Supporting Student Invention Through Sponsorships

We all know how important it is to get young people interested in technical careers and to support their STEM education journey. At Red River Precision, we do this by getting involved in the community and sponsoring a local robotics team, Westwood Robotics.

The Westwood Robotics Team primarily does what their name suggests – they build robots. But beyond that, the team teaches students the fundamentals of design, problem solving, and outreach. Every year they take part in at least two major competitions. In the fall, they participate in BEST, and in the spring, they build a much larger robot for the FRC competition. They also host an FLL tournament themselves.

This past year was an especially active one for the team as they also exhibited their creations at Maker Faire and several other events. As far as successes, last year Westwood Robotics won the BEST marketing presentation, BEST Team spirit, and one of their members took home the Dean’s list award from FRC. They also placed 4th in BEST overall, 34/41 at the regional, and advanced to 34/67 at the world event, which had much steeper competition.

Red River Precision is pleased to see how far the Westwood Robotics team has come. We’ve been proud sponsors of the team, donating water jet cutting and form parts for them to use in their robots. These students are the next generation of manufacturing leaders, so we’re happy to help them build their careers in this hands-on way.

Learn more about the Westwood Robotics team by visiting their online site. To learn more about Red River Precision and our capabilities, visit us online or call 512-244-1508.

Texas Manufacturing Increases After Spring Slump

Factory production in Texas increased in August and September, showing an uptrend since the spring slump. According to the production index reported by the Federal government, manufacturing activity growth rose from 0.4 in July to 4.5 in August. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas conducted a survey in September, with manufacturers across the state reporting strengthened capacity, production, shipments, and employment.

The recent election and gas prices could turn out to affect the near future of manufacturing, although capacity use and shipments are higher than they have been for two years. Some respondents of the survey reported an increase in employment with a majority of firms hiring more workers. Wages, benefits, and number of hours worked also increased. Around two-thirds of survey respondents anticipate general business activity and their companies’ outlook to improve over the next six months.

According to the forecast summary from the comptroller for the State of Texas, the state is poised for growth in most areas. The gross state product is estimated to increase by almost $46 billion dollars from 2016 to 2017, so while some manufacturers still feel the slump, post-election reports may continue to show improvements. The Texas economy is the 10th largest in the world and despite oil prices dropping, strongly continues to expand.

Red River Precision Manufacturing, Inc. is a full service custom manufacturer of metal prototypes and products. Based in Austin, Texas, We contribute to the Texas economy by offering shearing, punching, water jet cutting, forming, sawing, drilling, welding, quality control equipment, inspection reports, certificates of compliance and AutoCad, Solid Works, and ProCAD/CAM software.

How to Attract the Next Generation to Manufacturing Jobs

Have you heard about the skills gap? The Skills Gap Report was first published in 2001 by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte. It was a “landmark study identifying the mismatch between the skills of available workers and skills that manufacturers demand.” The 2015 Skills Gap Report reinforces the findings of earlier reports that manufacturers will continue to face challenges in finding talent to prevent worker shortages in the near future.

Attracting the right workers to the industry is a must. As the Millennial generation enters the workforce, manufacturers will need to learn how to become more attractive to the next generation. One of the first steps is changing the view of the industry to potential employees. Manufacturing stills holds the reputation as being dirty or dangerous and providing little job security. Those of us in the business know that isn’t true. So, how do we appeal to millennials?

To become attractive to the workforce of the future, Motivated Monday offers insight into what Millennials are looking for in an employer. These 12 ways may help you understand this next generation to not only attract them but to retain them in the industry.  They are:

  1. Technology: Millennials have been raised with the best and newest technology. State of the art and cutting edge are where they gravitate to.
  2. Purpose: Millennials want to work for the greater good. A sense of community outreach and culture of purpose are what they are looking for.
  3. Work/Life Balance: Workplaces that allow employees to enjoy work, family, and fun are the most appealing.
  4. Feedback: Regular feedback is required to build employer loyalty. Communication is a key factor.
  5. Personable: Millennials want to connect and engage with bosses on a personal level.
  6. Training: This generation loves to learn new skills. Keeping this generation engaged at work takes training and development opportunities.
  7. Socialize: The 20-30 somethings want to build comraderies and loyalty. Outside of work socializing helps connect them to their workplace.
  8. Collaborative:  This group has been working in groups their whole lives. They thrive on working together to meet goals and having their ideas and input count.
  9. Challenge: They love to be challenged but require the right motivation to help them rise to the occasion.
  10. Charity: Raised in a community-service environment, they respond to companies that give back.
  11. Competitive: This group loves to win. A competitive atmosphere will drive them to hard work.
  12. Trustworthy: Trust does not come automatically for this group and must be earned. But, once they trust you they will give you their loyalty.

Our work with young people (see our April blog) has given us this insight into the workforce of the future. The talent is out there, but to maintain a strong workforce and eliminate the skills gap we must adjust to the changing times and understand where the next generation is coming from.  

June is National Safety Month

The National Safety Council’s (NSC) mission is safety at work, at home, and on the roads. In June, NSC and organizations across the country work to raise awareness of safety issues because staying safe isn’t an accident.  

Here at Red River we focus on safety daily, not just one month out of the year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were almost 3.2 million nonfatal workplace accidents by private industry employees in 2014. Keeping all of our employees safe is of prime importance. It’s a job we take very seriously. To do this we have safety measures in place and procedures employees must follow when working. The machining equipment and waterjet cutting machines can be dangerous if not used properly.

Safety measures for machine operators include simple procedures like wearing safety glasses at all times when on the shop floor. We also encourage that machine operators to not wear loose clothing, rings, watches, jewelry, or anything that can get caught in the machines. Sturdy shoes are also considered part of the proper attire.

For material handling personnel we require all forklift drivers to attend training classes on proper forklift procedures. Many accidents are caused by improper training of operators of forklift trucks. Because of our training requirements we have prevented many workplace accidents. We also work with our employees on proper lifting and ergonomic techniques to prevent back injuries.

Workplace cleanliness and organization also falls into the safety category. Putting tools back when finished and keeping walkways and workstations clear helps keep others from falling or getting hurt. Staying safe also means watching out for each other to prevent hazardous situations.

Workplace injuries are the leading cause of lost work time. But, lost work time is secondary to the value we place on keeping each employee out of harm’s way. Preventing accidents is the best way to stay safe and following set safety procedures is the best way to do that!

Red River Precision Joins up with Westwood High School’s Robotics Team

If you don’t have school aged kids you might not know about a new trend sweeping the nation. It isn’t dance, music, or clothing—It’s robotics. Yep, all across the country, teams of elementary, middle, and high school kids are coming together to engineer and build robots to compete against other teams. As the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) says it’s ‘the ultimate sport for the mind.’

We were extremely excited to be asked to help a local team build their robot to compete in FRC. We provided some water jet work they needed on 1 x 2 aluminum tubing. Their robot #2583 is impressive—big, orange and blue, with hooks that can grab onto things.

FRC had over 3,000 teams participating nationwide and 66 teams that participated in the Alamo region. The Westwood team and Robot 2583 did great! They advanced to the semi-finals for the first time and set a record for the team. Another first for the team was winning the entrepreneurship award where they had to ‘sell’ their robot to a panel of judges. You can watch Robot 2583 in action here and see photos from the competition. (Scroll to the bottom of the first page to see ‘our’ bot.)

A competition like this is exciting in so many ways. It builds teamwork and develops skills that will carry these students into careers like engineering or manufacturing. We are thrilled to be supporting the next generation of engineers and the school programs that are developing talent in the technology fields. Red River is proud of the job they did and looks forward to continuing to offer support and guidance as students continue to compete and explore engineering.

Red River Precision Manufacturing Gets into Clean Energy

Clean energy is a broad term for less polluting energy sources, which include large scale energy supplying sources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal but also smaller energy reducing products such as LED light bulbs and electric cars. The clean energy movement is taking shape across the U.S. as Americans are looking for ways to reduce energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and dependence on fossil fuels.

Even though the recent Supreme Court decision ruled to put the EPA’s Clean Power Plan regulations on hold, the clean energy movement is well underway and gaining speed. Cities across the country are signing on for new solar energy programs and residential solar is continuing to grow. Wind energy has found a greater footing in Europe than in the U.S. but projects are continuing on land and in the sea to build viable wind farms. The most amazing part of this clean energy boom is that it is often supported by local utilities. The end game is to cut greenhouse gasses but finding renewable energy sources that are reliable, effective, and efficient are also a major benefit.

With the growth of the clean energy industry, we recognize the needs the industry will face as it continues to expand. Precision metal forming will be required to continue to build the solar panels, wind turbines, and specialized components that will deliver electricity to more homes in more diversified areas. Red River Precision Manufacturing has the capabilities needed to handle the challenging requirements of the clean energy industry.

As the energy industry continues to move into cleaner sources, the bending, cutting, and machining services provided by Red River Precision Manufacturing will continue to be sought after. To learn more about how our metal fabrication services can meet the needs of the clean energy industry, as well as any other industry, please feel free to contact us.  

Work With A Small Business Like Red River Precision For Big Advantages

Small Is The New Big” is the title of one of business guru and best-selling author Seth Godin’s books. In fact, in the book, Godin writes, “Small is the new big. Recent changes in the way that things are made and talked about mean that big is no longer an advantage. In fact, it’s the opposite…” Godin goes on to say that your customers have more power now and “treating them like they don’t matter doesn’t work.”
That’s one of the main advantages of working with a small business like Red River Precision: You get more personalized service. You matter. And there are other advantages, too, like having the opportunity to easily make changes and customize a product or service when you work with a small business, like us.

At Red River Precision Manufacturing, we are proud to be a small business providing sheet metal fabrication from our 12,500-square-foot facility in Texas. We pay attention to our customers. We build relationships and get to know our customers’ needs, and we provide the best solutions that fit each customer’s budget, whether that budget or the project itself, is big or small.

We’ve made it our company’s mission to provide our customers with high-quality American-made products, On-time, and on-budget, from prototypes to short runs and volume production. We may be a small business, but we do provide big advantages — and even bigger value — to every one of our customers. And we plan on doing the same for many more years to come. We invite you to experience these advantages by working with us in 2016 and beyond, and we hope to hear from you soon!

Manufacturing Day & Red River Precisions

The first Friday of every October is celebrated as Manufacturing Day. It is an endeavor that attempts to present the modern face of manufacturing to the next generation of students and:

Drive home the importance of this activity to the prosperity of the nation.

Show them exactly how financially lucrative, respectable, rewarding and advanced a career in manufacturing and production can be.

This is accomplished through educational events, factory and plant tours and open question-answer sessions with industry influencers who not only orient the students but also their parents so that choosing manufacturing emerges as a viable alternative for many.

Red River Precision Manufacturing Inc. is an industry leader where providing manufacturing critical services like shearing, punching, water-jetting, drilling and forming are concerned.

During Manufacturing Day reflect about the past and welcome the future of manufacturing. We encourage any interested young students pursuing manufacturing to go for it.

Red River Precision is proud to carry the baton in favor of a bright future of manufacturing in the US. To know more about Manufacturing Day and how people are celebrating around the country visit.

Four Tips When Searching For A Metal Manufacturer

How do you choose the right metal fabricator for your company needs? Many sheet metal shops may have a similar approach, but here are the key elements to look for when choosing the right partnership for you.

Noticed how we mention partnership. Many sheet metal fabricators and their customers develop and rely on a trusting relationship for the overall success of the project.

Find a Fabricator or Custom Metal Manufacturer that has a culture of creating a partnership with their customers. One way of determining if they are is through their website. Do they have any special projects highlighted? Are any testimonials listed? Is there a place to request a quote or consultation? These are clues indicating the company not only gets the job done but that they provide a reliable customer service experience.

Choose a vendor that is in proximity to you or has a central location to avoid shipping delays or communication hurdles (i.e., different time zones)

Choose one who has experience with different metals or techniques. When a manufacturer has different capabilities, they can adjust methods to ensure you are within your budget or can generate better lead times.

Are they experts in their field? An experience and professional fabricator gives you reassurance your product will be of quality. Look for years of experience, ISO certifications, and business accreditations to confirm they are dependable.

Did these four tips help you choose a metal shop manufacture? If so we would love to have you share this content or tweet us @redriverprec letting us know.

If you are in search of a metal sheet manufacturer we invite you to visit our website or give us a call to discuss your needs today!

Red River Precision’s Prototyping 101

Red River Precision works on existing or never before built prototypes year round. Some designs are variations on an existing design or are from new customers. Regardless of the prototype Red River Precision aims for quality in all our projects. We want our work to be the solution for any of our customers’ prototype design challenge.

How Many…
When the design is set, the order may be anywhere from 1-10 in quantity. Many times one prototype is all a customer needs to ensure it is correct before full production, other times they may send it to other districts as well for a company-wide review. Red River accommodates any amount necessary for analysis.

How To…
Typically prototyping is usually a quick resolution but there are other circumstances where customers may need more of our expertise and assistance with a prototype. When one of our customers’ needs a bit more assistance, we are happy to step up and consult all their options with them.

How Much…
We review the design, any cost-saving procedures that may work for their budget, like special tooling to reduce labor costs or substitutions in assembly methods other than welding and sanding. We can also advice on how we can incorporate extra LEAN manufacturing options if they are an environmentally conscience company. We enjoy working with all our customers to guarantee their satisfaction and to work with their needs and budget.