Redefining the Capacity Utilization Process
CHALLENGE: Continual improvement requires real-time results. For manufacturers, having instant access to real-time production line and machine performance data is particularly important in optimizing capacity utilization, that is, the relationship between what is produced and what could be produced if capacity was fully used. Professional MBA (ProMBA) student Matthew Bouvia, a senior industrial engineer at Edgewell Personal Care Company, was part of a team tasked with aggregating capacity utilization measures. The company’s current process was laborious and yielded dated results. The team had brainstormed ways to improve the process, and being part of the ProMBA program gave Bouvia the time, support, and opportunity to address the issue while still working fulltime.
PROJECT: Bouvia’s Organizational Action Project focused on automating and standardizing data collection and analysis to improve capacity utilization.Read more
Eliminating a Waste and Creating Value
Two engineers and ProMBA students partnered and formed a company that works with local, state, regional and federal governments to develop and improve infrastructure and public services. It also works with private developers, architects and contractors to develop and redevelop property throughout the Southeast.
The concept for their company was to establish a competitive edge by effectively applying Lean principles within their industry. Working with faculty members, they identified and eliminated waste and created value from the customer’s viewpoint.
Since its inception, the company has grown to 15 employees and has over $3 million in revenues. A unique corporate culture has developed within the company. Human resources are ‘pooled’ and then ‘pulled’ as necessary based on the workload, and at the end of each year, profits are divided among the employees. The ownership aspect of the entrepreneurial culture was strengthened when three employees were allowed to buy stock in the company.
Improving Production Line Capacity
CHALLENGE: Aluminum is on a roll with North American auto makers. The drive to build lighter, safer, stronger, and more fuel-efficient vehicles is fueling the demand for aluminum sheet. To keep pace, aluminum manufacturers need to be ready to regularly—and nimbly—ramp up production. Scheduling to meet demand is more efficient when the entire production workforce is trained for complete interchangeability. As Professional MBA (ProMBA) student Sempangi Jones, Human Resource Business Partner at Arconic, Inc., discovered, such flexible scheduling wasn’t an option on the HotLine, the department responsible for making aluminum sheet at the Arconic, Inc. plant in Alcoa, Tennessee. Instead of being interchangeable, the HotLine department was divided into three separate mills, each requiring a unique skill set.
PROJECT: Jones’ Organizational Action Project focused on improving productivity, eliminating redundancy, and reducing costs by cross-training the hourly workers on the HotLine.Read more
Empowering a Goal-Aligned Team
A marketing product manager for a multinational corporation engaged in commercial and residential electrical engineering technology used the Organizational Action Project component of his ProMBA to revive sales on an established product line.
Working with mentors at Haslam, the manager refocused his sales team by instituting weekly conference calls, setting goals, regularly updating forecasts and providing product education. Younger reps were assigned to mentors, and a change-averse staff became an informed, empowered and goal-aligned team.
The manager used accounting and financial tools to maximize profitability margin for each customer solution sold. He analyzed revenues, cost of goods sold and overhead expenses to understand what each component actually cost the company.
Ultimately, these techniques helped the product line realize its potential and sales met the company’s high expectations for more than four years.
Optimizing Cargo Space
A Haslam ProMBA student who also completed a Six Sigma Black Belt certification at the college reduced shipping costs for her company, which designs, manufactures, distributes and services engines.
Working with her Haslam advisor, this student achieved a half million dollars in annual savings by assembling teams from plants in the United States and Mexico to map out shipping processes. By engaging in joint problem solving, the teams created a plan to optimize cargo trailer space and ship filters and reconditioned engines together.
The student and her team reduced days in transit and implemented satellite tracking of loads. The team identified 12 spin-off projects to implement, and the student presented her project to the company’s senior leadership and in all business units.