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Teaching Lean Manufacturing On A Distance Learning Platform Using Virtual Simulation

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Lean Manufacturing Education

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Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1215.1 - 11.1215.11



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Paper Authors

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Merwan Mehta East Carolina University


Richard Monroe East Carolina University

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Richard W. Monroe is associate professor of Technology Systems focusing on Distribution and Logistics at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. He completed his Ph.D. at Old Dominion University in 1997 and completed his M.S. at Western New England College in 1990. His dissertation research was conducted at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He has almost 20 years of industry experience in industrial engineering prior to his academic career. He is a member of ASEM, APICS, ASQ, and a senior member of IIE.

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

Teaching Lean Manufacturing on a Distance Learning Platform Using Virtual Simulation Abstract

Simulation is the most common tool to introduce basic concepts of lean manufacturing. The vast deployment of simulation in industry to train workers and at universities to educate students attests to this fact. However, as companies with employees scattered in different states, or universities with students logging in from several countries try to teach principles of lean manufacturing using conventional simulation, the results are less than expected. This is due to the fact that the involvement of distance students in such simulations is limited to merely viewing the action being conducted by others physically present in the classroom setting. Being restricted to the sidelines, distance students are not enthused by the potential of lean manufacturing to eliminate waste and reduce lead-time for manufacturing and non- manufacturing processes.

In this paper a method is presented which is being proposed to be implemented to create a virtual simulation to involve distance students in a hand-on manner in learning lean manufacturing principles. As this virtual simulation is conducted entirely on the computer, it can also be a good tool to train non-manufacturing process operators in optimizing their processes where the product that flows through is merely information. Lean concepts like Takt time, elimination of non-value added functions, quality-at-source, reduction of processing time, point-of-use-storage, teamwork, and kanbans, can be introduced to distance students using this virtual simulation. The tool is also ideal to introduce the concept of virtual cells in non-manufacturing processes like those found in healthcare, banking, insurance, business office functions, etc.


Lean manufacturing is one management practice that is sweeping the industry1,2,3. Most educational programs in manufacturing engineering and engineering technology have created or adopted a product that can be produced in a manufacturing-simulated environment to bring home the principles of lean manufacturing in the class room and industrial training room settings. Several consulting companies have also developed products of their own. One popular program4 developed by the National Institute of Standards (NIST) consists of using two different circuit board assemblies to simulate two different lines of products as shown in Figure 1.


A B C E A B C D E D 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5

Figure 1. Lean Simulation Products—Blue Avenger and Red Devil

Mehta, M., & Monroe, R. (2006, June), Teaching Lean Manufacturing On A Distance Learning Platform Using Virtual Simulation Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--8

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