URI students help manufacturer re-engineer facility
KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 8, 2000 -- When Pete Evans agreed to allow a group
of engineering students from the University of Rhode Island to use his manufacturing
facility as a laboratory for hands-on learning, he didn't expect his plant
would become more efficient as a result.
That was one outcome of a unique partnership between Evans Findings Inc.,
a metals manufacturer and metal stamping company located in East Providence,
and the URI Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.
Each year, URI Associate Professor Manbir Sodhi seeks a local manufacturer
so students in his "Design and Analysis of Manufacturing Systems"
course can apply the mathematical analysis they learn in class to practical
"When they agree to work with us, the companies often don't know
what they're getting involved with," said Sodhi. "It's a bit
of a risk for them. But the companies also gain a lot from the experience."
The URI partnership with Evans Findings was initiated by Jason Frost
of Cranston, a URI engineering student who worked as an intern at
the company last summer. As a result of Frost's recommendation, Sodhi prepared
a proposal that allowed seven students to conduct an analysis of the manufacturing
and production system at the Evans facility.
"We were a laboratory and data collection point for various analyses
that the class wanted to conduct," said company president Evans, "but
we also had some specific issues we wanted them to take a look at."
Evans asked the students to study the physical layout of his plant and
make recommendations for redesigning the layout to resolve periodic production
At least once a week during the spring semester, Sodhi's students visited
the company to collect data or measure parts of the facility. They then
built a computer model of the facility to analyze the production process.
"Here at URI we have a variety of computer modeling applications
that most companies don't have access to," noted Sodhi. "One
benefit of the partnerships we develop is to expose local companies to some
of the technology that's available. It also helps the companies to see
what someone from outside the business has to say about their operations."
The final product of the student project was a detailed facility analysis
and layout recommendation for the plant.
"They gave us an analytical model of the work flow through our facility,
which looked for bottlenecks," explained Evans. "It's a model
that we can use to predict where bottlenecks might occur if we change the
layout of our facility, and how to alleviate them. The students ended up
making a recommendation for our plant layout that's more efficient for work
and traffic flow."
Although he's still analyzing the final report, Evans said he will likely
incorporate many of the students' recommendations when the company modifies
its physical layout in the fall.
"We recognize the value of the interaction between academia and
the business world, and we're happy to contribute some of our time to that
interaction," concluded Evans. "The students worked very hard
and did a good job for us."
The participating students were: Jeremy Dilts of Exeter, N.H.,
Ben Gauthier of Little Compton, Joseph Medieros of West Greenwich,
Natalie Mohanty of Wakefield, Tom Policastro of Wrentham, Mass.,
Mike Quackenbush of Warwick, and Bryan Reimer of Ringoes, N.J.
In addition to Evans Findings, companies such as Elizabeth Webbing Mills
Inc., Cherry Semiconductor Corp., and Stanley-Bostitch Inc. have all participated
in the project in past years. Companies interested in working on similar
projects at URI can contact Sodhi at 874-5189.
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For Information: Manbir Sodhi 874-5189, Todd McLeish 874-7892