Our new intern, Sajid Muntasir Subhani (Saj), is in his third out of a five year Industrial and Systems Master of Engineering program at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Since starting in June, he has been working closely with Mike Berry – Senior Operations Team Leader and Bill DeLany – Advanced Lean Manufacturing Manager of the production floor. He has jumped right into the manufacturing cells and made efficiency improvements on several areas of the production line.

Using a combination of the Probes Unlimited, Inc. (PUI) team’s experience with his academic applications, they have been diligent in collecting data on the production cell workflows. From this data analysis, Saj recognized a key factor in over-processing — the time study worksheets. The employees use these worksheets to help them stay on schedule by documenting the amount of time it takes to complete each step. Saj observed that while the time study worksheets have their advantages, they were very time-consuming themselves. So he has helped simplify the worksheets resulting in less time spent on non value-added processes, which has not only improved efficiency, but made it easier to more accurately track the time it takes to build each part. After developing these more streamlined work tracking tools, Saj admits that the most important part of the process improvement is for the production team to sustain the improved workflows over time.

Another project Saj has been working on is implementing 5S – which is a Japanese method for eliminating waste in the workplace. Saj noticed that there was an excessive volume of equipment in the production cells. Although we already use shadow boards, over time, especially with the addition of new cells, our equipment distribution has proven ineffective.  After revamping the shadow boards, we ran into yet another challenge. As Saj finished hanging the production boards, workers began to realize that they were too high for them to reach. Saj confessed that his 6-foot height didn’t even occur to him as he was building the new boards and hanging them up.

Fortunately, it was minor issue with a quick fix. When asked what practical learnings he has taken away about manufacturing so far, he emphasized that communication is key. He remarked that in order to do the best job, it is imperative that employees work together as a team. He said that in the beginning, asking questions and really getting a feel for the company culture was essential. From his observations he was able to make suggestions and work collaboratively with cell leaders to make sure that his ideas were realistic to their everyday work. So far, his impact with Probes Unlimited, Inc. has proven that college internships and practical work experience are key elements of the learning experience for all involved.