Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where there are rocks, students help people roll


From left, Ryan Marsel, Scott Harbarth, Jon Breen and Steven Swoboda. Photo courtesy of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.
A case study in lean manufacturing systems meets real world at UW-Stout — with an emphasis on “world.”

Last winter, manufacturing engineering students at UW-Stout worked with a team of industrial engineering students at Başkent University, located in Ankara, Turkey. The two university teams developed a new manufacturing process for Ankara-based Kifas Manufacturing — the maker of custom wheelchairs and supplies for individuals in the Middle East who have low income and are disabled. The company works directly with humanity aid agencies, such as the Red Cross.

During winter break, the UW-Stout students traveled to Turkey and, along with the Başkent students, finalized and implemented a new plant layout. The layout will increase production from 50 wheelchairs a month to 250.

The new layout also will ease the introduction of a new line of all-terrain wheelchairs into the manufacturing process. The rugged wheelchairs are being manufactured to withstand the harsh terrain in developing countries.

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