David Carson and his design team at Drafting Designs in Stuart, Fla., have their hands in many industries. They develop and document a variety of products in an array of sectors, from the marine industry to the aircraft industry. When the company wanted to bring in even more business, they knew they needed to become ISO certified and obtain those international quality management requirements in order to expand their business-to-business dealings.

"We wanted to become an ISO-certified facility, but we needed the staff to undergo skills improvement training for that to happen. The Florida Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Florida MEP) assisted us in obtaining an Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) grant so we could do that," said Carson, president of Drafting Designs. "Becoming ISO 9001:2000, ISO 13485:2003 certified opened many doors for our company and allowed us to grow our production facility."

Project manager Phyllis Morese and other members of the Florida MEP team also helped Drafting Designs track product development and drawings more efficiently through some new software.

"Drafting Designs is now looking strongly into expanding its market penetration, since having achieved two ISO standards and also obtaining the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certifications," said Morese. "Now they can tackle some high-end jobs and work with medical equipment design."

The Florida MEP also walked Drafting Designs through a Time Wise lean assessment, which showed them what production processes could use improvement and helped to implement those changes as well as organize the shop floor.

"We went through a lean assessment that Toyota is known for, which is a manufacturing kanban system,” said Carson. “Through a kanban, once there is a need for a service or item, the company pulls through and delivers those products instead of building something and waiting for a customer to purchase it. This way, there is less waste and less products taking up space on the shelf."

The company also participated in one of Florida MEP's Bid Matching with Supply Point, and as a result will be receiving a Bid Matching Gap Analysis. This will allow them to bid on government contracts and further expand their business into the government and military markets.

"With help from the Florida MEP, we've been able to take on another level of work and at the same time help local companies develop more products," said Carson. "These techniques they have taught us are invaluable and have allowed us to become a world-class organization."

The Florida MEP is an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The national MEP is a network of manufacturing extension centers that provide business and technical assistance to smaller manufacturers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Through MEP, manufacturers have access to more than 2,000 manufacturing and business "coaches" whose job is to help firms make changes that lead to greater productivity, increased profits, and enhanced global competitiveness. For more information on the Florida MEP program, call 321-939- 4000.