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Monday, September 26, 2011 - Professor engineers lean project through Pawley fellowship
The Crittenton Hospital Medical Center is running a little more efficiently now, thanks to a lean project implemented this summer by Bob Van Til, Ph.D. and professor of engineering in Oakland University's Department of Industrial Systems and Engineering. 

Dr. Van Til is one of four OU professors awarded a Pawley Institute 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.

Utilizing this funding, Dr. Van Til developed a summer project aimed at making Crittenton’s storage system more efficient with a lean culture in mind. 

The goal was to design a new lean storage facility located in the hospital to replace the existing warehouse, located in Downtown Rochester and used for storage, shipping and receiving. Dr. 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 project employed the use of lean principles, such as inventory reduction and efficient product flow. Kimberly Romstad, ISE major at OU, worked on the project through a summer internship position funded by the fellowship. She worked 20 hours a week with team of professionals from Crittenton, along with Dr. Van Til and Sankar Sengupta, Ph.D. and associate professor of ISE. 

Romastad's experience included weeks of on-site work at Crittenton’s existing warehose and 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 more than $580,000 in estimated savings for the first year and almost $78,000 anticipated 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.”

For more information, visit oakland.edu/lean. For more information on OU’s Industrial and Systems Engineering program, please visit oakland.edu/ise.