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Working With Small Companies In Cambodia To Teach Lean Manufacturing Principles To Undergraduate Students

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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

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1457.1 - 11.1457.9



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Paper Authors

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Michael Miles Brigham Young University

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Val Hawks Brigham Young University

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

Working with Small Companies in Cambodia to Teach Lean Manufacturing Principles to Undergraduate Students

Introduction Teaching lean manufacturing in the university environment is becoming more common, with many schools in the United States offering “lean” undergraduate courses in various technology and engineering programs. This trend is driven by companies who have implemented or are trying to implement lean as a manufacturing strategy, and who prefer graduates with some level of practical lean knowledge. Our approach to teaching lean has used experiential learning as a method of improving student understanding, as many others have done in various disciplines1-4. To this end we have augmented university classroom lectures with industry-based projects, recognizing that lab exercises are useful, but can have limited utility in demonstrating lean principles5. We have used this approach for a number of years in two graduate courses. And more recently we used this method in the context of an international internship in Cambodia, during the summer of 2004. The experience gained in that internship is the focus of this paper.

Five junior and senior level students and two professors were involved in a five week project, where the first three weeks were spent gathering information about the challenges and opportunities of running a manufacturing company in Cambodia. A total of 37 companies were surveyed on a variety of topics, including the practical details of operating their businesses, of which most were small, family-run concerns. After completion of the initial three-week phase of studying the practical, social, and historical difficulties they face in this developing country, two small firms were chosen for a more in-depth study of manufacturing performance. The exercises that were carried out at these firms, and the results of evaluations conducted by 5 undergraduate students, will be discussed as a method for teaching lean manufacturing principles. Some background on the companies with whom we worked and a discussion of the business environment in Cambodia will also be provided. The entrepreneurial spirit and determination we found in these companies was a great lesson for us and our students, demonstrating that hard work and creativity can produce good results, even in difficult circumstances.

Evaluation of Manufacturing Performance: Two Small Companies Two small companies of about 40 to 50 employees were the focus of our efforts during a period of about 8 days of evaluation. This time frame proved to be a little short, because we were just beginning to gain the trust of the owners at the end of our stay. We believe another week or two of effort would have allowed us to implement some of the changes we proposed. We will present a discussion of the efforts of our students to gather and analyze data, which will be followed by a summary of the recommendations for improvement that they provided to these companies.

Miles, M., & Hawks, V. (2006, June), Working With Small Companies In Cambodia To Teach Lean Manufacturing Principles To Undergraduate Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--284

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