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College to Offer Lean Manufacturing Course

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SALISBURY, N.C.,  October 25, 2012 — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is offering a new "lean" class focused on helping organizations solve problems.

The idea of "lean" might seem to only apply to manufacturing, but lean processes are used in many other places. The goal is to eliminate waste to increase efficiency.

"Every organization has waste. They do things that don't add value," said Franklin Merrell, program chair of industrial engineering technology. "Value-engineering asks the question: How does this step add value to what I do? How does it serve our customers or make a better product?"

The lean concept has proven to be a successful continuous improvement application for companies ranging from major corporations to family-owned businesses.

"Lean is not about making people work faster or harder; people are not waste. It's about how you make those people more effective. It's about establishing a system so that products or information can flow through processes at the pace of customer demand," said Merrell.

Merrell's previous classes have conducted on site projects for local industry, including an ongoing project with General Electric in Salisbury. One semester, Merrell's classes discovered that simply changing the order in which something was done reduced cycle time by 20 percent.

Students who complete this course will be prepared to take the yellow belt exam of the six sigma certifications. A yellow belt can integrate six sigma methodologies for the improvement of production and transactional systems to better meet customer expectations and bottom-line objectives of their organization. A yellow belt typically has basic knowledge of six sigma, but does not lead projects on his own.

"For the last three years, all of my graduates have either gotten jobs or transferred on to a four-year college or university. They're employable," said Merrell.

The college's new lean manufacturing class will start in the spring semester.

"People think that industrial engineering technology students can only go work in manufacturing. These days, it's simply not true. A full third of my graduates are working for non-manufacturing companies such as Food Lion, Carolinas Healthcare, Corning and Zimmer Medical Devices."

"Ultimately, my students are problem solvers. All organizations need employees with the ability to think critically and solve problems in the current competitive work environment," said Merrell.

For more information, please contact Merrell at 704.216.3920 or franklin.merrell@rccc.edu.

Source: salisburypost.com, © 2012 Post Publishing Co., Inc.

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