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September, 2014
Industrial Engineering in the Real World

We all know that sometimes there's a big gap between life in the classroom and on the front lines of the workplace. Possessing knowledge is an important foundation, but knowing how to identify the right problems, justify appropriate solutions and effectively implement change can mean the difference between success and failure.

In this newsletter, we'll offer examples of how the gap is being bridged in real world situations among our clients and associates.


Michele Stuart
Lessons Learned in Industry
Sometimes there is no replacement for hands-on learning in the workplace. The following list outlines a few lessons that should be learned quickly when your job involves any form of process engineering and change implementation.
  • Solve problems that need to be solved, and be willing to take on the small, less glamorous issues.
  • Humbly work side-by-side with the employees involved in a process to leverage their perspective and experience.
  • Develop change and conflict management skills to deal with resistance by people at all levels within the company.
  • Focus on less than optimal solutions that will actually work over optimal solutions that are not realistic or have a very long timeline to completion.
  • No amount of data can replace direct observation of a process.
Do you have other valuable lessons to share?  If so, we'd love to hear from you.

The Secret of Successful LEAN Teams
Assembling a Lean team to look at processes from a waste-eliminating and money-saving perspective is a great idea in theory, but that alone does not guarantee success. Lean teams must be equipped with necessary skills and toolkits -- this part is obvious, but who makes up the team is an important and often overlooked feature.

Ellis Healthcare System's Lean team has met with great success in their first endeavor within the organization. The goal was to reduce linen utilization, and the team was comprised of a cross-functional group of staff volunteers who represented various areas that were affected by, or had an effect upon, linen usage. While searching for ways to reduce volume, they had amongst themselves people with the answers. In this particular case, it was the Environmental Services group, responsible for cleaning and housekeeping, that explained the dramatic increase in washcloth usage and verified excessive amounts of linen in patient rooms. The result -- a 25% reduction in both linen cost and volume.  

Forward-Thinking Architecture Firm
Facilities layout and design, while a core piece of Industrial Engineering, is often lacking from the world of architecture.  Architects and engineers often find themselves at odds with one another in a battle of form vs. function. This is why we applaud Array Architects for hiring a Healthcare Systems Engineer to aid their process improvement efforts as they work in the healthcare industry.  Laura Silvoy, Array's new engineer, received her Master's degree in Engineering from Lehigh University. Her expertise will be leveraged to help Array create cost-effective designs with an eye on the process and quality of care. We're especially excited that one of her first projects involved simulation for the design of a surgery center. You can read more about Laura's research here.

If you are looking to hire an intern or recent graduate, Efficiency Engineers can help!  We have deep connections to Lehigh University and other local colleges and have placed over 85 students into temporary, intern, and full-time positions.
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