September 2011
young innovators/Talking Shop with the Next Generation

Internship opportunities leading to future in automation

By Michael Lopresti

As spring of my sophomore year at the University of Missouri approached, I determined I was far enough into my core classes that obtaining a summer internship related to my Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering major would be beneficial to my resume and a way to supplement classroom learning. Through countless phone and in-person interviews, as well as meeting with several companies at our spring career fair, I eventually accepted a position at Lakeshore Cryotronics in Westerville, Ohio. This was my first opportunity to experience manufacturing outside of the textbook knowledge I gained in my engineering classes. 

Once at Lakeshore, I had the opportunity to participate in a variety of projects, and as I displayed motivation and success, I was rewarded with increasingly more responsibility. During the first two weeks of my internship, I spent time understanding the operations associated with many of Lakeshores' product lines by compiling a maintenance database using FaciliWorks. Through the creation of this database, I grouped related assets in order to simplify the preventative maintenance process. These groups were determined on the basis that if one piece of equipment needed maintenance then the remaining assets would be down. In addition, this database indicated the type of service each asset required, the associated user manual for troubleshooting, and notes referring to the impact of delaying service. The goal was not only to compile an accurate and updated asset list but also to maintain system uptimes by fixing problems before they became a downtime issue.

My next project at Lakeshore was the creation of a barcode lot tracking system for instruments. The goal of this system was to eliminate the need for an index card taped to the instrument indicating which stage of assembly it was in. Additionally, this system would allow Lakeshore to alert specific customers of circuit board defects through tracking the board lot number associated with each instrument serial number. Originally, I attempted lot tracking within the company's ERP system, however, after determining this was infeasible, my next route was to learn Microsoft InfoPath and create a form technicians could complete with the use of barcode scanners. This form included pertinent information such as technician identification number, date and time stamps, and lot number. These forms were then compiled on Lakeshore's Microsoft SharePoint site. In the end, my project was implemented, and I trained technicians on how to complete this form I designed.

My remaining projects, while not necessarily related to the field of automation, had a substantial monetary impact for a company with annual revenue of $50 million. While spending time on the manufacturing floor, I observed the excessive amount of time technicians would spend looking for parts which the ERP system indicated were in stock, but were not in their designated location. As a result, I decided to present a cost benefit analysis of purchasing an additional vertical lift module for inventory control. After the project approval, I met with two suppliers and single handedly negotiated a price reduction of 40% ($40,000). Another cost savings project I lead was the renegotiation of Lakeshore's packaging contract. I was able to consolidate to a single supplier and cut the overall budget in half with an annual savings of $30,000. Additionally, I designed the scope of a probe box design, which would eliminate over $10,000 in part replacement costs annually.

After completing projects with an enormous business impact, my work at Lakeshore provided an exceptional platform for my next summer internship. In October 2010, my junior year, I approached P&G at our fall career fair and after interviewing and taking a plant tour, I accepted a manufacturing internship position at the Cape Girardeau Missouri Family Care facility for the summer of 2011.

Work at P&G proved to be vastly different from my experience at Lakeshore. The sheer size and scope of the business was overwhelming at first. Going from a company with $50 million in annual revenue to a single facility responsible for $800 million in annual revenue, the monetary and global impact of many of my projects was extraordinary.

Like at Lakeshore, my first project at P&G involved improving preventative maintenance. Specifically, I was responsible for replacing and redesigning components for a tissue and paper towel multi-roll bundler. This equipment has recorded over $65,000 in annual package sealing failures, due in part to components that were past their life cycles. More specifically, my summer project was highlighted by designing a wear pad with countersunk and colored screw heads allowing an objective determination of part failure as noted by wear levels equivalent to the countersink. This design was so successful it was applied to the Cape Girardeau site as well as all other P&G Family Care facilities.

My next project at P&G involved finding a more effective and less expensive wax to be used during the process of manufacturing paper cores in order to maintain paper quality and act as a friction reducing agent. In completing this project, I was able to find $40,000 in savings through a different type of wax as well as arranging for the recycling and remanufacturing of previously discarded wax chips.

My most notable project at P&G was leading the Cape Girardeau site initiate to reduce tissue and towel scrap through minimizing the amount of paper left on the cores of 1,000kg rolls as they are converted into consumer sized product. My contributions included a way to determine paper caliper changes throughout the production run as well as a more accurate way to calibrate stop lasers. The results of my efforts were $600,000 in annual savings and a robust system to facilitate the communication between the paper making and paper converting sides of the business.

As I enter my senior year at the University of Missouri, I am now enrolled in the Crosby MBA program while simultaneously finishing my undergraduate degree. Having completed two internships in diverse manufacturing settings, I have determined my interests are best suited to experience an MBA internship in corporate supply chain. Through future work experience, I will determine if supply chain is where I want to begin my full-time career.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Lopresti is a senior Industrial Engineering student and collegiate swimmer at the University of Missouri, dually enrolled in the Crosby MBA program.