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Solving Tomorrow’s Challenges, Today – Crystal Group Receives Manufacturing 4.0 Grant

May 27, 2022 | Economic Development & Workforce

Crystal Group

Offering integrated solutions that are tailored to meet the exact needs of clients, Crystal Group incorporates emerging technologies, cybersecurity, environmental performance and unique requirements for the latest, most reliable systems to achieve today’s objectives for tomorrow’s success. In other words, they create incredibly important technological equipment for all U.S. Military branches as well as automotive and utility industries across the board.

“We are a defense contractor, rugged contractor, tech company all wrapped into one.” Says Michael Kruger, Director of Facilities at Crystal Group. “The Manufacturing 4.0 grant we felt was written around Crystal Group, because it is all about technology based advancements just like we are. That’s why we were so excited to apply and thrilled to receive the grant because this is what we do.“

The Manufacturing 4.0 Workforce Innovation Program addresses workforce issues by assisting manufacturers that were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and demonstrate the ability to utilize manufacturing 4.0 technologies. To help Iowa’s manufacturing industry recover from the pandemic and remain globally competitive, it prioritizes companies that are:

  • Addressing workforce shortages that are limiting the company in either growth or sales.
  • Retaining existing employees by refocusing human capital from manual, labor-intensive positions into highly-skilled, value-added occupations through the integration of varying robotic and automated systems.
  • Helping manufacturers increase productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness through the acquisition of Industry 4.0 technology and equipment.

Big plans and projects are already in the works with the funds provided to Crystal Group. The team is spreading the funds across different departments of the business, and implementing six main projects:

Real-Time Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Tracking System – The RFID tracking system allows employees to monitor tool locations, government owned assets, and the possibility to track jobs in the future across the floor. It can also be used as a system to identify areas of improvement by understanding how jobs flow through production.

Production Support 3D Printer – The Stratasys 450mc 3D Printer is used in creating temperature resistant and ESD safe production fixtures to support operations. This allows for high-quality fixtures and rapid prototypes to be generated in-house and ready to use on the same day.

Flatbed Cutting Plotter and Laser Etch – The plotter can cut and score insulation and gap pad material enabling employees to make these parts in-house eliminating excessive lead time and expenses. The laser will take the place of decals and silkscreen by labeling chassis using a high-powered fiber laser marking system also cutting down on lead time and material costs.

Curve Software and BT Metrology Equipment– Curve will be utilized by the Coordinating Measuring Machines (CMM) programmers so they can switch away from fully dimensioned prints. This will make the engineering design process faster allowing employees to get product to customers quicker. The Bluetooth measuring equipment will be used for a more automated and efficient inspection process.

Wire Harness Test and Label Equipment – Cirris testers are being added to continue increasing quality, reducing the time spent testing each wire harness, and allow for growth in the wire harness area. In addition, another wrapping system will be installed to reduce the time spent manually printing, wrapping, or flagging labels on larger wire harnesses.

Automated Vertical Storage – Adding another vertical storage continues to increase the throughput in the stockroom and decrease the human interface to mitigate mistakes.

“Everyone on the team is so excited about this grant, because it is focused on exactly what we specialize in,” says Kruger. “We have no plans to eliminate any jobs, we are now just able to do more with less. This gives us more capability to get things out to our customers faster and with better quality. Everything we do is for our customer.”

It’s an honor to have Crystal Group as a business in our own backyard doing incredible work for clients across the globe. They are invested in their work, in their team, their clients and their community. The Economic Alliance congratulates them as recipients of the Manufacturing 4.0 grant and is excited to see what future endeavors these new projects help them achieve. To learn more about Crystal Group, visit their website at