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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - OU professor funds Lean project at Crittenton through Pawley Institute Fellowship

Kimberly Romstad with workers from the warehouse.

Bob Van Til, professor in the Industrial Systems and Engineering department at Oakland University, has used his Pawley Institute Fellowship to fund a Lean project at Crittenton Hospital Medical Center.

Van Til was one of four OU professors awarded this fellowship, which were given in support of research that will advance knowledge and theories of Lean learning as well as to facilitate the work of university faculty to educate students about Lean principles.

Kimberly Romstad, ISE major at OU, worked on this project through a summer internship position funded by the fellowship. Van Til hopes to acquire Lean case studies from this Crittenton project, as well as other projects, to use in his ISE courses at OU to help educate his students.

The summer project was aimed at making Crittenton’s storage system more efficient with a Lean culture in mind. Crittenton had a warehouse in Downtown Rochester used for storage, shipping and receiving.

The goal was to design a new Lean storage facility located in the hospital to replace the existing warehouse.

The project employed the use of Lean principles, such as inventory reduction and efficient product flow. Romstad worked 20 hours a week with team of professionals from Crittenton and OU Professors Van Til and Sankar Sengupta. This hands-on internship gave her a practical application of Lean principles and tools.

Romastad’s hands-on experience included weeks of on-site work at Crittenton’s existing warehose and the distribution center, learning from the workers about their processes.

“This project was a great learning experience for me because I got to see what industrial and systems engineers do in the health care industry,” Romstad said. “I got to witness firsthand how to find an intelligent way to cut costs associated with everyday procedures, which, in the long run, really helps the hospital out.”

Through the fellowship, Romstad was given practical experience in her field of study. Crittenton also benefited from the project with over $580,000 in estimated savings for the first year and almost $78,000 for each following year.

“This project taught me about the opportunities available for industrial and systems engineers in health care, as well as learning a little about facilities design and supply chain management,” Romstad said. “It was a great experience; I would love to do it again. I would definitely consider working in health care after graduation.”

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