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MBA Students To Spend Week at Deere Headquarters, Learn about Lean Manufacturing

Students in the University of Iowa's Tippie MBA-PM program will venture outside of Iowa next week to learn more about Lean manufacturing in a weeklong Lean Academy session at Moline, Ill.-based Deere & Co.

The 30 students attend MBA for Professionals and Managers (MBA-PM) classes in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and the Quad Cities and will spend the week of June 9 at several of Deere's facilities in the Quad Cities area, said Philip C. Jones, professor of management sciences in the Tippie College of Business. There, the students will attend classes, tour a manufacturing plant and learn about the challenges and benefits of the Lean continuous improvement program from Deere executives, managers and employees.

"Deere is a leader in the use of advanced manufacturing techniques and technology to improve their development, administrative and manufacturing operations, and this class will give our students an opportunity to learn how it's done right," said Jones, whose research focus is continuous improvement processes and Lean manufacturing.

Though based in Illinois, Deere & Co. is Iowa's largest private employer with facilities in Ankeny, Davenport, Dubuque, Ottumwa and Waterloo.

This marks the fourth time the Tippie MBA-PM program has offered a weeklong Lean seminar at a corporate site. Previous sites included Rockwell Collins' operations in Cedar Rapids and at Pella Corp. in Pella, Iowa.

Lean manufacturing is a system in which companies continuously analyze their operations to trim any unnecessary processes and waste. One of the more well-known and often copied ideas that have come out of a Lean analysis is the just-in-time delivery system that keeps inventories low and reduces warehouse and storage expense. Pioneered by Toyota in the 1950s, Jones said Lean manufacturing has helped the company become the world's largest automaker.

Students participating in the Lean Academy will talk with numerous managers who oversee Deere & Co.'s many Lean initiatives, as well as with a group of workers to learn about how employees are involved in the process. The group will also meet with Max Guinn, Deere's senior vice president of manufacturing and engineering, and a union representative.

They will also tour the massive John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, Ill., for a first-hand look at how Lean principles have changed the plant's manufacturing operations.


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