All Posts By

Erin Dammen

Alliant Energy partner brings companies together to produce face shields

The COVID-19 crisis has temporarily closed the Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy in Ames. Rather than remain idle, our partner Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) has used their time and expertise to help companies make a difference.

CIRAS connected two Alliant Energy customers from different parts of the state who teamed up to make tens of thousands of face shields. The Dimensional Group of Mason City makes the front part of the face shields. Angstrom Precision Molding of Ottumwa makes the halos, which is the part workers wear around their head. Both companies are in the Alliant Energy service area.

In addition to connecting the two companies, CIRAS helped to make the project cost-efficient and quick, deploying a 3D printer and digital simulations in the process.

The companies, which had never worked together, are now producing thousands of face shields each week. They sell them to the state of Iowa for $1.25 each. The market price for similar equipment usually is $8 to $10 each. The state buys the equipment to distribute to hospitals and other medical facilities.

Despite their main business being down by 80%, the companies were able to retain their employees to make the face shields. Without Alliant Energy’s support of technology in manufacturing, this pivot might not have been possible. Alliant Energy is the largest private donor to CIRAS.

Alliant Energy has purchased 1,000 of these face shields and donated them to rural hospitals and long-term care facilities across the state of Iowa.

Focus on Energy recognizes Wisconsin’s top energy efficiency achievers

Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s statewide energy efficiency and renewable resources program, recently honored 13 winners for efforts to reduce energy waste. Focus on Energy offers energy expertise and financial incentives to help Wisconsin homeowners, businesses and other groups invest in energy-efficient equipment and practices.

By getting in on energy efficiency, this year’s award winners not only see reduced energy consumption and cost savings – they also support technology innovation, job creation, lowered environmental impacts, increased competitiveness and reduced dependence on nonrenewable resources.

Two companies served by Alliant Energy received awards.

Mercury Marine changes production and upgrades buildings

Mercury Marine is driven by environmentally conscious production and sustainable energy management. The company has made extensive production changes, building envelope upgrades, indoor and outdoor lighting conversions and compressed-air improvements. The company worked with Alliant Energy on energy efficiency projects from 2018 to present. Mercury Marine saves 2,733,386 kilowatt hours of electricity and 169,000 therms of natural gas annually, enough to power 478 homes for a year. The company also saves more than a quarter of a million dollars annually from energy reduction.

When expanding facilities at its headquarters in Fond du Lac, the company has used energy-efficient climate control and water-heating equipment, and it has used windows and natural light elements in the designs to lower energy costs.

Coextruded Plastic Technologies, Inc. finds savings with Advanced Rooftop Controls

Coextruded Plastic Technologies (CPT) makes Go-Green trays, which have a reduced carbon footprint compared to conventional thermoforming.

Directed to Focus on Energy by Alliant Energy, CPT has implemented multiple energy-saving projects like nine rooftop units installed in 2019 that include Advanced Rooftop Controls. These new units will help CPT save 14,575 therms of natural gas and 301,049 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. That’s enough to power more than 250 homes for a full year.

Iowa adds feed mill, expands plastic packaging manufacturer

Landus Cooperative grows feed business in Yale, Iowa

Landus Cooperative, a farmer-owned agricultural cooperative headquartered in Ames, Iowa, announced plans to increase their swine and beef feed business.  The company is investing $22 million in a new 400,000-ton mill on an 80-acre site in Yale, Iowa. The project will add 18 positions to the current 725 full-time employees.

Landus Cooperative provides bulk feed and toll-milling services to the swine, beef, dairy cow and poultry production industries. The company has a global reach, distributing their line of specialized, high-quality, soybean meal-based products across six continents.

Amcor Rigid Plastics to expand in Ames, Iowa

Amcor Rigid Plastics, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of rigid plastic packaging for the food, beverage, spirits, personal/home care and healthcare industries, is expanding their manufacturing operation in Ames, Iowa. This project represents a $3.1 million capital investment that will bring six new production lines and result in the creation of 42 new employment opportunities.

Amcor operates 59 facilities in 13 countries including an additional plant served by Alliant Energy in Centerville, Iowa.

Wellman Dynamics to grow in Creston, Iowa

Wellman Dynamics announced the purchase of a 315,000-square-foot manufacturing, office and warehouse space along with approximately 20 acres of land in Creston, Iowa. Initial production at the new facility will include castings manufactured by Wellman for the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter being manufactured for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Work on the $45 million project will take place over the next 12 months with plans for production in the facility targeted for 2022. Wellman Dynamics will create 50 new jobs to add to their existing workforce of 400 people.

Locate at the Midwest’s food and fuel hotspot in Ames, Iowa

If you’re looking for an attractive community with a well-educated workforce, take a closer look at Ames, Iowa.

Ames is well-positioned along the Interstate 35 corridor and home to land-grant Iowa State University, a tier-one research institution with 36,000 students. The university provides global reach in engineering plus agricultural expertise focused on plant science and animal health. Add to this the National Centers for Animal Health, a federal Department of Energy Laboratory, and the Iowa State University Research Park with nearly 90 companies all located in Ames and you can see a community poised for significant growth in a wide variety of industries.

Centrally and conveniently located in Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor, Ames is known for its healthy, stable economy and flourishing cultural life. The area is an attractive destination for new businesses to locate and for existing businesses to expand.

Prairie View Industrial Center
Ames is home to one of Alliant Energy’s premier sites. The Prairie View Industrial Center is a 730-acre site with excellent access to transportation. It is located just east of Interstate 35 and north of four-lane U.S. Highway 30. The Union Pacific Railroad serves the property off the adjacent double-track east to west mainline.

See the Digital Manufacturing Lab Powered by Alliant Energy in action

This exciting partnership between Alliant Energy and Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) helps businesses evaluate problems and find opportunities using innovative technology.

The lab utilizes departments across Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. It brings students and faculty from a variety of backgrounds to help companies solve problems and stimulate innovative ideas. CIRAS can help industry test new technology such as cobots, 3-D scanning and other technology and train staff how to use it.

Access a strong talent pipeline

To thrive now, businesses must respond to a constant battle for employees, which makes the relationship between quality of talent and business performance even more dramatic. Today and into the future, winning organizations are not those who outspend, but rather outmaneuver their competitors.

Communities across Alliant Energy’s service area provide industry with a continual pipeline to a highly skilled and well-educated workforce. Putting the right talent in the right place at the right time will greatly reduce companies’ overhead costs for the long term. Our market offers access to the best and most productive workers.

Iowa is #1 in the nation for high school graduation rate and #3 for 4-year college graduation rate. Every year, Iowa graduates over 2,000 engineers from 14 accredited institutions.

Wisconsin has a 91% high school graduation rate and nearly 30% of the population has a bachelor’s degree.

Read more about the talent pipelines in Iowa and Wisconsin.

Animal nutrition industry growing in Iowa and Wisconsin

Iowa and Wisconsin are home to several major names in the animal nutrition/pet food industries including Cargill Animal Nutrition, Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition, Nestle Purina PetCare and Mars Petcare. Operations in Iowa and Wisconsin are literally located in the middle of the North American market.

Over the next few years, animal nutrition production will enjoy a trend of steady growth and our location to beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine, poultry and sheep allows producers to get to the market faster and increase annual production revenue. Sales in the U.S. pet food industry are expected to continue to rise.

Read more about the animal nutrition industry

Two manufacturers expand production in Clinton, Iowa

Nestle Purina Petcare and Timken Drives, LLC announced expansions in Clinton, Iowa that combined will lead to the creation of 157 new jobs. This economic growth is a great thing in Clinton County, which has one of the highest rates of unemployment in Iowa at 4.1%.

Nestlè Purina PetCare plans to invest $140 million to expand its factory in Clinton, Iowa. Purina is the largest dry dog and cat food maker in the United States. Purina’s dry dog food business has grown 7% in the past year, which is twice the rate of the category overall.

Clinton has operated a Purina pet food factory since 1969. The plant is a hub for innovation and design of new products, in addition to producing flagship brands including Purina ONE and Purina Pro Plan, both of which are experiencing double-digit growth. The expansion will add new processing and packaging lines for the production of “dry,” or kibble-based, pet foods and lead to total job growth of 73 positions. “Purina is proud to produce high quality products for dogs and cats at our Clinton factory.” said John Bear, Vice President of Manufacturing, Purina.

Timken Drives, LLC, a subsidiary of Fulton, Illinois based Timken Company, is relocating its auger manufacturing operations to Clinton, Iowa. Timken Drives manufactures agricultural conveyor chains and auger assemblies for the off-highway mobile industrial market.  The new operation will create 84 new jobs.

United Alloy headquarters in Janesville, Wisc. gears up to support Texas expansion

United Alloy, Inc., based in Janesville, Wisc., is expanding into Seguin, Texas with a new $35 million facility. The 200,000 square-foot facility will sit on a 27-acre site and employ 100 people.

The headquarters plant in Janesville is currently installing the first of three robotic material handling systems that will provide additional capacity to supply the new facility in Texas. The equipment in Janesville will be operational once training of 30 additional team members is complete.

United Alloy made the decision to continue growing the Janesville plant, the hub of the US operations, due to their ability to draw highly skilled employees within the market. Blackhawk Technical College has partnered with United Alloy Academy training welders and fabricators the last five years. United Alloy has grown to over 400 employees in Janesville and is the largest welding, robotic welding and powder coating workforce in the Midwest.

The 20-year-old United Alloy location in Janesville has expanded three times in the last seven years. “United Alloy is growing because of our track record of attracting Wisconsin employees capable of building a world class organization,” said Tom Baer, United Alloy Chairman.

United Alloy, Inc. is a serial production metal fabrication and powder coating company that produces leak-proof metal fuel tanks, reservoirs, skids, frames, chassis, trailers, heavy metal fabrications and complex weldments.

Sustainable companies see faster growth

PepsiCo has announced plans to achieve 100% electricity for its U.S. operations this year. The company cited the threat of climate change as its biggest driver for switching to renewable energy. This move signals a significant shift by manufacturers to responsibly source energy and reduce emissions. According to a recent Nielsen report, consumers are also paying attention – companies with sustainability initiatives are growing faster than the ones that do not. “No matter what, sustainability is no longer a niche play: your bottom-line and brand growth depend on it,” the report states.

Alliant Energy understands this growing focus on sustainable energy and is working to meet these companies’ needs. The company recently announced a suite of renewable options that enables businesses in its Iowa and Wisconsin service area to meet 100% of their energy usage.

“We’re accelerating our transition to a clean energy future and putting renewable energy to work for our customers,” said John Larsen, Chairman, President and CEO of Alliant Energy.

With several offerings, companies can mix and match the different options to best fit their needs. Customers can even establish their own dedicated solar projects without needing internal expertise. Alliant Energy will build and maintain solar projects on behalf of customers.

Alliant Energy also leases space from customers for rooftop or ground-mounted solar and battery installations. Companies can turn their property into a source of income and demonstrate their commitment to renewable energy.

Several community solar sites across Wisconsin and Iowa are also in the works. Anyone interested in supporting sustainable energy can buy in. Participants can buy blocks in a local project and cover up to 100% of their usage.

Read more about Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint in our Powering What’s Next plan.