Manufacturing / Lean Optimization

Many LGO partner companies manufacture things – from pharmaceuticals to heavy machinery. LGO students who chose to complete their MBA internships in manufacturing facilities find a number of interesting opportunities. LGO students integrate cutting edge technologies in the manufacturing sector, bringing robotics and automation into production lines. They also work on projects to minimize health risks for employees in facilities or to optimize a production line for maximum productivity.

Improving the Weld Inspection Process

Luke Boote (LGO ’17)

Company: Caterpillar
Location: Peoria, IL

Problem: As Caterpillar’s largest tractors move towards lighter weight and higher performance, current inspection methods can no longer measure welds for the desired quality. A previous LGO intern identified phased-array ultrasonic testing (UT) as the best nondestructive testing method. But within Caterpillar, the teams were not familiar with UT, and the cost for adopting the method were perceived as too high.

LGO manufacturing MBA internship
Luke used his engineering and MBA knowledge during his internship working on weld processes at Caterpillar.

Approach: Luke studied how weld inspections were done and identified technical and organizational reasons why UT could not be adopted. He organized a change management and training program and a UT technology pilot to illustrate its benefits. This helped reduce anxiety about changing the inspection process.

Impact: To begin, Luke confirmed his pilot array testing data quality. Then he tried to improve the speed and safety of UT inspections. As part of this effort, he led a remote customer site inspection of off-highway truck frames. He integrated UT technology into a factor. Using this experience as a test case, he provided a framework for Caterpillar to further develop this approach. Caterpillar is looking to build on the positive changes in culture Luke fostered. Moving forward, the company plans to use Luke’s approach in implementing UT inspection across different Caterpillar products and facilities.

Improving Complex Varietal Manufacturing Lines

Julius Myers (LGO ’17)

Company: Bell Helicopter
Location: Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

Problem: Bell Helicopter manufactures and assembles an immense variety of parts across its multiple aircraft. The company maintains its ability to build and service all legacy parts, and as a result there is a great deal of variety found in its manufacturing processes. Julius’ project drew upon both his MBA and his manufacturing toolkit. His goal was to help Bell respond to fluctuating demand while minimizing costs by introducing a postponement strategy. He started with raw material inputs.

LGO MBA internship manufacturing
Julius developed a way for Bell to use steel bars more efficiently in their unique manufacturing process.

Approach: Julius analyzed how raw materials were currently used and found little overlap of materials in different parts. Because of this, the company experienced excess inventory and long lead times. To address this gap, Julius reviewed a broad sample size of steel bar stock used as raw material. He also reviewed the technical specifications for the selected group of parts made from these materials. To help the production line continue while he simplified the supply chain, he proposed reducing the total number of unique bar diameters while still satisfying all material demands.

Impact: The methodology Julius created led to a significant reduction in unique materials and inventory, increased stock reliability, and improved purchasing power with suppliers. Looking ahead, Bell also sees opportunities to apply this methodology across other material types.

Creating a Manufacturing Equipment Platform

Kevin Peng (LGO ’17)

Company: Amgen3
Location: Cambridge, MA

Problem: Amgen would like to identify a continuous manufacturing (CM) platform for producing certain small molecule drugs. Kevin’s research developed an equipment selection strategy. His project aimed at providing new and insightful information to improve decision-making when purchasing new equipment assets. He also saw an opportunity to significantly reduce the time required to select tools.

LGO MBA manufacturing internship Amgen
Kevin developed a software tool that helps Amgen choose the right equipment for each manufacturing process.

Approach: Kevin proposed a computer-assisted selection tool that uses sets of design equations and generalized process inputs as criteria. The tool matches the manufacturing process and chemistry requirements for a given drug to the best equipment. During his internship Kevin developed this software tool in connection with simulators and other tools already in use in the industry.

Impact: Kevin used his tool in a case study where Amgen needed to find equipment for an experimental continuous chemical drug synthesis. The tool successfully identified tools that were flexible enough to be used for multiple synthesis processes. What’s more, in the future the industry as a whole could use the tool to support continuous manufacturing platforms.