Experiential course projects

  • Mophie project team

    Mophie project team

  • WMU's Eliason 2013 project team.
  • WMU ISM students at at Mann-Hummel.

    Storage and flow project at Mann-Hummel

The ISM program requires that all students take an experiential course. After mastering process management concepts and techniques (e.g., single minute exchange of dies, value stream mapping, value engineering, etc.), students gain experience by applying these concepts and techniques to an on-site industry process. Student teams create solutions for projects formulated by Dr. Sime Curkovic, professor of management, and industry partners, such as Stryker, Whirlpool, Kellogg, Eaton, Bronson Hospital and Mercedes Benz Technology and then apply the solution to improve a company’s operations.

The collaboration with industry partners provides every ISM student with the unique opportunity to apply their in-class learning to the goals of influential and successful corporations, giving the students a professional work experience.

For more information on this course or to participate in these student projects, contact Dr. Sime Curkovic.

Eliason template supply project

Eliason Corporation, founded in 1952, is the originator and only manufacturer of Easy Swing® double action impact traffic doors.  Eliason has been implementing lean techniques and 5s lean manufacturing techniques to make their workspace more efficient. One area they have had trouble with was understanding how many and what kind of templates for manufacturing they use.  Eliason tasked a WMU group with implementing a system to identify, organize, and allow for reduction and expansion of the template supply.

The WMU group, consisting of Marc Thompson, Brittany Neudeck, Lauren Booth, Kevin Zarate, and Tumadhir Alzunaydi (Tami), worked closely with managers of the company to implement a template management system.  The WMU group began by getting out on the shop floor to understand how the production facility worked, what would be considered a template and how many there would be throughout the building.  After some months, the WMU team was able to track down all templates being used throughout the facility and built a system that would allow Eliason Management to add new templates as well as remove old, unused templates, all while keeping track of where these templates are used.  Also added to this system was a tool for quarterly audits and yearly assessments of the efficiency this system provides to the company.

For moving forward, the WMU team suggested the best way to keep this system implemented is to ensure all templates remain accounted for, and to audit these templates four times a year.  The team also suggested conveying this importance to the employees who use the templates, demonstrating value in the form of increased efficiency.

Warehousing project

Mann-Hummel is a major global leader in filtration and supplier of automotive air and fluid management systems and components. With exponential growth of late, the company has accumulated an overflow of material, obsolete equipment and customer tooling at their Three Rivers, MI warehouse and their MidLink facility. To compensate for their growth, Mann-Hummel has recently acquired a new warehouse space that is located directly next to their Portage, MI building. This new warehouse will lead the company towards a lean manufacturing future in terms of warehouse flow, inventory management, and strategic logistics. Our goal was to propose inventory management solutions to implement in their new facility. Our group looked at various ways to improve the way they manage and store their equipment and parts. We looked at simple low cost solutions in comparison to big expensive solutions to show there are many different ways to handle this problem. Through our solutions of active racks, using excel, effective signs, and warehouse layout we proposed a solution to solve particular problems that can plague any warehouse. Our goal is to show that there needs to be more than one solution to solve the problem of using, obtaining and storing the parts they need on a daily basis or the parts that need to be stored because of a contractual obligation.

Eliason process improvement project

Photo of Eliason project team

A group of students from Western Michigan University’s Integrated Supply Management program recently worked on a process improvement project with Eliason Corporation, a leading manufacturer of double action swing doors in Portage, Michigan. Guided by Tim St. Onge, vice president of operations, the team was given the task of combining the company’s heavy weight door and light weight door assembly stations and making a comprehensive database of the tools and fasteners used in the assembly process.

The goal of the project was to make a more ergonomically sound assembly station design, eliminate waste and reduce bottlenecks in the assembly process wherever possible. The group, which consisted of students Chun Kit Low, Vytenis Karaitis, Sim Yee Tan and Waleed Jari, also worked with members of Western Michigan University's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences to create process improvements and ergonomics surveys which will be used throughout the company. The group found several ways to save the company money from switching suppliers to reducing fixed costs and reusing available company resources to drive down implementation costs.

Mann-Hummel storage and flow project

Mann-Hummel USA has experienced huge growth in the past years. Their Portage, Michigan, plant had limited space for minimal work-in-process and material within the facility. To manage the recent growth at the company, a WMU team was tasked with the goal of reorganizing the storage and flow of work-in-process from the Midlink facility to the Portage plant.

ISM students Jeremy Messing, Dennis Mauwa, Frank Jiovani, Scott Dixon and Thomas Bauman, led by Dr. Sime Curkovic, collaborated with Mann-Hummel to resolve the space issue. Working with supplier inventory handler, Brad Roberts, and packaging specialist, Eric Boulter, the Bronco supply managers were tasked with reorganizing the storage and flow of work-in-process from the warehouse to the plant. The team was asked to improve space efficiency and create a distinct layout to increase the ease of finding and storing work-in-process. The team was also in charge of creating a strategy to clearly mark all cells of work-in-process so the Mann-Hummel team can easily identify and organize at maximum capacity.

Whirlpool electronic cost management innovation

Whirlpool Corporation has recently implemented Co-eXprise, an electronic cost management solution, to process requests for quotations, act as a repository for historical price information and provide powerful analytic capability to drive information-based decisions. The implementation has experienced problems relating to system adoption from internal users, buyers and engineers, and external users such as suppliers.

Integrated Supply Management students, Lance Washburn, Marc Sommerville, Michael Meeth, Michael Woodruff and Travis Olszewsi, led by Dr. Sime Curkovic, partnered with Whirlpool and Co-eXprise to analyze the current state of the system and provide recommendations to improve the adoption and reduce the complexity of the system. Students were trained in the system and processed sourcing events, learned Whirlpool’s innovation processes and conducted innovation sessions to generate ideas to improve the solution. The group’s recommendations were presented to several directors and senior managers within Whirlpool’s global strategic sourcing organization.

Eliason warehouse process improvement project

A group of Integrated Supply Management undergraduate students teamed with top officials from Eliason Corporation, a leading manufacturer of commercial double action traffic doors located in Portage, Michigan, to diagram and establish locations for all items in the warehouse and recommend storage solutions that maximize space usage.

The group recommended solutions for Eliason’s current kanban system, receiving process and warehouse layout. The kanban system is a scheduling system that helps determine what product to produce, when to produce the product and how much to produce. The kanban system solution would only be used on products that would benefit most from the system. The group also recommended that the manufacturer use inventory count sheets and that mid-month counts be implemented to confirm inventory.

The group made the biggest changes to the warehouse by recommending a reorganized layout throughout the warehouse and adding appropriate shelving. The group also recommended creating an overhead labeling system of each part. The solutions for the warehouse will free up eighty percent of the unused space and be user friendly for all employees, even when the warehouse manager is unavailable. The Eliason managers agreed that by implementing these solutions Eliason will save time, space and money.

Mophie project

Seniors Jim LaPash, Josh Mortensen, Virginia Bushnell, Greg Atkinson and John Duemling teamed up with ISM Professor Dr. Sime Curkovic and Mophie, a leader in mobile charging solutions, to compare transportation charges between two third-party logistics providers (3PL). Mophie has rapidly grown since opening in 2005, resulting in the need to pair up with a new 3PL in the Netherlands. Due to the growing amount of European orders, Mophie realized that its current 3PL in Hong Kong was unable to keep up with the orders. Mophie saw the opportunity to save money on transportation charges by using a new firm to fulfill European orders.

The WMU students were provided with stock out data from July, August and September 2012 from the new 3PL partner and a list of European customers. The students were asked to filter the raw data to show only the relevant data for the European customers and apply the transportation cost to each order with both 3PL costing methods. Students found that Mophie was able to save $3,842.56 during the three months by switching firms.

Thanks to Mophie, the WMU students were able to gain real-world work experience in the supply chain and gain a better understanding of what it takes to fulfill a career in supply chain management.