Asee peer logo

Can Lean Manufacturing Be Applied To University Laboratories?

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Technologies in Manufacturing Education II

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.340.1 - 12.340.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Shirish Sreedharan University of Missouri


Frank Liou University of Missouri

visit author page

Frank Liou is a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR). He currently serves as the Director of the Manufacturing Engineering Program at UMR. His teaching and research interests include CAD/CAM, rapid prototyping, and rapid manufacturing. He has published over 100 technical papers and has research grants and contracts over $8M.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Can Lean Manufacturing Be Applied to University Laboratories?

Shirish Sreedharan and Frank Liou University of Missouri-Rolla

Abstract Lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste and improving flow using techniques such as value stream mapping, standard work, 5S, single minute exchange of dies, and visual management. This paper presents a case study to show the value of creating and facilitating student learning in lean manufacturing in the university environment. This case study implemented lean manufacturing principles to a university rapid manufacturing laboratory. The approach begins with the application of value stream mapping to identify gaps between the current and future state maps. Lean techniques were then implemented to achieve the future state map. These projects have facilitated experiential learning through “Hear, See, and Do” cycle by bridging the gap between academia and industry via learning modules in lean manufacturing education. It not only benefits students working on the lean project as a practical learning experience, but also acts as a lean manufacturing education show case to students on campus.

Introduction Lean manufacturing principles represent a radical departure from traditional plant techniques [1]. The employee's roles, skill-sets, process-requirements, and rules have changed. Team members must operate like an independent business with total responsibility for the quality, manufacturing and delivery of the product to their customers. Team members need to be empowered with current information, dedicated resources, and established boundaries to accomplish their mission. Some literatures have shown the benefits of applying lean principles to non-traditional environment, such as offices [2-4], and laboratories [5]. Lean office techniques can be implemented to build high performance organizations, and people, processes and tools of an organization - and then maximize that value by optimizing the flow of information and ideas. Laboratories have been slow to adopt lean manufacturing principles to help improve their performance and the services they provide to their customers [6]. Some questions, such as,

What would be the impact of using the lean manufacturing principles into a university laboratory? How would this change the laboratory and the students working there? Would this project provide a learning environment in lean manufacturing?

This paper is to report this experience. The implementation of lean manufacturing principles to the Laser Aided Manufacturing Processes (LAMP) Lab at the University of Missouri-Rolla was used as a case study. This lab is a good example as it has been used for several years, there are many groups of students working on it, and it is pretty busy and has an agenda, similar to an industrial setting.

LAMP Laboratory combines laser deposition and machining processes to develop a hybrid rapid manufacturing process to build functional metal parts. The configuration of “Proceedings of the 2007 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2007, American Society for Engineering Education”

Sreedharan, S., & Liou, F. (2007, June), Can Lean Manufacturing Be Applied To University Laboratories? Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1617

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015