This weekend will see the arrival of over 90 international students to UT's campus in order to learn and practice the tenets of lean manufacturing.
The students, who hail from emerging global economic centers such as China, Brazil and Mexico, are to be hosted by the Lean Enterprise Summer Program. Under this initiative, they will not only attend daily seminars but will also get to see the real world implications of their lessons through work with partnering companies.
Enrique Macias De Anda, graduate in industrial engineering, is one of the originators and organizers behind this project. From a fiscal perspective, De Anda believes the benefits of Lean Enterprise are far reaching.
"Lean enterprise is the practice of creating more value for consumers while using fewer resources and to transform themselves and become more competitive," De Anda said.
According to De Anda, the competition is definitely out there.
"Participating in Lean provides terrific job exposure to these students," he said. "We are living in a globalized world whether we like it or not, which means that we are not anymore competing with our neighbors for a job, we are competing with the entire world."
The Lean Enterprise Program is a solution that promises to not only give one-day business owners and plant operators a competitive edge, it will also directly benefit buyers.
"Lean will benefit companies, consumers, students and the University," said Jim Slizewski, regional manager of the Center for Industrial Services (CIS) Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Program. "It's truly a win-win situation for all involved."
The goal of Lean manufacturing, according to Slizewski, is to help companies eliminate waste and excess inventory.
"Toyota first developed the system after WWII and it was utilized especially in the post-war clean up of Japan," he explained. "It took America longer to catch on, but the methodology has since become a highly important business practice."
The Lean Enterprise Program aims to teach students to systematically enter plants and be able to cut unnecessary expenditures.
"By eliminating the excess and ridding these plants of anything that doesn't directly translate to value for the consumer, the cost of the product will be cut and the cycle time made faster," he added.
The program is largely the brainchild of Dr. Rupy Sawhney, department head of industrial and information engineering at UT.
"The idea spawned when I was in Mexico," Sawhney said. "That is where I met Enrique, who was working at a university there. We decided we needed to do something in context to the Lean Manufacturing ideology by offering a course or something of that nature. It turned into this four week long summer departmental program from there. Our goal is to increase this to a major level."
Ninety-one students from three continents will stay on UT's campus for the month of July. During this time, they will attend daily classes and be divided into 17 different teams, each with a Lean project centered around a partnering company. Local business Monterey Mushrooms is one such participating establishment.
"Monterey Mushrooms began to embrace Lean almost four years ago as a means of providing customers quality mushroom product at the least cost," said Troy Richardson, Lean coordinator of the company. "We will enable the students a hands-on opportunity to put into practice the Lean material they will be learning about in the classroom."
Richardson further states that obtaining a background in Lean manufacturing will help these international engineering students throughout their future occupations as a means of opening their eyes and bettering their career chances.
"By engineering new or improving existing systems to reduce waste, they have a much greater opportunity to successfully bring value to their future endeavors," he said.
Sawhney has high hopes for the continuation of his vision and the positive impact it could have on the engineering department and UT at large.
"We have technical skills we're teaching that increase department visibility, which is important and even required," he said. "We're working to identify UT as a Lean manufacturing expert globally."