Design and Manufacturing Consulting Project
IEOR 140: Industrial Production Methods

Professor: Ken Goldberg
Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) Dept
University of California at Berkeley

A central focus of the course is the Design and Manufacturing Consulting Project, where teams of 3-4 students work together through the semester as ``consultants'' for a local company. Each team develops a report on their client, summarizing the product, materials, and current production methods. Teams will then identify and quantify a specific problem related to quality or throughput, measure and analyze relevant data, research alternative production methods involving automation, and propose solutions with cost analysis. Teams will also design and propose a new product for their company.

The client facility can vary from a cement mixing plant to a high-volume coffee house. The facility must be involved in the production at volumes where issues of production are important. Examples from previous clases are listed on the IEOR 140 course home page.

Contact Reports: During the first week of class, students will individually contact companies that may be candidate clients and write a half-page Contact Report, consisting of a brief description of the company, its location, products, production volumes, and their level of enthusiasm for working with an IEOR 140 team.

Project teams will be announced during the third week of class. Each team will give presentations on the progress of their Consulting Project during the semester. These will be in the form of timed 10 minute Powerpoint (or WWW-based) presentations given by the team to the class in the IEOR PC lab. This will allow the Instructor and the class to provide feedback at each phase of the project.

Phase I. During the 3rd/4th week of class, the team agrees on an appropriate client to work with. Finding a friendly and enthusiastic contact person will make the project much more enjoyable. It is important to clarify that this is an educational project and that you can make no guarantees about your results. Often companies are concerned about confidentiality of their production methods and levels. One option is to keep the company identity confidential in all presentations (the instructor must know the true identity of the company). Also, teams can offer to scale production numbers or to suppress confidential details, but the company must agree to allow you to present enough information to describe your project. Also, the facility should be close enough to permit at least 3 site visits by the team. The contact person must confirm willingness to work with you. Phase I includes a 1 page summary report on the above, including Project title, team number and members, Company and products, location and contact person, level of enthusiasm, and how team responsibilities will be divided. This report is due at the end of the 4th week of class.

Phase II. The team prepares a presentation on the the client, history, product, and the current methods of production. Photographs and plant layout plans with flow charts are very helpful. Teams should also use the Internet and the library to research similar production facilities and give statistics about their client's market and industry in general. Phase II presentations are approximately at the end of the 6th week.

Phase III. The team identifies and quantifies a specific research problem related to quality or throughput. Clearly it is impossible to analyze everything in the facility. Think about current methods that are labor intensive and could be improved with automation. The objective could be to reduce product variance, reduce waste, reduce production cost, improve throughput, modify product design, etc. Where appropriate, teams should describe existing equipment models and get performance characteristics from the vendors. The key is to identify specific numerical metrics to measure, then to perform experiments, and then to compare performace and show how these relate to cost and profit. Teams will gather data from the facilty using direct measurements (eg, with stop watches or rulers) or data provided by the client. Teams will analyze this data statistically and present results graphically. Computer simulation can be useful. A 1-page report on Phase III, summarizing the research problem, the metric, proposed experiments, and method of evaluation is due at the end of the 7th week. Phase III presentations with initial data are approximately at the end of the 11th week.

Phase IV. Based on the results of data analysis, teams consider how performance can be improved. Alternative solutions involving automation (or new models of existing machinery) can be found on the Internet (the online Thomas Register) and/or the phone book. Teams quantify predicted improvements and provide a cost analysis taking into account factors such as labor, increases in market share, decreased liability risks, etc.
Design component: each team designs a new product for their company. The new product might be based on modifying the size, material, functionality, user interface, or application of existing products, or combining two products into one.

Final Presentation. Oral presentation, 10 mins summarizing all of the above with emphais on data analysis, new product design, and conclusions.

Written Report. Each team should submit 2 copies of a written project report (10 pages max!). The Report should include project title, team members, Name of Client Company and contact information , and a 300 word Executive Summary of the project on Page 1. Subsequent pages should summarize the information above, with special emphasis on experiments, data, design, conclusions, lessons learned, and a written statement of feedback from the client. The report should also summarize team member responsibilities and at least one suggestion for a future project with this client.