Why Collaborating with Local Universities Matters for Modern Day Manufacturing

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Partnerships with local universities can bring numerous benefits to today’s manufacturing world. This was recently demonstrated when Marquardt’s Director of Operations, Christian Voelk, was approached by Associate Professor Bastian Tenbergen at the State University of New York at Oswego to work with senior undergraduate students on a project.


The project involved creating a digital ANDON Sheet, a key tool in Lean manufacturing that alerts operators and managers in real-time to take corrective measures when there is a shortage of parts, equipment malfunction, or safety concerns. Something that is commonly used in the auto manufacturing process, think of it as similar to a “check engine” light in a car.


Stopping production because of part shortage, equipment malfunction, or a safety concern, is the main purpose of ANDON tracking in Lean manufacturing, so the team can collaborate, perform real-time root analysis, and quickly apply a solution. Once the problem is resolved and work continues, the occurrence is logged as part of a continuous improvement process. Allowing the team to take a step back and review things to ensure nothing major breaks down saving the company money in the future.


The ANDON Sheet project was assigned to three senior undergraduates, Sean Schukraft, Matthew Olmeda, and Ahmad Black. Sean, a Software Engineering student, focused on the design and creation of the ANDON Sheet interface, while Matthew and Ahmad, both Information Science students, worked on the data collection and analysis. The students were tasked with the project as part of their Senior Capstone for the Fall 2022 semester.


“I’m developing an interface for [Marquardt] and it’s based on the web and basically it’s going to allow factory workers to input data much faster, and it’s going to save a lot of time process for the engineers,” said Schukraft.


Matthew Olmeda expressed his excitement about working on a project with a global company of the magnitude of Marquardt, which he saw as a great opportunity to acquire real-life skills.


“…[There was] a lot of hands-on experience that I would’ve never got otherwise,” Olmeda said. “And just a lot of advice from a really good teacher.”


Collaborating with students brings a fresh perspective, hands-on experience, and new ideas to the manufacturing process. This not only helps the students understand the importance of independent work schedules and team collaboration but also shows them the real-life implications of their work on the employees, customers, and the manufacturing facility. Working closely with manufacturers can help students grow quickly in a fast-paced environment where they can see the results of their work and receive immediate feedback.


Marquardt’s Process Engineer, Ben Schiros, said that the ANDON Sheet includes data collection for downtime, throughput, and failures, which can help with continuous improvement processes. Since the project was completed, Marquardt has partially integrated the ANDON Sheet into daily operations and is still fine-tuning it to meet the company’s specific needs. The students did a fantastic job and will all graduate by the Spring of 2023, taking this valuable experience with them as they start their careers.

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