Spring 2023 Projects
Eaton is a power management company that produces electronic breakers for worldwide clients. Their warehouse in Beaver, PA contains over $26,000,000 of inventory and storage was overcrowded, unorganized, and lacked discipline. This caused slow and inaccurate “kits” to be sent to production lines, which slowed production as a whole. Eaton contracted our group out to solve this issue. Through Eaton’s and our own collected data, we determined a set of root causes through a fishbone analysis. After this, baseline rates for picking inventory and inventory accuracy were calculated. We then used principles of industrial engineering to develop a set of recommended solutions to target these root causes which will be soon adopted by Eaton’s production plant. These solutions included a full new layout with permanent locations for over 1,400 different parts, a new area designed specifically for creating kits, and new carts designed with ergonomics in mind for the employees who pick the inventory. This permanent layout used our group’s ABC analysis as well as principles of material handling equipment to create an intuitive, easy to learn storage solution. With new roles came a new process for picking, so our group then created a new process flow map. With these new recommendations, we were able to cut wasted movement down by at least 60%, resulting in a greater pick rate. With the new layout and a proposed control plan, the inventory accuracy would increase by over 40%, resulting in accurate kits arriving at the production lines. After creating our deliverables, we conducted a cost analysis for the project and determined a return of investment of 2.6 times the investment after five years.
Eaton corporation is power management company located in Beaver, PA. Currently, their NRX production line, a line producing two types of low voltage circuit breakers, is inefficient, utilizes poor material management, has unnecessary operator travel, and has a low production output. Our team worked closely with Eaton’s operations team to identify the causes of these inefficiencies and problems.
The current line is configured in a U-shape with operators positioned on the outside. By first moving them to the inside of the line, workers will be able to flex and switch to different stations efficiently. The breaker accessories and kitting areas can be moved closer to the main line to reduce the amount of time spent walking by operators. Additionally, machinery that is favored by operators can be moved into the main production line to reduce breaker travel time originally done via rolled carts. There is one main bottleneck station early in the process that leads to high work in process between stations. The Senior Design Team also concluded that it would be in the best decision to purchase additional machinery at this test station to increase throughput to other stations on the line. The additional machinery would add an additional operator to operate the line, but this would produce a return on investment of only 8 months due to the profit from increased production of circuit breakers and reduced travel time.
FedEx Ground is currently experiencing long lead times for spare parts that has led to increased network risk, downtime, and lost savings as the procurement team does not have the necessary time to secure the best prices. The current process for acquiring the spare parts goes through five different departmental teams before ordering can begin. If anything is missing from the list along the way, it is sent back to the supplier and the entire process starts over. This can take several weeks to receive the completed list and takes away the procurement teams' time searching the market for the best prices, forcing them to purchase all the parts from the integrator. Our approach to the problem was to focus on what can be fixed on the FedEx side of the process, as we have no control over the integrators or suppliers' actions. Our suggestion is to introduce a two-list process that will allow the procurement time to have more time to look for more parts and reduce the number of parts they must purchase from the integrator. Using a statistical analysis, a classification model, and a simulation model, we can model the current process and compare it to our proposed solution using cost savings and max lead time as our metrics. Using these metrics, we were able to determine an increase in cost savings of $1049.95 per list and a decrease in max lead time of 2.67 weeks by implementing our prosed solution. Our final recommendations are to implement this two-list process as the standard workflow and utilize the classification model to predict future lead times for both short and long lead time parts.
FedEx Ground is the low-cost ground shipping service that prides itself on being a faster alternative to UPS Ground with shipping times within the United States. With facilities nationwide, FedEx Ground relies on conveyor systems to handle and sort packages in each facility. FedEx Ground has unplanned downtime events with their sorting facilities that delay order fulfillment times and cost the company millions of dollars. Additionally, FedEx Ground has recognized that their current method of tracking such issues is insufficient. To address these issues, the team successfully created two new metrics for the company to implement immediately into their analysis. The new metrics allow for a clear comparison across different facility sizes, and improve the understanding of a downtime event. Additionally, the team recommends the implementation of Domo, a reporting software to improve communications and analysis of events. Finally, the team found that equipment damage and failure was responsible for 34% of all downtime events experienced. Therefore, the team recommends the Waites monitoring system hardware in order to monitor the conveyor systems and ensure the conveyors are maintained to prevent failure or damage during a sort. The hardware has the capability to measure temperatures and vibrations experienced by the equipment to alert workers if the equipment undergoes any abnormal conditions that may cause damage and failure to the system. With proper implementation of the hardware, the company has the potential to see approximately $2 million of cost savings per year.
FedEx Supply Chain is a third-party logistics provider that will soon be taking over the Consumer Cellular warehouse where phones are activated with SIM cards, connected to the network, and bundled with information sheets. Orders to retail distributors are large with short fulfillment windows and as a result, they currently operate a “push” system in which work is completed before receiving orders. This leads to a large build-up of finished inventory. Further, the steps to activate and bundle the phones are not as efficient as they could be. To achieve FedEx Supply Chain’s goals of less labor costs and lower finished inventory levels, the team’s work is split into two segments: work process improvements and scheduling policy optimization. For improving work processes, the time-motion study methods of Therbligs and MOST were conducted on a video received from the client. These analyses resulted in the generation of six time-saving recommendations. All together, these recommendations improve the productivity rate of phone activation and bundling by 7.5% to 14.4% resulting in an estimated savings of about $97k over the next 3 years. Standard Operating Procedures were made to communicate these recommendations. For scheduling policy optimization, demand was simulated and various policies tested. These policies decide how much to produce in a day, which phones to produce, and which orders to satisfy. They include parameters such as number of workers, number of workstations, limits to overtime, and the number of cross-trained workers. In total, over 150k years of fulfilling orders were simulated. The greatest impact found was that having flexible cross-trained workers is critical to satisfying orders on-time with low total labor costs. Recommendations were also made about other parameters such as the amount of buffer needed and which phones can be prepared before receiving orders for them. Overall, our work saves on labor costs and will minimize finished inventory levels.
The goal of this project was to develop an optimal and feasible layout for General Electric’s new warehouse in Charleroi, PA. The team’s first step in the project was to visit the current warehouse site to better conceptualize and understand the inventory processes that take place throughout the warehouse.
Currently, there is a high volume of material coming into the current inventory warehouse, space is not optimized to handle increasing demand, and the current warehouse is not optimized for a first-in-first-out (FIFO) system. These issues lead to productivity issues, kitting errors, and difficulty supporting increasing demand.
Before alternative layouts could be developed, it was necessary to evaluate overstock, material volume, department locations and relationships, and the current warehouse capacity level.
Once these facets of the project were analyzed, alternative layouts for a new and larger warehouse were developed. These layouts include adequate shelving to support increasing demand. They also take into account the relationships between departments (such as the receiving bay and floor storage area).
The two alternative layouts were evaluated via rectilinear distances between departments and layout efficiency ratings. Ultimately, it was determined that Alternative 2 would best serve the needs of GE.
In addition to the development of a warehouse layout, visual management and material handling solutions were identified. Some of these solutions include a barcode-by-bay system, large overhead signs, the application of RF Scanners, and the acquisition of 1 Clark scissor lift and 4 Clark narrow aisle forklifts.
IDL is a global retail design and project management company that is part of Matthews International Corporation. It provides design, engineering, fabrication, fulfillment, and installation services to retailers and brands. Its services include retail strategy support and design, consumer and brand insight, retail re-imaging, concept shops and pop-up retail, custom store fixtures, permanent and temporary displays, program graphics, product launch support, and brand development and execution solutions. Our task was to help IDL improve its packaging labor source. Currently, the packing line utilizes operators to package signs without the use of automation. In peak seasons IDL currently does not have enough workers to keep up with demands and has to outsource temporary workers. This would lead to delays and efficiency due to inexperience on the line and packing process. It would also lead to more expenses for IDL. To help solve the IDL problem our team researched and reached out to vendors to see what types of automation can be used to help the manual packing line. This would lead to our biggest constraint as communicating with vendors can take days or even weeks. After we reached out and got information about the types of machines, for example, MKW collators, Technopacks shrink wraps, or Pineberry friction feeders we calculated the ROI and incremental analysis. IDL also wanted us to find the ROI for these machines and the incremental analysis was another source to help justify which machines to get. From our results of the ROI, the technopacks shrinkwrap had the best return on investment and for the incremental analysis, the MKW had the best present worth value. While IDL only wants to select one of these machines if possible we would recommend both of these to them.
IDL Worldwide is an international printing company that services the needs of large commercial brands such as Chick-Fil-A, Sheetz, and Giant Eagle. IDL currently uses large and small format printers in their operation, as well as manual die cutters and digital cutters or plotters. The problem that IDL is facing is a lack of information and analyses required to make informed decisions regarding the purchase of new printing and cutting equipment. To solve this problem, the team completed return on investment analyses for new printing and cutting equipment, facility layout analyses on the proposed printing area and new locations for a plotting machine, and constructed a simulation model, to perform a sensitivity analysis, on the new printing equipment.
Upon completion of the printer and plotter ROI analysis, it was determined that the Konica Minolta (KM) printer yielded the highest return on investment with an IRR of 57% and the Elitron plotter yielded an IRR of 42%. The group then constructed new layouts with the KM printer, increasing adjacency ratings from 45% to 78%. New plotter locations were also analyzed, and travel distance was ultimately reduced by 28%. Finally, upon completing the sensitivity analysis on the KM printer using Simio modeling software, it was determined that, even with a 50% increase in demand, the KM printer would only reach a utilization rate of 44%.
Our final recommendations to IDL included purchasing the Konica Minolta printer and Elitron plotter. In addition to buying these machines, IDL should adopt new layouts that increase adjacency rating and decrease travel distance. IDL will be able to meet demand and will have ample room for growth in a market that is expected to grow by 6% in the next year.
JADCO is a family-owned manufacturer of supreme quality impact and abrasion resistant steel products. Their manufacturing facility is located in Harmony, PA and was the main point of focus for this project. The current layout of the Upper Weld Shop of the Chromeweld Department was designed without prioritizing machine relationships. This created long path lengths and excessive non-value added time in the steel production process. Our project goal was to produce two alternative layouts that have a direct process and material flowpath. This in turn would minimize backtracking during production, decrease travel distance, and reduce costs.
Our two alternative layouts consisted of an optimal and feasible layout, and both were visualized using AutoCAD. The optimal layout was determined using systematic layout planning and the DMAIC approach to problem solving. The feasible layout was determined based on client feedback, and prioritized minimizing machine movement. Both layouts had high efficiency ratings as well as a substantial decrease in path lengths. Furthermore, an in-depth cost analysis of each layout was performed and presented to JADCO. Labor savings, potential increases in revenue, and simple payback periods were calculated in order to justify implementing our suggested layouts. In addition, the potential increase in production in terms of parts per day was calculated for each layout. We concluded that our suggested layouts were favorable based on the results of this analysis.
Regarding a long term implementation plan, we recommended that JADCO look to incorporate small changes (e.g. adding additional storage), and consider adjusting the layout as machines naturally need to be replaced. We also recommended that JADCO consult a construction company for better estimates of the time/cost of implementation.
MSA develops, manufactures, and supplies safety products that protect people and facility infrastructure internationally. Within recent years there has been limited visibility and incorrect categorization of MRO spending. MRO stands for maintenance, repair, and operations thus, items defined as such are not a part of the finished product but are used during the production process. Systematically at MSA, an employee purchases a product and then links said purchase to a G/L Account to categorize their purchase. Employees end up linking purchases to the wrong account if they input the incorrect number, which is a common occurrence. The result is incorrect spend data leading to difficulties in leveraging vendors, obtaining spending overviews, and budgeting. To mitigate these issues, we came up with a two-part solution plan. The first part looks to improve the spend data collection process through a vendor selection catalog system on Microsoft Teams, the platform MSA uses company-wide. The system is comprised of past purchases from MSA’s preferred vendors such as Amazon, Fastenal, and Uline. The purchases are sorted into G/L Accounts folders from three broad categories Repair & Maintenance, Supplies & Materials, and Other Functions, and put on spreadsheets. Through this method, MSA can standardize their MRO purchase process. The second part was creating a Tableau dashboard that displayed MRO spend by plant G/L Account, and overall monthly spend each with indicated budgets. We recommend that MSA use a monthly MRO budget that is five percent of their total procurement budget. The company should also continuously update the spreadsheets of purchase with new products and vendors, as well as contact managers of plants that are superseding the budgets of other plants.
UPMC Shadyside is experiencing longer than expected inpatient hospital stays that affect the profitability of the hospital, the quality of care for patients, and the number of patients that they can treat. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) calculates the geometric mean length of stay (GMLOS) for each Diagnostic-Related Group (DRG) designation. When patients overstay this CMS standard, the hospital is not only unable to bill payers but also cannot begin treating a new patient due to limited bed capacity. In 2022, 57% of patients at UPMC Shadyside stayed longer than the expected GMLOS for their specific diagnosis. Our project goal was to locate areas causing the most substantial impact to inpatient discharge delay, uncover reasons behind the process bottlenecks, give recommendations, and configure methods for continuous improvement.
In order to address this problem, the project team interviewed UPMC staff familiar with the process and analyzed historical patient data to better understand the factors which affect the length of stay. One such factor, we hypothesized, was consulting physician turnaround times.
Mainly the effect of consults on a patient's length of stay was examined. The team examined patient data for cases with and without consults and grouped the cases by DRG to eliminate case complexity as a possible confounding variable. The analysis showed a difference of almost 1.5 patient days in some DRG categories and indicated there is likely a relationship worth further investigation.
Additionally, the team developed a machine learning prediction model using data available early in a patient’s stay to better determine when a patient’s discharge should be planned. This was intended as a proof of concept to show how new techniques, including machine learning, could be applied to the healthcare industry.
Based on qualitative observations by members of the UPMC staff embedded in the process, the team made recommendations to standardize practices in laboratory/radiology orders and elevated care facility placement. By implementing our recommendations, we estimate a reduction in patients’ length of stay, an increase in the volume of patients seen, and greater overall hospital profitability.
Fall 2022 Projects
Insightin Health is a healthcare consultant company that makes data-driven recommendations to solve healthcare challenges. These recommendations are typically given to healthcare payers to deliver member value. By surveying Medicare patients from December 14, 2020, through August 17, 2022, Insightin Health identified that 6.6% of respondents indicated it was difficult to get any care, tests, or treatment that they needed, and the factors that affect patients’ access to care prior to this project were unknown. The goals of this project were to identify what combinations of factors are most influential in a patient having access to care, develop a machine learning application using these factors, and develop a list of recommendations to improve patients’ access to the treatment, testing, and care they need. To identify the most impactful factors in patients’ access to care, the student team tested several combinations of parameters in a feature selection greedy algorithm. After doing so, the team found that using forward feature selection and random forest classifier as the estimator resulted in the best measures of accuracy, precision, and recall. Twenty-four features selected through this method were included in a final supervised machine learning model that reached 93.9% accuracy, 90.0% precision, and 98.6% recall. After identifying the impactful features, the team created a document listing data-driven and research-based recommendations for improving patients’ access to care. The list includes the features found to be significantly impactful to a patient having trouble receiving the care they need, what can be done to reduce the impact of these metrics, and any applicable resources used to develop the solutions. The document of recommendations and machine learning model have been shared with Insightin Health to assist their team in addressing the factors that impact Medicare patients’ access to care.
Paragon Foods is a rapidly growing company that prepares fresh produce for restaurants, universities, and hospitals. At Paragon Foods in the JustCut operations, the Main Line for production produces made-to-order precut and prepackaged vegetables. The Main Line can produce a wide variety of final products; however, the current process is chaotic due to line flexibility, product variability and lack of staffing. The main goals of this project were to establish baseline data, create a simulation of the process in SIMIO, and combine these two resources in order to analyze the process and optimize worker allocation on the Main Line. Controlled time studies were conducted to obtain the appropriate data needed to construct an accurate simulation. In order to manage product variability, group technology was utilized to develop three major part families that account for eighty-five percent of the total production volume. Simulations were built to model each of the part families for them to be analyzed. Using the simulation, a sensitivity analysis was performed to see how the models would react to variable changes. Looking at the results of the experiments, it was determined that certain variables had much larger impacts on the system when they were adjusted in the simulation. Therefore, it was recommended that these variables be increased or decreased appropriately. It was also recommended that scheduling is done so that vegetables that are in the same part family go through the system in sequence with one another.
JADCO Manufacturing, a steel fabrication company located in Harmony, PA, currently has issues reporting defects throughout their entire production process. An older company that has experienced recent significant growth, JADCO has outgrown their legacy defect reporting system and asked our team to help digitize the process. Our team worked closely with JADCO’s senior management and quality assurance representatives to not only achieve this goal, but also identify root causes for recurring issues. Our approach consisted of designing multiple digital form design options, performing a cost analysis on jobs that had a defect, creating a tableau dashboard to visualize and monitor the defects, and generating recommendations based on our root cause analysis.
Based on our data analysis and root cause analysis, we recommend that JADCO focuses their effort on reducing defects related to drawing/blueprint errors and communication failures, because these issues contribute disproportionately to the costs incurred by defects. They can reduce these defects by implementing our digital defect reporting system and Communicating Changes SOP, which details who needs to be notified when a specific issue occurs. If JADCO implements our recommendations, they can expect to see a reduction in costs due to defects, better visibility of defects in real-time, and improved employee satisfaction.
JADCO Manufacturing focuses on manufacturing quality impact and abrasion resistant steel products. In recent JADCO history, a lack of comprehensive safety documents and procedures has led to ambiguity among workers in terms of job performance and safety measures. The goals of the project include creating a dynamic dashboard in excel for safety and processes as well as the redesign of a material handling equipment rack. These will first be used in the welding department at JADCO. Within the created dashboard, fields such as which work area within the welding department, what the work task is, the severity and probability scores, and what PPE is required can all be changed depending on the job. Once hazard considerations and severity and probability scores are selected, a hazard level will show with a connected color. In order to eliminate safety hazards from the process, the redesigned rack no longer requires operators to perform lifts that present safety risks. As well, the dashboard has a field to select what type of material handling equipment is needed and the weight of the part to tell the operator what spot on the rack the necessary piece of equipment is located. This as well eliminates safety risks like choosing the wrong clamp out of the process by designing it into the dashboard. In the short term, the dashboard will be used in the welding department but in the long term, can be used in the entire JADCO plant. Another long term recommendation is to change from paper copies to tablets so the operators can fill out the dashboard themselves rather than the current way of having the safety manager do all forms. In conclusion, the designed dashboard increases worker understanding of safety in normal everyday tasks and associated risks with welding, grinding, etc.; redesigning the rack allowed for the connection between the dashboard and the rack to reduce misuse of equipment; and the dashboard proves the need for software such as this in manufacturing applications.
Exacerbated by pandemic constraints, MSA faces challenges ensuring on-time and consistent delivery from their suppliers. While MSA currently has robust services for monitoring and mitigating the risk of their larger suppliers, they do not have methods for monitoring and reporting risk for their smaller suppliers. The Pitt Senior Design Team was tasked with creating a dashboard to dynamically monitor MSA’s smaller suppliers. MSA desired a dashboard that would incorporate their current system, Dunn & Bradstreet (DnB), as well as various other risk scores. The goal was to build an intuitive and accessible dashboard that can be frequently updated to reflect a supplier’s current status.
To effectively achieve this dashboard, the Pitt Senior Design Team needed to first establish what types of risk were most relevant to be highlighted by the dashboard. Through a series of stakeholder interviews and surveys, five critical risks were identified. Those five risks were product importance, number of parts supplied, total spend, geopolitical, and weather. Supplier specific data such as product importance, number of parts supplied, and total spend were all provided to the Pitt team by MSA directly. The other metrics, which are region specific, were found using trusted online databases.
The final deliverable presented to the MSA is a web-based Dashboard created using Tableau. The Dashboard displays normalized and weighted risk scores for each supplier that MSA is currently using. The Dashboard has two main areas for further analysis. The first is a list of each supplier and their overall risk score with the ability to find the location of each supplier on the map as well as display a graphic highlighting how they performed in each risk category. The second is a map highlighting each supplier location with a weather risk panel, allowing the team to determine which suppliers are most at risk for specific weather disasters.
Through the use of this tool, we believe the MSA will be able to significantly streamline their supplier tracking operations. The Dashboard effectively fills the visibility gaps between large and small suppliers, creating a one-stop-shop for the MSA team to perform supplier-level risk mitigation.
IDL Worldwide is a leading global brand experience agency that defines, creates, produces and transforms brand experiences. IDL works as a job shop that can design, print, cut, and finish graphics that allow companies to advertise their products as needed. IDL has recognized that its demand is expected to grow in the next few years and believes that they will not be able to hire the labor necessary to meet these rising demands. In response, they are considering two different opportunities to investigate automation options to increase their fulfillment capacity without the need to hire new labor. The Indigo Digital Offset printer has been identified as one possibility to replace, as the current printer is underutilized due to its limited ability to only print on a small selection of materials. The second area of opportunity is a replacement or addition to the digital plotter tables for product finishing and cutting, as the current plotter tables cut at a much slower rate than manual cutting methods. In order to determine if IDL should invest in new technologies for these two areas, our team first had to gather information on the current usage of the Indigo Printer and Plotter using datasets provided by IDL. For the indigo, we considered available technologies that could increase the number of orders that could be printed from a digital offset printer method, and for the plotter we searched for faster plotter tables that could automatically load, process, and unload sheets. After finding some options and comparing them to the current means of production, it was concluded that the Canon imagePRESS V1370 would be the most fiscally viable option to replace the indigo, saving 57 labor hours per week and decreasing IDL’s need to outsource materials, and the Elitron TAV-R was identified as the best addition to the plotter capacity by adding 130 automated hours to the finishing department. With a 7-year payback period and 10% MARR, the Canon impagepress1370 net present value comes to $452,175 and the Elitron TAV-R comes to $149,348. Combined, these two recommendations come to a total present value of $533,341.
LMI, or Logistics Management Institute, is a large government consulting agency headquartered in Tysons, Virgina. They are dedicated to powering a high functioning government with their complex digital and analytical solutions, logistics, and management consultancy services. One of the key business units of the organization is the Enterprise Technology Service Management team. They are responsible for the procurement and distribution of laptops and other technology throughout the organization. An issue they have recently identified as a target is the lack of laptop supply and inability to keep up with the frequency of new hires, upgrades, and other needs for laptop fulfillment within the company. Based on the information provided there were three main factors contributing to this; variable and low visibility of lead times from suppliers, interdepartmental communication, and externally, the inconsistency of the global supply chain. We collected and cleaned hiring, termination, invoice, and lead time datasets from the client and client’s supplier which allowed us to conduct a statistical analysis on the flow of laptops throughout the internal supply chain of the LMI. A linear and centered-moving-average based regression was run on each month for hiring and terminations datasets. This determined that there were monthly effects in January and September for hiring, and April for terminations. From these findings, we applied the regression equations to a model that optimized ordering time, quantity, and inventory levels. The model also accounted for other variables presented by user input which included lead time, date, inventory, hiring/acquisition buffer, supplier distribution, and a safety stock buffer. It then took those inputs and returned two order schedules based on long lead times exceeding 4 weeks and normalized lead times for the proceeding three months. This model was developed as an Excel workbook using macros and VBA (Visual Basic) code. Its main purpose is to increase visibility on laptop demand and create an optimized ordering schedule for LMI to use as a guide for their laptop procurement method and was implemented to do so. In conclusion, we were able to save LMI 25% on ordering costs, deliver a functional excel tool with elements of flexibility and simplicity, and decrease laptop supply stockouts. We recommended that the client maintain a schedule of evaluating ordering on the first of the month and keeping 2-3 weeks of inventory on hand to account for any extreme unexpected cases.
Stoelzle Glass is having issues with their material delivery process. From the inaccurate quantity of movements per shift to the communication and documentation process of material moves, it affects the picking and delivery times of pallets. This causes confusion and wasted time spent working on non-value added activities. For our approach, we decided to focus on three simple aspects that would have the biggest impact. To be able to implement easy solutions that would be flexible to change and fully supported by sound analysis. In regards to the main findings, we found that there is a lack of visibility when it comes to the flow of material. This refers to the delayed key in of material moves into Oracle that creates uncertainty in how much and when material is needed. This results in the disorganization of inventory and excessive amount of packaging materials on the production floor. Consequently, this eventually leads to inefficiencies in transportation and inventory management, negatively affecting overall material flow in the facility. For our recommendations, we believe in implementing a new inventory warehouse, a Kanban system, and 5S methodology to solve these issues.
This semester we worked closely with the data and quality team at Kennametal. Kennametal is a manufacturing company that creates carbide machining tools. They have recently implemented "smart factory" grinding machines that collect an abundance of data that can be overwhelming and impossible to draw conclusions from. A system is needed to allow Kennametal to simplify and explore their historical data, draw conclusions regarding capability, and understand patterns that can be used to improve future performance. To address this problem, we created a suite of tools that gives the user a complete picture of their process.
Functions of System:
- Easy preprocessing functions to correct the input data from machines immediately
- Current state analysis displays
- Comparative visuals to help identify processes of interest
- Ability to zoom in to the machine, part id, order, or piece level
- Analysis at the part-by-part level to give insight into sources of variability
This tool will be used by Kennametal to better understand their grinding processes and act as a basis for future root cause analysis projects. Using our system, we found one major source of variability and were able to explain the mature of the source. In grinding operations, tool wear occurs rapidly and must be compensated for. Currently, the grinding machines use two compensation cycles that act independently of each other but do not account for how the process changes when their resets occur simultaneously. We found that if possibility of simultaneous resets is accounted for, Kennametal can increase capability of their highest volume processes by up to 96%. In the few cases we explored, we found opportunities for major improvement in Kennametal’s manufacturing process using this system. We recommend Kennametal applies this system to their entire manufacturing process to find and explain other sources of variation in their processes.
This semester our group worked with Penn United Technologies Inc., an employee owned high precision metal manufacturing company. We worked specifically with their carbide manufacturing division in the areas where they package and reclaim their graded material. Our problem statement is as follows: To redesign and refine material handling processes in the powder department to improve safety and efficiency. Currently in there areas, employees are at risk for ergonomic related hazards due to lifting overexposure and unsafe lifting loads. In addition to reclaim and packaging, storage reorganization was also necessary to allow for more working floorspace.
We were able to break up the three problem areas, storage, reclaim and packaging into three separate recommendations. Within storage we recommend implementing a gravity flow rack and a workstation crane to decrease the storage footprint from approximately 1,500 sq ft to 225 sq ft and provide aided lifting in the storage area where there previously wasn’t any. For reclaim, we recommend moving all reclaim processes into the same area to concentrate all equipment together and provide space for the new packaging solution. We also recommend the use of automated guided vehicles to automate the process of reclaim pickup which reduces employee overexposure to heavy lifting. Lastly, we redesigned the packaging process so that material is loaded into buckets using a conveyor system which removes the necessity for any heavy lifting. Before implementation, RULA, REBA, and NIOSH scores for the lifting done in the area indicated that employees were at a very high risk of erogonomic hazard. Should Penn United move forward with our solution, little to no lifting would be required within this area.
The ability to regulate the mechanical stiffness in a large range could be crucial for soft robots to conform, grasp, and move while interacting with the environment. Stimuli-responsive materials can be used to achieve shape morphing. Liquid crystal elastomers (LCE) are heat-responsive materials with regular deformation properties when raised or reduced temperature. Polyether ether ketone (PEEK) is a semicrystalline thermoplastic with excellent mechanical and chemical resistance properties that are retained to high temperatures.
In this project, our team designs, tests, adjusts, and optimizes the “LCE cylinder with PEEK disks tethered to a string” structure. Our team successfully demonstrated that when heat is applied to the structure, it would shrink in the axial direction, and the disks inside would jam together to create a rigid cylinder. When heat is removed and cooled, the structure returns to its original versatile state. Our desired goal was to satisfy at least a 10% stiffness difference between the soft and rigid states through jamming phenomena.
Our team was able to design a series of 12 experiments. We mainly explored two independent factors, the number of disks and the level of excessive compression, and found the relationship between these factors and stiffness difference. Through our experiments, we are confident that when weight is applied to our structure, at least 10% stiffness change requirement is met, with stiffness differences varying from 37.93% to 185.85%. The structure with 6 PEEK disks in the LCE with a 10% excessive level of compression design has the best overall performance. More replications can be conducted to increase the stability and accuracy of the results in the future.
Our project provides a heat-responsive system that changes stiffness on command repeatedly. This opens the door for a variety of soft robotics and applications in different industries.
PNC recently acquired approximately 700 new ATMs from BBVA, and would like to ensure that the BBVA ATMs are cost effective and operate similarly to the PNC ATMs. In order to successfully integrate the new BBVA ATMs into PNC’s current ATM network, PNC has assigned the team the task of comparing both ATMs in terms of maximum holding amount, service frequency, market, demand distributions, and residual percentage distributions, as well as performing a cost analysis between BBVA’s ATMs and PNC’s ATMs.
To begin the comparisons, the team clustered the BBVA and PNC data together according to the K-means cluster method in R. From the cluster analysis, it was determined that 83% of all ATMs fell into three significant clusters: 1, 2 and 6. Through the cost analysis, the team was able to conclude that the BBVA ATMs have less total cost than the PNC ATMs, which is attributed to lower demand. Due to this, BBVA has a more aggressive approach to cash handling and relies more on Emergency Cash Orders compared to PNC. In turn, PNC’s conservative management strategy allows them to maintain less Out-of-Cash instances than BBVA but with higher total costs.
Using this knowledge and additional insight, the team suggests that PNC define a standardized emergency cash reorder point of $10,000.00 for cluster 1 ATMs. As for cluster 2, the team advises PNC to continue to manage the ATMs using the current management strategy and protocol and extend this management style to the recently acquired BBVA ATMs with similar performance metrics. Additionally, the team suggests increasing BBVA’s vendor delivery frequency to improve overall ATM performance. Lastly, for cluster 6, the team suggests PNC use a standard order of the maximum holding amount for each ATM while maintaining the same vendor delivery schedule.