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Annual Summit

2009 Global Supply Chain and Process Management Center  Annual Summit

The Center for Global Supply Chain and Process Management’s (CGSCPM) 2nd Annual Industry Summit in Columbia April 22-23 brought together a total of more than 100 executives and Moore School undergraduates and faculty. The Summit highlighted the findings of student teams who analyzed operations of major companies and made recommendations for improvements that could translate into significant savings for those firms.

Process improvements recommended by Moore student teams since the Center’s inception in 2005 represent millions in savings for CGSCPM member firms, said Sanjay Ahire, professor of operations and supply chain management.

Companies participating in this year’s summit included Johnson & Johnson, Colonial Life, Kaiser Aluminum, Eaton, Pfizer, Cummins, Sonoco, Palmetto Health, and Westinghouse. Cummins Turbo Technologies, with plants in Charleston, S.C., and headquarters in the United Kingdom, joined the CGSCPM in 2009 and represents the Center’s now international reach.

Donna Chavis, director of Continuous Improvement for Colonial Life in Columbia, said Colonial Life has participated in five projects with the GSCPM students and faculty mentors. "Nearly all of the [students’] recommendations have been implemented," she said, and the company "is looking seriously" at recommendations presented by students this spring. The latest project, along with a similar project conducted by graduate students last fall, examined the company’s disability, accident, and health claims processes. The two projects' findings are expected to save Colonial Life more than $200,000 in operating costs, with simultaneous improvement in claims resolution time, customer satisfaction, and market share.

At Kaiser Aluminum’s Greenwood, South Carolina forging facility, students spent days analyzing the company’s production process. They applied Lean and Six-Sigma tools (methodologies to provide better business results through systematic business process improvement) to redesign equipment, develop better layouts, and recommend better production schedules to position the plant to be resource-efficient. "By shaving time off the process and reducing the distance people walk, Kaiser will save about $150,000 annually," said Bob Brandon, general manager of the Greenwood plant. The recommended changes also will improve worker safety, he said. "We have worked with many consultants, and these students’ projects and outcomes have been far better than those of many professionals with much more real-world experience," he said.

Student teams have conducted three projects for Johnson & Johnson in the past year-and-a-half. Jim Ellis, director of U.S. Sales for Johnson & Johnson, said Moore School students have developed credibility within his company and are "becoming part of our culture." Students this spring looked at the company’s production line in its Memphis distribution facility. J&J has identified $1.5 million in savings across the three projects.

Students utilize a wide array of operations/process analyses from the Lean and Six-Sigma toolkit methodologies. Both International Master of Business Administration students (who participate in projects during the fall semester) and undergraduate students in the GSCPM track take part in a two-phase process of "greenbelt certification" (which affirms that the student has completed the necessary Six Sigma and Lean training) from Sonoco Products Company, a $4 billion manufacturing firm headquartered in South Carolina.

The Moore School "offers a truly unique level of dual competencies in the domains of global supply chain management and operations/business process improvement not consistently offered at any other leading business school," said Ahire, who spearheads the majority of projects and leads the Center’s Lean Six-Sigma certification initiative in collaboration with Sonoco Products Company.

The CGSCPM was formed in 2005 to help companies improve performance and provide students with real-world experience and application of operations management skills learned in the classroom. Member firms pay $30,000 per year to participate in the GSCPM.

Johnnie Dobbs, executive vice-president of Supply Chain Logistics at Wal-Mart, was keynote speaker at the Summit luncheon. In his professional role, Dobbs said he had heard "a lot of pitches" and was convinced that Moore School students compare favorably. "The students and faculty should be proud of what you’re doing."

Senior Moore School student Christina Everett, who worked on the Johnson & Johnson team, said participating in the GSCPM provides "real-life applications… I feel I can offer experience when I go for job interviews. We learn about operations from start to finish, like the back of our hand."

The GSCPM projects can lead to jobs for students. Eaton hired seven GSCPM students last year, and two more will join the company this year. "Our program is creating competencies for our students that compare favorably with or exceed the operations and supply chain-related competencies of graduates from other leading programs in the world," said Manoj Malhotra, founding director of the Center and chair of the Management Science Department. "It is no surprise that based on student interviews, our educational program in operations management at Moore School was recently ranked among the top 15 programs by Princeton Review.

"The work by the Center that was showcased at the Summit is an integral part of our value-added proposition, and we will continue to build on these unique strengths for the future as well."

Gail Crouch
April 2009