Thursday, August 4, 2011

New month, new topic

This will be short since the work load has only been ramping up lately.  The end of our summer term is just over two weeks away and it promises to be a marathon finish.  Group projects, a group paper, individual projects, problem sets and a final exam.  After that we've got two weeks to spend as we please and it's going to be WONDERFUL!

Now a little about a feature of our industry partnerships - Plant Tours!

In the summer of the first year, LGO students go on plant tours.  These initial ones are usually local (in-state) and the class of 2013 has kept it up.  So far I visited National Grid, New Balance, and Raytheon.  Some of my classmates visited Amgen with the CLGOs while they were here.  We have one tour left for the summer with Genzyme. All the facilities were wonderful to host us and show how everyday operations occur.

Here are a couple of my takeaways from these plant visits...

One thing that surprised me was all the inventory that National Grid had to manage.  When I originally thought of the company, I pictured routing electricity and telling it where to go, but you forget all of the equipment that is used in doing that.  Lots of transformers, meters to read what power is used and lots and lots of cable to fix/splice/form.  One of the facilities we went to with them was a training center where we were reminded of the fact that not only do they have meters at the buildings of their customers, but these meters are of many different ages, manufactures and types, and they still need to service each one.

At New Balance it was cool to see a product made so completely in one place.  We saw everything from the bolts of fabric stage to fusing the shoe to the sole in a final assembly operation.  All of the machines were closer together than I expected.  Some were automated, but many were the equivalent still of a person and a robust sewing machine.  New Balance has existed now for over 100 years, but the current owners took over in the 1970s.  The employees seemed very happy with the owners and I have to say that their factory, set up in a carefully renovated mill building from 1909 was very nice.

Ok, the architect is talking here...they kept the original hardwood floors and left much of the exterior brick wall exposed on the inside.  Also, old mill buildings have HUGE windows so there was plenty of natural light. I enjoyed the building in addition to the tour and presentation they gave us.

Raytheon...the main thing I can say was that the scale of everything surpassed what I had imagined - building size, product size, testing area, number of employees, price tags - it was all larger than life to me.  It was also interesting to learn a little about how they had implemented lean processes and systems for products that are made in relatively small batches.  I worked for a completely different industry, but we also had issues of low demand and small batch sizes.

Now...back to work!  I did finally order a camera, so once I have that in hand and things get less busy, I'll be sure to get back to posting more frequently complete with pictures.  Thanks for reading!

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