap looming, manufacturers struggle to find the skilled employees they need to keep their businesses growing. Ask any advanced manufacturer about obstacles to growth, and you’ll hear one answer more than any other: finding skilled labor. We’re facing explosive advances in technology—such as virtual reality, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and automation—that require new and different skills. If you are in manufacturing, here are some of the best ways to address the deficit in skilled labor: things you can start doing right now. Build Relationships First impressions matter. The earlier a relationship is created...

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Growing Engineers

We aren’t in the business of hiring engineers just to squeeze as much work out of them as possible. We’re here to grow and develop engineers, and we consider ourselves lucky when they choose to stay with us.  It’s a two-way street. We need to invest in each other so both sides have a positive takeaway. Growing engineers is critical to the success of our business and the larger industry. Design Ready Controls is different than many others in the industry. We know that we have to invest a certain amount of training into each person new to our engineering...

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If you’re trying to enter the workforce or change careers, you’ve probably faced this problem: Many entry-level jobs require previous experience, but experience is hard to get without a job. It’s a frustrating situation. Still, “experience required” may not be a closed door for these reasons: 1. Experience isn’t always paid A request for two years of experience doesn’t necessarily mean two years of paid employment. Volunteer work, classroom projects, and internships are three examples of commonly overlooked experience. You don’t have to receive a paycheck or a W-2 form to have learned valuable skills. For example, a senior design...

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