Energy Management, Technology, Engineering Services
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While employed at SCS Engineers in Madison, Herb Hannam worked with the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s manufacturing specialists on Profitable Sustainability Initiative projects over the course of two years.
“I’ve always been impressed with the depth of knowledge and capabilities of the group,” he said. “And serving the small to mid-size manufacturers fills a need that isn’t easily accomplished through other groups.”
Hannam then became part of the WMEP team and currently serves as a manufacturing specialist for the organization.
Herb worked as an engineer at manufacturer Giddings and Lewis for the first 25 years of his careers. As he described it, he helped “build the machines that made the machines.”
“I am always impressed how creative the people are that work in manufacturing,” he said.
After a brief hiatus to work in the fuel cell field, Herb took a job at Digi-Star, a small company in Fort Atkinson that manufactures weighing and measuring equipment for the agricultural industry.
“This reinforced the importance of manufacturing for me,” he said.
When he moved on to Alliant Energy and assisted companies in finding ways to reduce their energy usage, it was most often the manufacturers that had the most to gain, but also had the hardest time achieving the savings, Herb said.
“Although a critical resource, most manufacturers had many other irons in the fire and rarely could afford to give energy consumption the attention it deserved,” he claims.
As companies have matured and adopted advanced manufacturing methodologies, the energy consumption piece often bubbles to the top, Herb said.
“That combined with the push for sustainable manufacturing and the increasing costs of acquiring energy are making this a factor that is worth working on. Often the simple low hanging fruit has been picked by opportunistic vendors, leaving the hard work to companies like the WMEP to deal with,” he said.
In his role with the WMEP, Herb is working with the sustainability service line focusing on the energy piece of the equation.
Small to mid-size companies often have technical needs for which they can’t find solutions. Herb has assisted with filling these needs with an RTI sponsored program called Tech Scouting. This helps locate technologies in university or government research or parallel industries that may not be known to the company. A matching program that helps companies find new markets for their unique technical capabilities is also part of the offering, called Technology Driven Marketing Intelligence (TDMI).More recently he has been involved with the Transformational Productivity Initiative (TPI).
Wisconsin companies have experienced relatively flat productivity growth in the last 10 years. This leads to a gradual degradation in their competitive position. A formal assessment process has been developed that uses 5 factors to assess the productivity level of a manufacturer. One dimension is the state of technology absorption of the company. Herb has helped with the development of this dimension of the program.
“When the diagnostic process highlights energy as a factor to be addressed, I can add clarity to the magnitude of the opportunity and the methods that can be employed to address the need,” he said. “This may be product or process related.”
Born in Minneapolis, Herb also spent time in upstate New York until moving to Wisconsin. He’s a graduate of Cedarburg High School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He and his wife, Melanie, live in the Cross Plains area. They have three adult children – Katie, Jamie and Abbie. He enjoys playing softball with senior traveling teams Playmakers and Studz. He also winters in Phoenix for two months and has taken up golf to fill the spare time. Herb enjoys motorcycles, softball, hunting, windsurfing, diving, bicycling, fishing, camping, car repair and “whatever someone asks me to do.”