From Fixing Robotics to Reducing Emissions: Ross Students Are Solving Companies’ Most Pressing Problems in 2018


Operations is one of the fastest-moving fields in business, managing the changing relationships between raw supplies, production, distribution, and sales. It’s the data-heavy work that keeps the global economy running.

Right now, Michigan Ross students are getting real-world operational experience at some of the world’s biggest companies through the Tauber Institute for Global Operations. Tauber is a multidisciplinary operations program that brings together students from Ross and the College of Engineering in a cross-learning environment. Additionally, students participate in operations-related, paid summer internships.

Companies also benefit from the program. Last year alone, Tauber summer projects saved companies more than $575 million per company estimates.

Check out a few of this year’s projects:

Reducing Carbon Emissions

The Takeaway:
Ross and engineering students are working with the Pepsi Beverage Co.’s sustainability team to reduce global carbon emissions and energy costs associated with its Gatorade processing lines.

The Technical Details:
Students are analyzing past process and equipment upgrades, developing new improvement opportunities, and potentially piloting modifications in Pepsi’s Atlanta bottling plant. The students are also working to standardize any best practices to allow for implementation in other lines and sites across Pepsi North America.

Helping Robots Work More Effectively

The Takeaway:
Whirlpool has invested heavily in using robotics throughout their manufacturing facilities, but it’s not without challenges. Tauber students are helping Whirlpool make the end-of-arm-tool (EOAT) more reliable in its ability to grasp, place, and assemble products.

The Technical Details:
Whirlpool is considering adding another product to the robot to help it work better. The students are evaluating market offerings to identify which are ideal to make, developing a business case highlighting potential impacts and tradeoffs, and creating a decision framework for design and implementation.

Mayo Clinic
Standardizing Supply Carts for Medical Procedures

The Takeaway:
Medical professionals need the correct supplies on hand for procedures. Supply carts are stocked with these items, but not consistently — stock varies widely between clinics and physicians. Students are helping better organize these items, called “case cart formularies,” which are vital for patient safety and care at the Mayo Clinic’s Heart Rhythm and Cath labs.

The Technical Details:
Students are analyzing the different case cart formularies, including the tools, equipment, and medications, used by different physicians and clinics in their labs, as well as the specific formularies needed for particular procedures. They’re also creating standards to minimize cost, maintain quality, and meet stakeholder requirements.

General Mills
Preventing Product Waste

The Takeaway:
Students are helping General Mills better determine which new products are most in-demand in order to prevent product waste and improve customer satisfaction.

The Technical Details:
General Mills strives to deliver new Special Pack (SPPK) products to its customers, but fluctuations in demand disrupt the supply chain and lower the overall customer service level. A Tauber student team is reviewing the SPPK forecasting and ordering processes in order to identify any potential gaps and redundancies in the system. The students are developing new forecasting methods and defining key performance indicators to support the company’s rapidly growing SPPK business.

See more impressive Tauber projects this summer