Good problems. Great solutions.

July 19, 2021
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It's a good problem for the Brunswick Corporation: throughout the past year, demand for boats produced by the Mercury Marine division has consistently exceeded production capacity.

Great operations solutions can allow companies to nimbly meet the changing needs of the marketplace. This summer, 25 teams of Tauber Institute for Global Operations business + engineering graduate students are developing optimal solutions for tough operations challenges posed by sponsoring companies - including problems produced by a sharp increase in consumer demand.
 
Brunswick enlisted the Tauber student team of Leo Lin, Jack Simmons, and Sharon Sun to address Mercury Marine's demand planning and prevent future bottlenecks on critical assets, lower-than-expected fill rates, and unnecessary operational costs during peak demand periods. The Tauber team sought not only to address the numbers, but also to understand the culture of the business.
 
Simmons reports from Fond du Lac, WI: "Our project for the summer is focused on accounting for capacity in planning given that boat demand has been over production capacity since COVID began. To better understand the love of boats and high performance engines, we got to meet a racing team and see a racing boat. It looked a lot like a spaceship and many of the engineers that work on it are actually from the aerospace industry. We also got to test out the engines we’ve seen built on the water, cruising up to 84 mph with three of their 450 HP engines. The ones in the race boat can be up to 1700HP and go up to 160MPH."
 
The Beyond Meat Tauber team of Gilbert Pasquale and Channing Wan is facing a similar challenge. Beyond Meat is a rapidly growing producer of plant-based meat substitutes that recently acquired a plant in Devault, PA. Pasquale and Wan have been tasked to measure the Operational Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) on manufacturing lines within this facility. After calculating OEE, they'll recommend improvements, create training materials, and pilot programs to help Beyond Meat reach World Class OEE benchmarks. Pasquale reports: "Our summer with Beyond Meat continues to be a great learning experience. Beyond's commitment to innovation within their product lines creates exciting production challenges from commercialization to ever-changing schedules."
 
 
For the 2021 Tauber team projects, the Tauber Institute is partnering with AIP, Amazon, Beyond Meat, Boeing, Brunswick, Curation Foods, Estee Lauder, Ford, General Motors, Herman Miller, Howmet, Mayo Clinic, Mott Hospital, NCMS, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Stanley Black & Decker, Stoneridge, Target, and Whirlpool. Tauber teams frequently uncover significant savings for their sponsors – and champion major improvements in project fields such as data analytics, sustainability in operations, supply chain, and strategy. The 2020 Tauber team projects resulted in $433.8 million in savings according to sponsoring company calculations, an average of $31 million per project over three years.
 
 
Tauber students enjoy unparalleled access to the inner workings of top global firms. Pasquale remarked, "As we've helped Beyond to identify and attack areas for improvement, we've also been able to learn from the production, quality assurance, and maintenance teams among others. We're looking forward to this fall's Spotlight! to share some of what we've been able to accomplish!"
 
After working for their sponsoring companies from May through mid-August, Tauber student teams present their results at the annual Spotlight! Team Project Showcase and Scholarship Competition in September. Solutions may include lean process design and implementation, manufacturing site strategic assessment, sourcing plans, inventory management, logistics, and new product development.
 
Along with executive direction from the sponsoring firm, each team receives support from both a Michigan Engineering and a Michigan Ross School of Business faculty advisor, and project oversight by a Tauber Institute Co-Director. The Tauber Alumni Network provides additional mentorship and networking opportunities for students at their team project locations.
 
To sponsor a 2022 team project, or if you have additional questions, please contact Associate Director Asli Aka at akah@umich.edu.

The Tauber Institute for Global Operations is a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Michigan 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 tauber.umich.edu.