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TechHelp — Helping Idaho Manufacturers Produce Vital Products 

Despite the COVID pandemic and in some ways because of it, the manufacturing specialists at TechHelp have been busy helping Idaho manufacturers produce products vital to our lives and well-being.

Last quarter, in an independent survey, 37 Idaho manufacturers reported that their work with TechHelp led to new and retained sales of $32M and the creation and retention of 156 jobs. The companies reported nearly $2M in cost savings and productive investments in their products, processes, plants, and people of nearly $8M. The biggest challenges reported were product innovation and development (55%), continuous improvement/cost reduction strategies (52%), and employee recruitment/retention (45%).

FeltSafe mask

TechHelp and its partners recently helped a group of health care professionals who wanted to manufacture a face covering that is safe for use in behavioral institutions. Karena Nielsen, Kallie Penchansky, and Kathleen (Kathy) Romero work at a live-in mental health care facility in the Treasure Valley. When masks became required, the women quickly realized that traditional masks with metal nose clips and long strings were too dangerous for any high-risk population. They developed a safer prototype and founded Happy & Harmless Global to mass-produce their FeltSafe masks. A patent is pending, and the intent is to get the product to market as quickly as possible.

TechHelp’s food manufacturing team was about halfway through its Idaho Food Safety Cooperative (IFSC) Program when COVID hit. The group quickly pivoted to a virtual model that gave companies from around the state the opportunity to complete training to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act. The Food Team built on its IFSC experience and created an aggressive schedule of 15 online courses and webinars designed to meet client needs during the pandemic. Topics included food safety, leadership, practical sensory programs, applied quality management, and applied pathogen monitoring. Instructors tailored course materials to a virtual environment by creating short, interactive, engaging segments.

TechHelp’s Operational Excellence Team also transitioned to a virtual model during the pandemic and delivered a Lean Six Sigma course to 26 participants from 12 organizations. Each participant completed an in-plant project that incorporated the value-added focus of Lean Manufacturing with the statistical rigor of Six Sigma.