Lean manufacturing is a production strategy that involves eliminating waste and unnecessary work to improve customer satisfaction, profitability and worker morale, according to Rockford Consulting Group in Illinois. This concept, which derives from the Toyota Production System, allows manufacturing team assemblers to rotate through different tasks instead of sticking to just one task in the traditional assembly line system, for example, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. This strategy essentially improves productivity and helps companies deal more effectively with worker absences, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Multiple undergraduate and graduate degree programs incorporate lean manufacturing concepts.
Individuals interested in studying lean manufacturing can complete a bachelor's degree in business administration or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a focus on lean manufacturing, according to the University of Michigan-Flint and Kettering University in Michigan. While the University of Michigan-Flint offers core MBA degree program courses, specific MBA concentration courses in lean manufacturing are offered through Kettering University. Students in these types of lean manufacturing-focused business administration programs learn concepts such as handling automotive supply chain issues. In addition, classes cover planning quality systems for zero defects and lean production improvement metrics.
Business administration degree programs combine lean manufacturing classes with regular business management courses such as marketing management, financial management, business economics and organizational behavior. Master's degree programs additionally require an original research thesis or capstone project. Master's degree programs typically take about two years to complete, while bachelor's degree programs require four years of study.
Lean manufacturing is an important concept covered in bachelor's and master's degree programs in the areas of advanced manufacturing and enterprise engineering as well, according to the University of Texas at San Antonio. In these programs, students study lean performance measures; lean supply chain design and management; and lean implementation guidelines. They also learn about Six Sigma, which is a methodology developed by Motorola that aims to eliminate defects and product variations to improve product quality, according to iSixSigma.com.
Manufacturing/engineering degree programs combine classes in lean manufacturing areas with courses on topics such as computer-integrated manufacturing, robotics, information technology, information-systems design and production-operations management. Engineering focuses on innovation--developing new methods of analysis and solutions for complex design problems, according to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Master's degree programs in this field require students to complete a thesis or special research project.
Engineering technology undergraduate or graduate degree programs also allow students to focus on lean manufacturing and Six Sigma concepts, according to St. Petersburg College in Florida, which offers a two-year associate degree in this area. These types of degree programs offer study options in areas such as electronics, digital design/modeling and biomedical systems and teach how lean manufacturing principles apply in these specialty areas of engineering technology.
As opposed to the innovative focus of engineering, engineering technology focuses more on implementation--using the applied aspects of science and engineering to help solve technical and design problems for the benefit of humans, according to Northeastern University in Massachusetts and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Engineering technology program graduates can work in product design, testing and technical services.
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