Right Place business talk Web site set

May 8, 2009
| By Pete Daly |
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A continuous improvement network set up on the Internet for West Michigan business managers last summer has changed its name and will be the focus of an informational event at the GVSU Eberhard Center in Grand Rapids May 21.

OpEx stands for operational excellence. It was formerly called Manufacturing Skills Co-op/BIC, which was created by The Right Place last August. One local business manager who has been involved with the online networking group since its start said it is very helpful, and that the name was changed so people would not think it only pertained to manufacturing.

The free event, which runs from 7:30-9:30 a.m., will reveal how companies are using it, with participants talking about how they have reduced costs while improving operational efficiencies. Reservations are required by May 15 and can be made online at www.opexnetwork.com

Dale Dulyea, who is responsible for improving the lean manufacturing processes at Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping, said GRS&S has been involved with the network since its launch. Dulyea said the online networking organization was re-branded by The Right Place because it really is applicable to many types of businesses.

"We like it," said Dulyea, adding that "networking to me is huge" as a way of learning what other companies are doing to improve their bottom line.

According to The Right Place, OpEx allows a company to track its current business performance in comparison to similar companies, indicating areas to target for improvement. Collaboration with other companies is possible in the network, with best-in-class resources shared among the members.

The event will also explain how companies can access Economic Development Job Training and Michigan New Jobs Program grants for training initiatives.

Before the site was set up by The Right Place last year, "we struggled with our lean efforts, going from one hot topic to the next with little formal structure," said Mark Lindquist of Rapid-Line Inc. "We even tried the Shingo award system, but found that we were only measuring ourselves against ourselves, so progress was really subjective. We needed a system that has some real structure and a competitive benchmark orientation.”

Membership in OpEx costs a company from $90 to $100 per month, but members say the value of collaboration with other companies is worth it. The collaboration is only open to members.

The online tool takes a forward approach to benchmarking and encourages interaction with other companies seeking to improve their performances. There are "discussion boards" for posting and exchanging ideas and practices, plus a library of documents posted by member companies, articles, research reports, area statistics, research databases and more.

Dulyea said GR Spring & Stamping uses the charts in its continuous improvement planning and has shared information about its progress.

“We’ve benefited from networking on several subjects," said Dulyea. "(We’ve) used the comparative charts to identify areas for targeted improvement for the upcoming year, and the resource materials posted on the site for internal training. In keeping with the spirit of the network, we’ve also contributed best practices and training material to the resource library, which is accessible to all members.”

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