2017 Spotlight! Team Project Award Winners

September 18, 2017

Innovative solutions for tough operations challenges took center stage at the Tauber Institute for Global Operations' 2017 Spotlight! Team Project Showcase and Scholarship Competition, September 15 at the Ann Arbor Sheraton. Initial figures indicate the 2017 Tauber Team Projects resulted in $575 million in savings according to sponsoring company calculations, an average of $18.5 million per project over three years.

Spotlight! is an annual competitive presentation of the operations and manufacturing solutions developed by Tauber Institute student teams during their 14-week team projects at top companies across the U.S. and around the world. At Spotlight!, Tauber's student teams showcase their project results and compete for academic scholarships. A panel of distinguished judges from diverse industries selected the first, second, and third prize winners among the 32 competing student teams.

First Place: Team Dell.  MBA student Dan Partin and EGL (Engineering Global Leadership) student Allison Ward received scholarship awards of $5,000 each for their work on Dell's ocean plastic supply chain.  As part of Dell's commitment to ocean health outlined at the 2017 United Nations Oceans Conference, Dell pledged to source and incorporate 10 times their current ocean plastic usage into their packaging by 2025.  The Tauber team adapted Dell's Haiti pilot for plastic sourcing to South Asia to capitalize on regional economic advantages and target the world's leading source of ocean plastic.  The Tauber team defined a cost-effective supply chain for ocean plastic that could be scaled to meet growing demand, then identified and recommended that Dell certify three Indonesian and Indian partners as viable sources of ocean plastic and co-locate packaging manufacturing in these countries.  The proposed supply chain delivers scalability within production capacity to source nearly 500 times Dell's commitment for ocean plastic usage.

"South Asia – countries like China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand – are almost 60% of the contribution to the ocean plastic pollution, so we really gave [Tauber Team Dell] a clean slate to figure out how we wanted to scale the supply chain in any one of those countries... coming up with a fact-based recommendation that we can take forward and would be implementing in the next six months."
- Piyush Bhargava, VP Global Operations, Dell Technologies

Read Allison Ward and Dan Partin's blog on Direct2Dell.

Second Place: Team Whirlpool. MBA student Ryan Colameo and MSE-ME/Masters of Management student Ignacio Estrada Garcia received scholarship awards of $4,000 each for their solutions developed for Whirlpool's Advance Manufacturing team, which represents the hub of Whirlpool's strategic push toward achieving Industry 4.0 standards across their enterprise.  For unknown reasons, the manufacturing team was experiencing rib cracks resulting from the forming process when using an oven cavity rib stamping press.  The cracks seemed to appear randomly, but frequently enough to disrupt production and create excessive waste.  The Tauber team used predictive analytics powered by a neural network to uncover fundamental relationships among a dozen variables that potentially contribute to rib cracking.  The results revealed underlying relationships between raw material properties, the stamping press operating parameters, and oven cavity design that could reduce the occurrence of rib cracking by 50% and improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness by nearly 18.5%.

Third Place: Team Boeing Supplier. MBA/MSE-IOE student William Chen, EGL student Tamara Craven (BSE/MSE-IOE), and MBA student Shannon Watt received scholarship awards of $3,000 each for risk analysis within Boeing's supply chain.  With growing demand for air travel, Boeing is increasing production rates to unprecedented levels. To support these increased rates, Boeing relies on suppliers to deliver millions of parts on time and at an acceptable quality in order to assemble its airplanes for on-time delivery. This makes assessing risk within the supply chain a critical part of Boeing's strategy. The Tauber team first performed a risk analysis of the aluminum and titanium mills in order to re-architect the risk assessment process, uncovering an area of opportunity for increased savings with titanium scrap recycling.  The student team then broadened the scope of their 14-week project to identify specific supply chain areas that contained costly risks for Boeing, identifying select improvement areas to generate millions in cost savings.

2017 Spotlight! Book
2017 Team Project On-Site Photos
Searchable Database of past Tauber Team Projects

Tauber’s 2017 team project sponsors are leaders in a wide range of industries, including aerospace, internet commerce, high tech, health care, automotive, energy, and retail. Tauber was pleased to strengthen relationships with 19 continuing project sponsors – 3M, AIP, Amazon, Boeing, BorgWarner, Cardinal Health, Cummins, Dell, Dow, Ford, Fresenius, General Mills, GM, Microsoft, Pepsi, Pfizer, PG&E, Stanley Black & Decker, and Whirlpool – and to begin new partnerships this year with AM General and Target. At 2017 Spotlight!, Amazon and PG&E received longevity awards in recognition of five years of team project sponsorship.

A signature initiative of the Tauber Institute, team projects pair exceptional students with top companies for a 14-week multidisciplinary, collaborative project.  Each 2-3 person project team is comprised of University of MIchigan graduate business and engineering students.  Along with executive direction from the sponsoring firm, each team receives support from both a College of Engineering and a Ross School of Business faculty advisor, supervision by a Tauber Institute Co-Director, and mentoring support from Tauber alumni.

Tauber student teams work on-site at their sponsoring company from May through August to find solutions for substantive operations challenges. Solutions may include lean process design and implementation, manufacturing site strategic assessment, sourcing plans, inventory management, logistics, and new product development. Tauber team projects provide a significant return on a sponsor’s investment – often uncovering millions of dollars of savings – as well as improvements in areas such as CO2 emissions, energy consumption, throughput time, and supply chain risk.

Contact: Theresa Ceccarelli, Marketing Manager / tceccare@umich.edu / 734-647-0308

The Tauber Institute for Global Operations is a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering, working together with industry partners to facilitate cross-disciplinary education in global operations management. The Tauber Institute is an inaugural recipient of the UPS George D. Smith Prize for effective and innovative preparation of students to be good practitioners of operations research, management science, or analytics. For more information visit www.tauber.umich.edu.