UWP students collaborate with 3M

April 7, 2006

PLATTEVILLE - 3M, located in Prairie du Chien, has actively influenced the lives of University of Wisconsin-Platteville students for years through cooperative educational experiences and design projects. Continuing the tradition during the spring 2006 semester are UWP students Brian Goodman, Eric McDaniel, Mark Pappas, Maarten Pellenbarg, Damian Hulsebosch, Jonathan Olk and Lodewijk Nederpel, currently completing their industrial engineering senior design project.

Working with Randy Holger, 3M supplier performance manager, and Stewart Bosworth, 3M supply chain manager, the students have primarily been addressing linked supply chain management issues such as inventory levels, part turnover and storage capacity. Dan VonFeldt, a 3M manager who has been an integral part in providing a connection between UWP and 3M is happy to see the relationship blossom over the years. 3M continues to support co-ops, internships and senior design projects creating a win-win situation for students, 3M and UWP.

3M utilizes a third party warehouse but is projecting to more than double the need for additional storage spaces in the next five years. The team of UWP students is researching warehouse options and preparing cost justifications. Some of the criteria they must address include temperature monitored storage and the ability to house special materials. Another aspect of the project includes analyzing "milk runs" or daily truck routes from Prairie du Chien to 3M world headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn. According to Goodman, "The current route doesn't necessary optimize use of the daily trip to and from Minneapolis. It needs to be more efficient and communication between suppliers, the third party warehouse and 3M needs to improve so overstock doesn't occur. We want the customers, suppliers and 3M to save money and space so improving communication is key."

Added Pellenbarg, "Instead of independent company communication, we want to develop a system of communication that would include all the businesses in the process and improve cross communication as a whole." To address overstock issues, the students may suggest the truck route incorporate a hub system based on 3M supplier locations. Investigating further into the hubbing model, the student will provide a comparative analysis as to how this solution may be useful. "The trucks could pick up select items on the way back to Prairie du Chien so 3M facilities are not overstocked," said Nederpel. Added Hulsebosch, "The use of hubbing would be a win-win situation. 3M could save money and wouldn't have to worry about overstock while suppliers could base their shipments more on the needs of 3M. Using a hub system would allow shipments to be managed days in advance instead of weeks."

To further improve the entire process, the students will address 3M's reconciliation process. Commented Olk, "One person manually checks the inventory numbers and compares them to what was sent by the third party warehouse with what was received to ensure the shipment was correct." "We hope to make an integrated system with scanning to eliminate the amount of time spent going over these orders," said Pappas. Since beginning work with 3M, the students have broadened their educational horizons and learned a great deal. "It's an interesting opportunity where we get to work with multiple parties and can better understand supply chain management," said Pellenbarg. Added Pappas, "We're working with real life problems that are more complex than the textbooks. Usually classroom examples are not as in depth as an actual project so this has been great." "This is a more complex problem, but we've been given the freedom to develop our own ideas and solutions. All the aspects of this project are interconnected and we must look at each issue to see what to address next," elaborated McDaniel.

All the students are senior industrial engineering majors. Goodman, Pappas and Olk anticipate graduating in May 2006. Goodman is the son of Michael and Darla Goodman of Reedsburg. Pappas is the son of Jim and Joan Pappas of Neenah. Olk is the son of Thomas and Katherine Olk of Oshkosh. McDaniel, Pellenbarg, Hulsebosch and Nederpel anticipate graduating in December 2006. McDaniel is the son of Greg and Jeanne McDaniel of Waupaca. Pellenbarg, Hulsebosch and Nederpel are international students studying at UWP from Holland.

Contact: Swaminat Balachandran, industrial engineering, (608) 342-1718, balachas@uwplatt.edu

Prepared by: Rachael Lehr, UWP Public Relations, (608) 342-1194,lehrr@uwplatt.edu

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