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Operations and Supply Management Students Collaborate with Haworth, Spectrum Health, and Gentex

During the Spring 2017 semester, Dr. Lisa Eshbach’s Lean Culture and Skills Development students worked with three Ferris State University partners on their final course project: Haworth Corporation/Big Rapids Steel Plant, Spectrum Health of Big Rapids, and Gentex Corporation of Zeeland.

The project’s objective was to analyze a process, make improvement recommendations, based on lean principles and Training Within Industry (TWI) guidelines learned in class and, if possible, implement the recommendations. These concepts, when applied consistently, assist with improving daily work processes thereby, positively enhancing an organization’s culture, innovation, profitability, leading ultimately to process excellence.

The first step of the final project was a field trip to each of the partner’s facilities. The students, who worked with Haworth, visited their facility to understand the existing flow for obtaining parts from fabrication to the paint area. The students, who worked with Spectrum, focused on the check–in process flow for the patient in the Radiology department. The students, who worked with Gentex, focused on making improvements in the current warehouse area. The three separate teams made follow-up visits throughout the semester to each respective facility. They were then able to develop a proposal to increase process efficiency thereby showing continuous improvement for various activities within the process. The three teams presented their findings and recommendations to the community partners during finals week in May.

Eshbach viewed the collaboration and partnership opportunities as a win-win. “The various projects allowed the students to gain insight about challenges that organizations encounter on a daily basis to deliver high quality products and services to their respective customers. It also provided the community partners with some good ideas/suggestions on what to implement with respect to efficiently improving the daily work process in the aforementioned areas.” These projects provide an opportunity to not only apply theory to practice in real life setting, but also make valuable professional connections with community organizations. One of the students, that worked on the Spectrum Health project, secured an internship for the summer 2017 semester.

Special thanks to Dana Hall, Adam Tye, Lucas Hansen and Dennis Huver of Haworth Corporation as well as Amanda Knuth and Steve Meteer of Spectrum Health and Michael Tate of Gentex for their time, providing access and process information for students’ to use in their projects. Haworth has worked with Professor Eshbach’s classes for five semesters on lean class projects. This was the Spectrum Health’s second semester and Gentex Corporation’s first semester working with her students on lean class projects