Thursday, November 06, 2008

Operation: MicroAire

B-school and buzzwords are two peas in a pod. We throw buzzwords around in our classes, often, poking fun at the way we speak. The sad thing, they're used in the real world! We're not just a bunch of highly educated students with a knack for buzzwords anymore, we're the next generation of managers who will implement lean thinking.

Yesterday, the entire first year class was broken up into subsections that visited a number of companies to analyze their processes. A few of the companies attended were Target, Hersey's, Philip Morris, and Hollister (not the clothing company). My group went to MicroAire, a privately held company that manufactures hand held medical devices specifically for orthopedic surgery. In addition, they manufacture a device for liposuction and one for carpel tunnel as well as various disposable blades and tubes. As many of my classmates noted, this company was definitely drinking the Kool-Aid. Everywhere we went, they discussed lean and reductions in waste, movement and inventory. They also managed to reduce their setup time as well as their throughput time by converting to cell manufacturing after holding a Kaizen event. The cell is in beta form for now, however, the company hopes to expand cells plant wide as they continue to cross-train all their employees. Further, they are looking for ways to reduce product development. Needless to say, the company visit was a great experience to see all of our hypothetical talk put into practice. We're not just learning buzzwords here, but the practical application of business practices.

Plus, who doesn't love a field trip?

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