The 4th of 5 Core Values that MME employees work to follow is founded on the idea that each day we are all striving for continuous improvement in our professional and personal lives.

Recently, nine MME employees got together for a four day “Kaizen” marathon, led by MME Program Manager Tim Reberg. What’s Kaizen? Kaizen is a Sino-Japanese word (originating from Chinese) that translates to “improvement” or “good change”. A project or process is broken down step-by-step, piece-by-piece, with an objective of finding the most streamlined procedures to maximize efficiency.

The best way to describe the results of a Kaizen event is eliminated waste. Finding the waste can be as simple as noticing something visual (moving a parts box closer to an assembler for quicker access), or strategically investigating a system to reveal flaws that would otherwise go unnoticed. That’s why Kaizen can be so useful. It is a window of time that encourages the active purge of speed bumps, and the discovery then elimination of elements that aren’t helpful.

Kaizen is also a chance to get direct feedback in a positive atmosphere from your most valuable asset — the employees on the floor who are submerged in the project every day. “Participation from production employees is very important as they possess intimate knowledge of the process and what the issues and opportunities are,” Program Manager Reberg says.

Since it would be easy to just rehash information about Kaizen you can find easily online with a Google search, below is list some specific points that we include during our Kaizen events that may be helpful if you’re planning or participating in your own.


1. Gain support and specify the target.

Don’t start yet!

“The best advice I can give anyone planning a Kaizen event,” Reberg says, “is to first secure management’s support. Without that, the event will not succeed.”

It works well to identify the activity or process you want to improve prior to the event so that there are defined terms, while leaving room for discovery.

A beautiful thing about Kaizen is that you don’t need to be addressing a negative. You can “Kaizen” something that already is working pretty well, even when it’s reaching expectations or meeting quota. That is continuous improvement.

Our Kaizen was aimed at the final three assembly stations of an important customer’s product. We chose these three stations because they were identified as having potential for the most improvement.


2. Recruit employees from different areas.

Ideally, the majority of the team is familiar with the project and understands the basics. However, increase the range of perspectives by including those who have different responsibilities. Reberg adds, “It’s important to select a diverse team ranging from people

who have never been exposed to the process or product being Kaizen’d, all the way through to the experts.”

If it’s available to you, even try to include a “wild card” member. This is somebody from a different part of the company entirely who’s there to throw out questions that get the team thinking outside the box, or propose ideas or changes that might go overlooked by someone who’s already deep into the process that’s being improved.


3. Timing.

Find a string of consecutive days that are dedicated to the event. This will help reduce distractions and keep focus on the improvements. Also, confirm beforehand with each team member that the event is not interfering too much with their other duties. You’ll get the most in return if each person is 100% engaged and not worried about other things.


4. Lay out the plan.

There should be a designated leader of the event. This person is responsible for driving all team meetings. For us, 3 meetings per day during the event is the minimum.

The leader should clearly explain what Kaizen is, why the people who are there were invited, and train the team about the expectations. “Training materials tailored to the experience level of the team is a must” Reberg states.

Also, prepare a schedule for each day. Ours looks something like this:

Morning meeting: 8:00 – 9:00

Work out on floor: 9:00 – 12:00

Lunch: 12:00 – 12:45

Afternoon meeting (and brainstorming): 12:45 – 2:00

Work out on floor: 2:00-4:00

Meeting: 4:00-4:30


5. Draw visuals and include things that are easy to see.

We draw a Spaghetti Diagram that traces the current path of the worker(s) during assembly. This provides a bird’s eye view of their movements and makes it easier to diagnose where parts and components can be moved to decrease time in between steps.

After the event, you can re-draw the Spaghetti Diagram to visualize the number of steps (time) that have been saved.

During daily meetings, the leader can write in marker on large easel paper important details. This information can be hung on the wall for easy viewing.


6. Standardize Improvements

If you are able to eliminate waste and find new processes to improve efficiency, make the changes you made the standard. Retrain the employees that work in the process and get the new steps in writing as the new normal.

Reberg explains, “Creating visual management tools, one-piece flow manufacturing, workstation organization, high quality yields and standard work ensure that day-to-day manufacturing operations are much more predictable.”


7. Have Fun!

Reberg concludes, “Kaizen is an excellent tool to solicit employee engagement. They experience the satisfaction of seeing their ideas were heard and are being put to use. This is a big boost to employee morale.”


Other things to keep in mind:

  • If your intentions don’t include reducing labor, make sure employees know beforehand that the goal of a Kaizen event is not to lay anybody off, but rather eliminate process waste and/or redirect resources to other areas of the project or company that need help. The goal is to make people’s jobs easier, not get rid of them.
  • On the final day of the Kaizen event, invite employees to a PowerPoint presentation that walk them through the 4 days, and share your results! Positive news is always good to share, and improvements are encouraging while reinforcing the “continuous improvement” mindset company-wide.


Learn more about MME:

America remains a world-leader in manufacturing. However, manufacturing overseas, specifically in China, is generally less expensive. There are several reasons for this, some of which include lower labor costs, less development and engineering related costs, America’s shift to a service-based economy in the 1990’s, and continual high volumes of Chinese production output over the years has acted as a learning curve, yielding high efficiency.

However, manufacturing products overseas such as in China presents a lot of risk. Below are a few reasons why keeping manufacturing in the US should be the preference for established American companies and startups.


Running the risk of being copied and intellectual property stolen:

There are many horror stories about fantastic, patent-pending surefire product ideas making their way to China for manufacturing, only for the inventor to see numerous cheaper knockoffs for sale online at the snap of a finger.

One startup company with a new idea for storing a selfie-stick posted a promo video of the product on their Kickstarter campaign. Less than a week later, knockoffs made in China were available for 1/3 of the price the inventor was planning on selling them for.

If your product(s) have several parts or involves some complexity, it is especially important to try and keep the manufacturing in the United States. Once CAD drawings or a prototype is shipped overseas, you’ll be at risk.


Miscommunication is costly:

You want to be able to communicate efficiently with the people making your product and essentially handling your business’s future. Any changes in design or revisions to materials used will usually extend deadlines. This can create a mess to clean up with investors. A high-quality product made correctly once is cheaper than a low-quality product made two, three, or more times.

A business choosing manufacturing in the U.S. can visit the facility much easier to visit with staff and witness the production cycle.

Nebia Spa Shower – Made in the U.S.A.


Having pride in being American made now and in the future:

Surveys come out every year concluding that American’s prefer to buy American-made goods. 95% of Americans favor USA made products, according to The Alliance for American Manufacturing. If there is demand for your product, it is well made, and you include “Made in America” in branding, you’ll be happy with the results.

The future of manufacturing in America appears to be bright. However, manufacturing companies are desperate to find skilled people to fill job openings. Young people have veered away from the industry, in large part, to misconceptions about what a career in manufacturing consists of. It’s important for all of us to show young Americans the importance of the industry and how valuable skilled technicians, engineers, toolers, and other positions are to our country, and that a career in manufacturing can be very rewarding in many ways.


Manufacturing continues to be the backbone of America:

HurryCane – #1 selling cane in America, made in America.


In 2018, manufacturing generated 11.6% of us economic output.

Currently, 8.6%, or 12.75 million people, of the American workforce is employed in manufacturing. Despite those numbers, however, 89% of manufacturers cannot fill job openings.

U.S. manufacturing is the largest in the world. It produces 18.2 percent of the world’s goods. That’s more than the entire economic output of Canada, Korea, or Mexico.


Electronics manufacturing service (EMS) providers are many times incorrectly chosen as the default choice for a contract manufacturing partner.

When multiple manufacturers are working on a product that includes electronic components, the printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) manufacturer frequently serves as the de facto coordinator and assembler of all components from other manufacturers. At MME group, our experience tells us that businesses benefit when they question this inefficient and all-too-common practice.

PCBA professionals, while immensely skilled, do not typically focus on the full spectrum of manufacturing and assembly capabilities necessary to coordinate multiple manufacturing partners. Instead, they focus on their primary function: Printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) services, and everything else is outsourced. As a result, the product development and launch process takes longer than it should. Natural revisions and product changes that take place during any development process, instead of being handled quickly, lead to communication and logistical delays.


Outsourcing project components:



A Common and Often Problematic Configuration

Many businesses use this manufacturing partner configuration. However, this can lead to long turnaround times for even minor adjustments, among other challenges.

The new default for a contract manufacturing partner should be one that is more vertically integrated, and has a depth of expertise beyond building circuit boards. A full-service manufacturer can quickly identify and act on component adjustments to incorporate a circuit board, but a board manufacturer must frequently communicate with numerous component manufacturers in order to make similar adjustments. The resulting inefficiencies can be costly and increase the time it takes to bring a product to market.

Why Business Initially Use That Configuration

When a business selects a PCBA manufacturer as the lead contract manufacturer on a project, the choice typically revolves around software updates, firmware updates, and embedded system analyses and management practices during development and into final programming and testing. It is assumed that because a mechanical manufacturer does not build PCBA boards they will not be able to provide support. It is likewise assumed that the PCBA manufacturer of choice will elect not to be cooperative in helping with those types of issues.

That is often not the case.

At MME group, for example, we are a mechanical manufacturer with PCBA partners who bring expertise and resources to bear. These PCBA professionals are able to focus on what they do best. This is preferable when compared to their providing assembly, logistics, and other services that fall outside of their expertise.

In truth, many PCBA board manufacturers prefer to focus on their core strengths – making circuit boards and providing electronic engineering support – instead of serving as the full-service contract manufacturer on a project. However, many businesses initially fail to understand this and instead focus on enlisting PCBA manufacturers as their full-service provider.

An Improved Manufacturing Partner Configuration

With a fuller breadth of skills to make component adjustments in house, a full-service contract manufacturer can streamline communication, bring about cost savings, provide important design insights, and bring a product to market most quickly. This, in short, utilizes PCBA manufacturers to their full potential and allows each member of the team to focus on core strengths.


Project components in-house:



End-to-End Contract Manufacturing Solutions

Businesses turn to MME group for end-to-end, vertically integrated contract manufacturing solutions. Our depth of experience and ability to coordinate between multiple partners allows us to tackle unique challenges – making us a leading organization for businesses seeking a true manufacturing partnership.

Read more about our contract manufacturing capabilities:

What’s the Weld You Want?


The very fact that you’re reading this piece means that it’s highly likely you’re aware of Hot Plate Welding. Good; you’re our kind of person.

But is Hot Plate Welding right for your project?  Does it provide the very best solution to your problem?

There are multiple ways to bond two thermoplastic surfaces; Hot Plate Welding is one of them, along with Glue, Spin, and Sonic Welding to list a few. 

Before you choose the process that’s right for you, you need to consider a range of factors, all of which could have an influence on your decision.

MaterialsWhat’s the most appropriate and efficient process for the materials you need bonded?

Hot Plate Welding is certainly one of the most durable processes, but under certain circumstances other applications could provide similar results. MME group will work with your team to help understand the product requirements and testing, then come up with materials and make the appropriate recommendation for the application.

ScaleWhat volume of product will you need to produce to reach a viable price point?

This is where you need to find the sweet spot.  Hot Plate Welding can often come at a higher price point for lower quantities, but may be the best option based on part geometry, part size, and material selection. MME engineers partner with customers to find the best solution to fit the project’s needs.

TestingDo you need every part fully tested to prove functionality before delivery?

Quality in materials and process mitigates risk. MME can work with your team to determine the best testing methods and build testing equipment to your specific needs.

EnvironmentAre you aware of the environment in which the product will be used? 

In environments of extreme temperatures or pressure, Hot Plate Welding passes every test. But if those factors aren’t in play, other bonding applications may suit the job well enough.

ProcessIs the process you choose robust and repeatable?

Reliability and repeatability are two of the key benefits of Hot Plate Welding.  When there is little room for error, Hot Plate Welding is top dog.

Choosing Hot Plate Welding isn’t simply selecting an application. The equipment itself must operate at a capacity to produce the results you expect.

We have two vertical machines capable of contact and non-contact welding, and depending on the size of the part being processed, they have a typical cycle time of somewhere between 20 and 40 seconds.

Batteries, fuel tanks, automobile lighting, washer bottles, medical devices…whatever particular assembly challenge your company is facing, we can offer a quick, effective Hot Plate Welding solution.

For further information or to organize a demonstration of MME’s Hot Plate Welding capabilities, contact Alan Christensen… Lead Manufacturing Engineer …OFFICE: 651 289 8932   MOBILE: 651 270 2160

Manufacturing accounts for more than 12 million jobs in the U.S1. It is a critical industry with an economic impact that goes far beyond the manufacturing sector. With higher than average employee wages and the “multiplier effect,” manufacturing is an economic game-changer.

In the second quarter of 2015, the average total annual compensation (including benefits, insurance and retirement) earned by a manufacturing employee was $76,8772, whereas, those employed in the private sector earned an average of $45,3693. Manufacturing employees’ higher wages open the doors to a higher standard of living and overall greater spending—money that is put back into the economy.

Manufacturing creates a cycle of growth that affects other sectors. As manufacturing grows, it requires more employees, resources and suppliers to support its output. Directly and indirectly, supporting sectors increase their activities, resources and create new jobs as well.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis summary provided by the Manufacturing Institute, every dollar input into final sales of manufactured products supports $1.33 in economic output from other sectors4. The effect manufacturing has on other sectors and the economy is called the multiplier effect. No other sector has a greater effect than manufacturing!

Manufacturers develop national wealth and power through innovation. The economic significance of the manufacturing industry is impressive while perhaps underestimated. Manufacturing is arguably the main driver of economic growth in the U.S.A. and we’re proud to be a part of its success.

Learn more about MME group contract manufacturing services.


1,2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Manufacturing: NAICS 31-33

3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Economic News Release. Sept. 9, 2015.

4 Manufacturing Institute – U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Annual Input-Output Tables

27 Mar 2015

ITAR Registered

In the manufacturing industry, ITAR registration is the gold standard for abiding by strict security and compliance regulations. ITAR registered companies understand and adhere to U.S. export laws for government projects.

MME group is ITAR certified with the U.S. Department of State – Directorate of Defense Trade Controls.

ITAR certification ensures that a company operates in accordance with federal rules and regulations related to defense controls. MME group meets ITAR requirements related to company structure, corporate policy, training, documentation and procedures.

“The ITAR certification provides customers with an added layer of confidence when partnering with MME group,” said Mark O’Hanlon, quality lead at MME group. “By earning the ITAR certification, MME group provides customers with peace of mind knowing their project details are secure and kept confidential.”

MME group employees complete training that ensures they understand the sensitive nature of their work. With training and compliance, MME group maintains confidentiality during and after project completion.

As a supply chain partner, MME group ensures that its customers will always comply with ITAR regulations; careful attention is paid to the entire supply chain and materials management process.

“ITAR certification is just one more safeguard we put in place to ensure high quality manufacturing. We are also ISO 9001 and 13485 certified,” said Brian Bussmann, vice president at MME group.

The ISO 13485:2012 certification demonstrates MME group’s ability to adhere to quality requirements and regulations applicable to medical component manufacturing.  ISO 9001:2008 addresses various aspects of best-known standards for quality management systems.

27 Mar 2015

Bundled Savings

Supply chain management leads to bundled savings

Cambium Network, a leading global provider of wireless broadband solutions, needed a manufacturing partner to provide plastic parts for their Wireless connectivity device. MME group manufactured the parts, and provided the value-added benefit of utilizing vertically integrated cost-saving solutions.

MME group provided a total solution for their customer’s parts project. The Company’s technical expertise in regular plastics, molding and DFMA put them in the position to provide the best solutions up front.

MME group negotiated lower prices to purchase coating and raw materials. They bought materials in bulk and coordinated ordering efforts to reduce cost.  They also introduced a custom designed shipping box that came in at an overall lower cost.

The part was manufactured, shielded, assembled and shipped from the MME group facilities in St. Paul, Minn. Supply chain management handled by experienced MME team members contributed to cost reduction.

Turnkey assembly and shipping solutions decreased delivery time. The Company assembled MME group molded parts to the shield, applied logos to the product, and handled all international shipment requests.

MME group’s end-to-end manufacturing solutions turned a routine request to manufacture parts into a supply chain management success story.

27 Mar 2015

Get to Market Faster

Vertically integrated manufacturing gives customers the competitive edge

One of the key challenges that customers face is getting to market on time.

At first glance, sourcing materials, parts and production, and assembly to the lowest bidders sounds like a suitable approach to minding the company budget. However, this approach is problematic. There is less certainty that a collection of suppliers will be able to deliver on time and maintain quality. Thus, resulting in increased expenses and delays to production.

Minimizing supply chain challenges will help get customer products to market faster.

MME group is a vertically integrated manufacturer with a demonstrated understanding of the supply chain process. This means we become a trusted partner to our customer. We invest in the project from start to finish. We ensure that lean manufacturing processes are applied. We are experts in supply chain management; we create a seamless supply chain that is aligned and working toward meeting the customer’s goal.

Our team works closely with customers to prioritize, manage resources, develop schedules and identify team roles. We work with customers to understand and provide solutions to budget constraints.

We incorporate Design for Manufacture (DFM) and Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) methodology to anticipate manufacturing costs, materials and design early in the process. We use this technology to select the most appropriate manufacturing approach for the product.

We apply Early Supplier Involvement (ESI) at various stages of product development from planning to design to manufacturing. Our early involvement and long standing relationship with suppliers allow us to leverage additional experience and expertise. This supports open communication, an on-going comprehensive design evaluation, and determine appropriate program needs for the customer.

Vertical integration provides MME group customers with many benefits. Choosing MME group gives customers greater access to experienced and knowledgeable engineering and design teams, resources and more control over outcomes.

Ultimately, vertical integration controls costs and helps customers get their product to market faster. MME group’s ability to deliver supply chain management is the key to the Company’s highly regarded reputation for trust, quality and end-to-end integrated manufacturing solutions.

Learn more about MME group’s services. If you have questions about how MME group can help your product get to market, please email or call Brian Bussman at (651) 483-0965.

27 Mar 2015

Onshore Manufacturing

There is a growing trend to reshore manufacturing back to the U.S. as companies realize the true costs and advantages associated with onshoring. 

The turn of the century marks a significant time in manufacturing history. In large numbers companies moved manufacturing offshore. Labor costs were cheaper, the cost of shipping decreased, moving product became less of an obstacle, and international communication became less of a barrier. 

What companies did not forecast were the challenges to offshoring. Nor, how American manufacturers would leverage the shift to create opportunities for improved equipment, labor and processes. 

During the past 10 years, American manufactures have strategically and creatively developed competitive pricing solutions. A number of improvements have been applied that do not sacrifice quality, yet, allow the manufacturer to employ higher priced domestic labor.

The cost to employ and source offshore is unpredictable. Labor costs are rising in most emerging countries. And currency fluctuations from year-to-year add unexpected costs. Onshore manufacturing is steadily closing the gap on foreign wages. 

Modern day onshore manufacturers manage resources and provide solutions to budget constraints.

Design for Manufacture (DFM) and Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) methodology is applied and used to anticipate manufacturing costs, materials and design early in the process. New manufacturing technologies and automation are utilized. Cost reduction efforts with a focus on continuous improvement are a mainstay for today’s domestic manufacturer.

The allure of manufacturing overseas has lost its luster as offshore customer service delivery has deteriorated. We can all agree that international communication is better than it was 10 years ago. However, it’s not without complications. Communication breakdown, misunderstood direction and poor customer service lead to costly mistakes.  

An experienced domestic supply chain manufacturer understands the significant value of communication. Shorter production times, reduced error rates and top-notch customer satisfaction are onshore benefits—and cost saving solutions—that many companies realize after they’ve experienced an egregious dissatisfaction overseas. 

Explaining that something was “lost in translation” takes on a whole new meaning when a misunderstanding affects your company’s production schedule.

Onshore manufacturing also eliminates the need for overseas shipping which can result in longer lead times and can significantly increase the overall cost of the product. Unforeseen shipping challenges may occur, and often time offshore manufacturers require companies to maintain larger inventories. 

Onshore manufacturing reduces the potential for shipping difficulties that could be detrimental to a company’s product launch, reputation and profits.

There are also costly landed costs  – otherwise known as hidden or unknown costs. Landed costs include taxes, import fees, offshore scheduling and resource management fees.

Most importantly, quality is often unknowingly sacrificed. Overseas vendor management and governance has a direct impact on product quality. Companies must trust that the quality systems that are applied in the U.S. are also followed offshore. If a problem arises, a company may have little recourse available overseas. Thus, offshore manufacturing can play out like a costly game of chance.

Made in the U.S.A. is more than a label. As Americans, we take pride in what we build. American manufacturing has grown stronger and wiser to overcome challenges faced by offshore competition. At MME group, ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ is a guarantee to customers that quality, price, communication and on-time delivery are never sacrificed.

Learn more about MME group’s Made-in-the-USA services or please email or call Brian Bussmann at (651) 483-0965.