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Background in Lean Manufacturing

In addition to a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering (Emphasis; Behavior of Metals); the President of WA Technology, Jerry Uttrachi, also holds a Masters of Science Degree in Engineering Management from the Industrial Engineering Department at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

In his graduate degree programs, he focused in Statistical Techniques and Manufacturing Engineering; courses including:

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Advanced Management Engineering

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Managerial Economics

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Industrial Costing and Managerial Control

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Engineering Reliability

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Vector and Tensor Analysis

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Statistical Design of Experiments

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Advanced Analytical Engineering Statistics

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Statistical Inference

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Design of an Enterprise (welded aluminum boats)

In addition he has attended a number of related courses while in industry including the following:

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Louis Allen: Planning, Organizing, Leading & Controlling

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Reliability and Maintainability by Dorian Shannen (AMA)

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MRP/Costing by Ollie White (Ollie White & Associates)  [Attended this Management Overview Course given personally by Ollie White -considered the father of Materials Requirements Planning.  After working within this manufacturing system for a number of years I now understand that this approach was based on a very poor assumption!]

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MRP II (R.D. Garwood, Inc)

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Achieving Process Improvements Through Activity Based Analysis (National Association of Accountants)

TEAM TRAINING techniques were reinforced in the following courses:

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Team Training Skills (Cornelius)

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Team Training Management Update (Don Lyttle)

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Team Skills (AWS)

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Conflict Management (AWS Colloquium)

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Quality Quest Leadership (FDTC)

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Business Leadership (FDTC)

Additional Experiences:

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As a Senior Manager, Mr. Uttrachi participated in the expenditure of over 1 million dollars with DeWolff Boberg and Associates, Management Consultants.  They worked closely with the production team and hourly workforce and saved well over the expenditure.  Each of the work teams would report results summaries to the senior management team.  The analytical approach learned and used by many of the hourly workforce was impressive.

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While Welding Materials and Process Laboratory Manager the charter included Manufacturing Development.  We worked closely with two manufacturing plants developing innovative techniques and procedures to improve quality (including developing a simple test production workers used to define MIG welding wire cleanliness and maintaining chemical cleaning tank quality,)  reduce rework and scrap and develop new manufacturing procedures.  Statistical techniques were used to answer the question often asked throughout by Production Managers (often those involved in welding fabrication)…”But it was working fine yesterday and we did not change anything!”  (The answer often is, "You may not have a made a significant change but the manufacturing (or welding) process variables were far-off centerline and you were close to a disaster!")

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Participated in a complete change in a production operation to Cellular Manufacturing.  Gave hundreds of tours of the facility an encouraged discussions with hourly work force.  It's of interest to see their perspective of why the Cellular Manufacturing was much better than the previous MRP driven system. Benefits were very significant, including a substantial increase in product quality and decrease of work in progress.  Outsourced a number of raw material supplies to in-house vendors and watched while they managed inventory of their products far better than we had, often decreasing total amounts by 80%!  The production workers relayed to the visitors how frustrating it was to find with the previous MRP system a $5000 item being assembled was missing the proper bolt!  With Cellular Manufacturing a representative from a hardware supply company kept all fastener bins at each cell filled with several days needs.  Instead of having thousands of fasteners we didn't need in stock (because the sales force didn't forecast the future) we had much less of only the correct inventory.

REDUCED INVENTORY:

After switching to cellular manufacturing I gave many tours to executives from local and industries considering coming to town. My boss, the CEO, would join and was always great about listening to the hourly workers discuss the benefits. However one area where he couldn't help himself was when I would stop at our newly added company supplying all our brass and copper raw materials. They had a caged area where they installed inventory they owned. Our CEO was so proud we reduced our inventory cost over 90%! Since I had conducted many tours when we used the MPR system I appreciated that the total reduction in brass and copper raw inventory between both companieswas problem over 80%! I'll explain:

We made many brass and copper parts for gas apparatus and MIG, TIG and Plasma torches etc. We had several hundred CNC and other dedicated machine tools. I would see racks of the same size brass/copper bar stock, usually 20 feet long duplicated at many stations. The managers in each area wanted to be sure they didn't run out, especially on 2nd and 3rd shift. Could not be sure what the mainframe computer that crunched data each night for the complex MPR system for the over 125,000 finished part numbers so they stocked extra would say to make! Our brass/copper supplier had a large warehouse 2 hours away from the plant. Their one person responsible for keeping sufficient stock at the work stations only needed one days reserve! He also knew extra was not needed at each work station! He placed his order on the warehouse at the end of each day and it arrived in the morning! Unlike the MRP system that relied on a sales forecast (which was always wrong!)

The same situation occurred with a number of other vendors that set up their "just in time" inventory based on real not predicted demand! Our CEO had used an MRP system when general manager in another business. He said it best, "Ollie White set US manufacturing back 10 years!"

One of our Swedish plants had operated their facility on a two bin system without the need for a computer crunching forecast demand, finding bottlenecks and defining the next days production!

With our large complex product line demand forecast was often off by 50%! In fact I had insisted the plant install some assemble to order stations when I moved to the facility with our CEO when the business was purchased from Linde! I had visited a small TIG torch manufacturer who stocked the many torch bodies based on what fit in a 25 gallon drum. He also stocked 12 1/2, 25 and 50 foot leads and assembled what was needed for an order! We were trying to stock all torch variants in each length based on a forecast! We had plenty of assembled torches in stock but always the wrong ones!

As the marketing group responsible for forecasting (with the sales force) we had the same issue with oxygen, acetylene regulators, gas torches, tips and nozzles and combined product outfits for gas apparatus. We had lots in inventory but always in the wrong package! That assemble to order area was an easy for the plant to arrange and the two gals who manned it were always on my plant tour stop! They could package what was needed from product stock and boxes in bins at their station! For high demand item numbers they soon learned what was logical to make for stock between filling orders! Logic not an inaccurate finished goods forecast was what was needed!

SIDE BAR

Recently, while touring the plant I had watched successfully switch to cellular manufacturing, the VP of Operations showed one of the cells changed to a "paced line."  Unlike the manually-moved carts used with the previous cellular manufacturing approach each power supply assembly base was placed on a slowly moving belt.  The VP mentioned being able to increase speed to increase production as skills increased. I wondered if this was not a step backward since there was no time for an individual to fix a problem or elicit the help of a fellow cell worker without stopping the whole line. Also questioned if there would be any concerns by the employees of having the speed slowly increased? I asked the VP if he had very seen Charley Chaplin's 1936 film, "Modern Times?"  He had not. It is a social comedy, exaggerating the abusive business techniques some companies practiced at the time (it included some practices reportedly being used by Ford.)  In one scene the "boss" increased the speed of the assembly line making it impossible for the workers to keep up.  There was a similar "I Love Lucy" TV show where Lucy and Ethel were working in a candy factory where the "boss" increased the belt speed transferring the candy to packaging to such a speed that they had to stuff candy in their mouth to keep up!  Although both are funny, unfortunately some believe companies exploit workers using similar techniques.  It is my experience if that occurs the company does not last long! 

I also watched as the company who built my fiberglass Street Rod body switched from one person building the whole body at individual work stations to an assembly  line where workers only did a specific part.  Less skill was required for the segmented work, but the job was not as rewarding.  Quality suffered.

Ultimately eliminating inefficiencies is the job of management and workers to remain completive and assure both have a viable future.  In fact the workers, who live every day with the process, usually have the best ideas for improvement.   Suggest watching "Modern Times" (which is available free to watch on the net) to understand some of the thinking of the 1930's recession.  It has similarities to what some folks are expressing in our 2010-2011 "recession" where they say they are being exploited by "rich" bosses!

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