High School Manufacturing Simulation

On February 17th, the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services, in partnership with the The South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance, hosted a lean manufacturing training class for students in Maury County. A total of twenty eight students from Columbia Central and Mount Pleasant high schools attended the session. 


During the six hour session, UT CIS lean consultants, John Collier and Misty DePriest led the students through a series of lecture and hands on simulations designed to show participants the differences between mass production and lean manufacturing. The students began the day working at Buzz Electronics, a simulated factory that produces commercial and residential alarm systems. Each student was given a “role” to play, some of which included material handler, shop floor operator, production scheduler, and sales.
In the first round of the simulation, the students were given fifteen minutes to assemble, test, and ship as many products as they could in a traditional mass production scenario. After the first round, the students discussed the problems they experienced that kept them from making quality products for their customers and profit for Buzz Electronics. Some of these problems included having to wait for material, poor quality, and an imbalance in work flow that allowed materials to stack up and not progress through the system. 

The students essentially saw how the eight manufacturing wastes prevent value added flow of product through a facility. John Collier then led the students through a discussion about workplace organization, standard work, and continuous flow. The students were given an opportunity to make improvements to Buzz Electronics resulting in an increase in productivity and customer shipments resulting in a large profit. The day ended with a panel discussion at which the students were able to ask questions about manufacturing.
The goal of the training was to get students interested in manufacturing and to show them the importance of continuing their education after high school.