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Use the years above to take the site back in time and use the menu below for more details about the center during that year.

Plant Tours

Plant Trip: Ingersoll-Rand

On February 22, the Friday before Mod 3 finals, the Ops Club took a trip to Ingersoll-Rand’s Von Duprin plant in Indianapolis.  When we arrived at the plant, we were greeted by several staff members who were generously sharing their afternoon with us.  

The first item on the agenda was a lecture about Von Duprin and its turn around story.   Von Duprin’s story begins in tragedy.  In 1903, 594 people died in a Chicago theater fire when they could not exist from the theater’s locked doors.  In 1908 Von Duprin emerged with a solution to the problem of how to keep doors locked from the outside for security, but open from the inside for safety: the panic bar.  To this day Von Duprin is the leader in exit devices with a 60% share of the market.  In addition to exit devices, Von Durpin also manufactures door control devices (the mechanisms at the top of doors that make them close without slamming) and electronic security devices, including a new hand recognition system.  Also during the lecture we were told about Von Duprin’s success in manufacturing turnaround time.  Six years ago it took Von Duprin 6 to 8 weeks from the time they received a standard order until they got the product out the door; it was even longer than that for customized orders.  Now Von Duprin can process and ship most of their products in 2 days.  One of the keys to their success is a simple Kanban board system.  After the lecture we were divided into small groups to tour the factory floor where we could see for ourselves the Kanban system and other successful manufacturing practices.  

The first impression that we had of the factory was how clean everything was.  Everything was well planned even down to the floor, which was painted both to provide organizational areas (for parts and work in process), and to enhance the lighting conditions. In the plant we witnessed many manufacturing processes including sheet metal cutting and forming, drilling of cast parts and assembly. One of the most fascinating areas to watch was that of the polishing robots – they were very impressive.  We learned that Von Duprin has been going through processes of continual improvement and their upcoming project was to re-engineer their shipping department.

After the plant tour, we all reconvened and had time to ask questions about what we had seen in the plant.  Before we left, we were happily surprised with stylish Ingersoll-Rand pullover jackets as a memento of our visit.  The staff that hosted us was very friendly and helpful in answering our questions.  The trip was a great success in that we came away having learned about a successful manufacturing plant.  We thank everyone who made this trip possible. 


Plant Trip: GM-Allison


The GM-Allison plant hosted a group from the Krannert Operations club on 22nd March at their Indianapolis facilities. Allison transmission is a division of General Motors and has an 80% market share of all commercial-duty automatic transmissions sold in the world. It has a presence in 81 countries and built the first fully automatic transmission for on-highway trucks. The plant visit started by a brief introduction of Allison’s history, information about their product line and association with GM. This was followed by a plant tour of their various shop-floor operations. The post-tour debriefing brought out a discussion on Allison’s efforts in lean-manufacturing, cost cutting and maintaining an edge over competitors. Their initiatives in new product development like the hybrid power transmission configurations were also discussed. It was interesting to note that Allison supplies it’s transmissions to a number of customers other than GM. Therefore customer relations became increasingly important in their business. Mr. Steve Shade from DCMME also inquired about the role of a Krannert student in manufacturing industries and specifically at Allison. Senior representatives from different departments presented their views on functional roles available for MBA’s with a manufacturing focus. The plant trip was valuable in providing a chance to experience the real world and current technologies. We hope that plant trips will continue to foster our relations with the industry.


Plant Trip: Rolls-Royce


In the spring semester of 2002, the Ops Club took a trip to the Rolls-Royce Corporation (RRC) plant in Indianapolis.  When we arrived at the plant we were greeted by numerous staff members who were generous enough to spend the day with us.  The first item on the agenda was a series of presentations about Rolls-Royce and its lean manufacturing initiative, the first of which was delivered by Steve Dwyer the president of RRC Defense North America.  Rolls-Royce Corporation is a leading manufacturer of airplane engines and is currently owned by Rolls-Royce PLC in the UK.  It consists of two major plants, and is divided into four Customer Facing Business Units (CFBUs) which are: Corporate and Regional Airlines, Helicopter, Defense North America and Energy and Marine.

The presentations explained how a tighter economy was forcing even greater competitiveness in the aerospace industry.  Rolls-Corporation has responded to this increase in competitiveness by embarking on numerous and highly ambitious initiatives.  For example, Rolls-Royce Corporation has struck strategic alliances with General Electric in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.  In 1996, Rolls-Royce Corporation embarked on the Lean Aerospace Initiative with the purpose of reducing production cycles and lead time, increasing the speed of designing new products with the goal of introducing new products to market within 24 months, and the increasing the rapidity of producing piece parts and assembling an engine, also known as the 40 day engine initiative.

After the lecture, we were divided onto smaller groups to tour the factory floor and obtain a first hand view of Rolls-Royce lean manufacturing initiatives.  This plant tour proved to be unique in that we could directly witness the “before” and “after” effects of a lean manufacturing implementation.  The term lean manufacturing is often used interchangeably with Just-in-Time (JIT) and pull manufacturing.  However, we learnt that these techniques actually contribute to an overall lean system. Lean manufacturing is a system based on the philosophy of waste elimination, the removal of all non-value added activity from the process of delivering a customer’s requirement in a manner that ensures they are completely satisfied and return with repeat orders.  

On the shop floor, we could see how Rolls Royce’s process re-engineering endeavors included the creation of dedicated work cells.  Cellular manufacturing is the heart of lean thinking. It increases productivity and quality. Cellular layouts organize departments around a product or a narrow range of similar products hence simplifying material flow, management and even accounting systems. Flow implementation in Rolls-Royce is currently by product family, such as the T56 Industrial Family, the 250 Family and the AE Family.  Rolls-Royce has also succeeded in reducing lot sizes. Using large smaller production sizes has various implications. Given that production is a sequential list of events; lead-time decreases as lot or batch size decreases.  In addition, quality improves with smaller lot sizes given that inspection is performed at the end of the process, which in turn reduces scrap.  Using smaller lot sizes also means that material demand is cascaded to the suppliers in smaller buckets.  We were also able to see other successful manufacturing practices such as kitting and buffering. 

After the plant tour, we all reconvened in the executive conference room, and had the chance to thank the staff who were gracious in hosting us and answering our questions.  The trip was a great success and we thank everyone who made it possible.


Plant Trip: American Axle & Manufacturing


Perhaps Bill Wenz was being humorous in his e-mail message which said “See you bright and early on Friday morning.” It was early (6 am) but pitch black and rainy! In any case, the trip to American Axle’s Three Rivers, MI plant was a highly educational as well as enjoyable experience for all the participants. The entire agenda for the day had been meticulously planned by AAM and was executed to perfection.

We were first addressed by senior management of AAM including Richard F. Dauch, Vice President of Financial Planning and John S. Sofia, Director- Advanced Quality Planning as well as manufacturing managers of the Three Rivers facility. We learnt of the history and growth of AAM and the Three River Facility and it became clear to us that AAM is a company committed to world-class manufacturing.

After this we were taken around the shop floors of both the prop shaft and axle sections of the plant and explained the manufacturing process of both products. However, the highlight of the day was the actual manufacturing problems that we worked on. AAM provided us with a large amount of data regarding two current improvement projects, both related to bottlenecks in different lines. We were given free access to the shop floor as well as further information as needed and were asked to come up with concrete suggestions within two hours and present them to the AAM team.

In undertaking the two activities, we learnt that situations are often not what they seem at first glance. We also understood the importance of coming up with suggestions which are practical as well as financially viable to implement. We take this opportunity to thank each of the management and workforce of AAM who took so much time out of their schedules to make this trip one of the highlights of our management education.


Plant Trip: Ingersoll-Rand


In Fall 2002, the Operations Club traveled to Ingersoll-Rand’s plant in Indianapolis.  The tour group consisted of undergraduate and graduate Purdue students.

The students were greeted by several members of the Ingersoll-Rand plant staff and were divided into small groups for the plant tour.  Several highly knowledgeable members of the plant led the students out to the shop floor for the tour.  The tour, which lasted about 45 minutes, highlighted Ingersoll-Rand’s pull-manufacturing system, investments in high-tech machinery (including robotics) and high number of shelf-keeping units.  Ingersoll-Rand’s well-organized and clean plant was proudly displayed.  The plant’s tour guides answered the students’ many questions expertly and candidly.

As the students returned to the reception room, they were treated to cookies and given an overview of the company by Jason Gustafson.  The presentation lasted nearly an hour and encompassed Ingersoll-Rand’s diversified businesses, dedication to the career development of its associates and managers, and internship programs.  Gustafson also hosted a question-and-answer session that covered several of the students’ questions about Ingersoll-Rand.

After the presentation, the students were invited to spend time in one-on-one conversations with Ingersoll-Rand’s plant hosts, who encompassed a wide variety of functions within the plant.  The students enthusiastically seized this opportunity to learn more about Ingersoll-Rand and make valuable contacts as they search for rewarding and challenging careers.

The Operations Club thanks Ingersoll-Rand for taking the time to open its doors and further cultivate the passion for manufacturing that drives Purdue students.