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May 29, 2007 > Students converge at local business to make it better

Students converge at local business to make it better

Submitted By Kathy Mello

Sort, Shine, Set, Standardize, Sustain. These are the things that 5s is made of, and are what thirty three students focused on at TGIF Body Shop as a class project. They descended upon the facility of the 26 year old collision repair business to design and engineer five projects for process improvement.

This partnership came about after TGIF received a government grand to do "lean" training through Manex Corporation. Manex is a non profit company that acts as a liaison to design and facilitate delivery of training grants that support improvement in small and medium sized businesses.

It was through this project that TGIF staff met Professor Diane Hall when she was contracted by Manex to create a "value stream map" with the business in order to create a process improvement plan for the 150 cars that are repaired there per month. Dr. Hall teaches a class called "Lean Eyes" as part of the manufacturing and systems engineering program at San Jose State University. It has been said that after taking this class one views their surroundings in a new way, often going home to re-organize the entire house for better efficiency.

After an Italian dinner, hosted by TGIF, each student chose a section of the facility to improve upon. "Before" photos were taken, and several items were "red tagged" to assess their current usefulness prior to being otherwise considered as "clutter". Objectives for improvement were developed for each area and the design for solutions began. Over a six week period, the challenge of implementation took place between classes, families and the work day of the students.

Last week the project culminated with each group making a formal presentation with recommendations for on going improvement. The contributions made to TGIF will assist in greater efficiency and profitability, and according to company COO, Kathy Mello, the students have made a positive impact on the overall internal culture.

Benefits to the students are the reality experience in application of the classroom theory, the skills developed by working with a "live" company, and the practice of playing the role of a consultant.

TGIF is grateful for this opportunity which will stay with this business as they work at constant process improvement and sustaining the new processes. Everyone is better because of this experience. The project ended with discussion and dessert where the question was posed "Is it ok to "red tag" your boyfriend, or girlfriend?

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