Clemson students learn by building a better clock

January 28, 2009

CLEMSON, SC – January 28, 2009  — Students in Clemson’s College of Business and Behavioral Science are learning to build a better clock.

A simulation study on lean management is under way to determine the most efficient process to produce a clock. The simulation is developed by Time Wise Inc., in which students participate in the production exercise. The goal of the simulation is for students to experience production in both traditional and lean-production environments.

The students run the production twice, said management professor Larry Fredendall. The first time it is in a very traditional manufacturing environment where they find it inefficient and costly. The students then break into cross-functional teams and redesign the production line. They run it with their changes so that they can see the benefits in terms of quality, inventory, lead times and even financial results.

Fredendall and accounting professor Frances Kennedy are conducting the simulation as part of the courses they teach on lean operations and cost accounting.

We first ran this joint lab in the fall, Kennedy said. It was so successful we added it to the curriculum.

This effort to teach lean production to college students using a hands-on simulation was initiated by Sharon Johnson, associate professor of management and director of the industrial engineering program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. It was funded by a grant through the National Science Foundation and by Time Wise Management Systems, a private consulting firm. For participating in the lean innovation network, Clemson received funding for two business faculty members — Fredendall and Kennedy — to attend training at Worcester. In addition, Clemson received all of the materials necessary to build the clocks in a simulated factory.