Business students supply insights to Kellogg in class projects

September 19, 2012

When Richard Summitt II returned to Indiana State University to resume his education, he figured that he already knew what to expect from his 300-level statistics class.

He didn't suspect that his academic endeavors would take him off-campus, east on U.S. 40 outside Terre Haute and to a bakery in Seelyville.

Several summer courses in the Scott College of Business partnered with Kellogg Company's bakery in Seelyville. The partnership allowed students to implement the curriculum taught in an operations management course and a statistics class, while Kellogg was able to benefit from projects that directly affected the bakery's daily operations. The operations management class implemented a "5 S" event, in which they utilized a visual management system to organize part of the bakery. The statistics management students separated into teams and analyzed data affecting the facility's control parameters.

"I see how the statistical analysis for businesses works a little bit better," Summitt said about the experience. "It's one of the classes where you can directly use it in the future."

The operations management students learned about the 5 S process, which stands for sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain, said Ken Jones, senior lecturer of operations management who taught the courses that worked with the Kellogg facility.

Students learned the processes, then went to the Kellogg bakery and spoke with workers to learn more about the site's needs before implementing the 5 S process to one of the production areas.

"With this class, we got to see what is truly important in making business decisions, apply course content to a manufacturing setting, and actually go out and learn from our mistakes or those assumptions that a lot of naïve business students will make right out of college," said Tad R. Chew, a senior accounting major from Reelsville who participated in the 5 S project. "We saw firsthand what it's like to work in an actual business setting where our decisions affect people, from production workers to consumers."

Jones approached Kellogg Co. about teaming for a project after learning about the Seelyville bakery, which is about a 15-minute drive from the ISU campus. He and Ryan Smith, continuous improvement manager for the Seelyville bakery, discussed several ideas for projects before deciding on the initiatives tackled by Jones' courses.

"One of the toughest hurdles for the younger generation to overcome in this economic global climate is proving they can ‘do it' on a par or better than experienced workers," Jones said. "Many employers are somewhat skeptical on how their skills bridge to company needs. I'm trying to find ways to do that in the classroom."

The operations management experience went better than expected, said Smith. The 5 S events typically take several days to complete, which was made more difficult given the students' limited time to complete a summer session course, he said.

"I think they really took the time to understand the process, understand what some operator concerns and what some possible improvements were, and they made some great suggestions as well as implemented some of their ideas," added Smith, who graduated from ISU in 2002 with a degree in business management.

The operations management students traveled to the Seelyville bakery once a week for the five-week course. They worked several hours each time before they created a list of potential tasks they wanted to do, and in speaking with Smith, finalized the projects that they completed.

"We focused in on three or four improvements that would probably give Kellogg the biggest ‘bang for its buck,' taking into consideration the limited time that we had to implement those measures," Chew said. "We carried them out as planned, and everybody seemed happy. I think it was a valuable experience for both sides."

The groups also presented their findings to several employees of the Seelyville bakery. Students in the analysis course also spoke the conclusions that they reached, which ultimately indicated that more information was needed to draw conclusions about changing some site operations.

"We gave them a lot of data to work with and we let them run with it on their own. We didn't limit them with anything," Smith said. "We just let them get their creative juices going, and they looked at our processes a little differently than how I ever looked at them."

Both groups benefited from the work. While students experienced applying their lessons directly to a business scenario, the Kellogg bakery also received direct benefit from the 5 S improvements, along with receiving the statistical information, Smith said.

"It was not only that," he added. "It was personally rewarding for everyone at the plant who got to work with them."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Austin-submitted-photos/i-WWB3x6P/0/L/Kellogg-presentation-04-L.jpg (Submitted photo)Indiana State University student Steve Landwer discusses elements of his group's work during a presentation at the Kellogg bakery in Seelyville. Landwer was part of a group of students who implemented a "5 S" event at this site, in which they utilized a visual management system to organize part of the bakery. The team project with Kellogg helped the students learn more about the curriculum in their operations management course.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Austin-submitted-photos/i-LxcPwfm/0/L/Kellogg-presentation-03-L.jpg (Submitted photo)Indiana State University student Tad R. Chew during a presentation at the Kellogg bakery in Seelyville. Chew was part of a group of students who implemented a "5 S" project at the bakery to learn more about the curriculum in their operations management course.

Contact: Ken Jones, senior lecturer, operations management, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 317-413-6753 or kenneth.jones@indstate.edu

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or austin.arceo-negrich@indstate.edu