Helping Georgia’s Rural Hospitals

With support from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, the Enterprise Innovation Institute is helping Georgia’s rural hospitals learn lean techniques that improve patient care and reduce costs. Shown is Nancy Peed, CEO of Peach Regional Medical Center in Fort Valley.

To improve customer satisfaction, enhance the quality of services and reduce costs, Peach Regional Medical Center has worked with the Georgia Institute of Technology to adopt process improvement techniques traditionally used by the manufacturing industry. Already, Peach Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department has noted a 20 percent decrease in average length of stay for its patients.

“The bulk of our patients come through the emergency room, and people judge the care by how quickly they are seen and treated,” said Nancy Peed, CEO of Peach Regional Medical Center. “Peach Regional Medical Center provides care for 15,000 patients each year in our emergency department, and this volume continues to increase. That demand, coupled with an undersized and aging emergency department facility, means of course that we have throughput issues, and we are working diligently to manage and improve these issues.”

Earlier this year, Peed became aware of an initiative led by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute to help train rural hospital staff in lean principles that identify waste in processes and find ways to eliminate it, while improving customer and staff satisfaction. The project is funded by a $349,000 grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation. Georgia Tech has successfully used the approach with hospitals in Athens, Atlanta, Columbus, Newnan and Vidalia, and its training programs have been licensed for use nationwide by the American Hospital Association.

Matt Haynes, a Georgia Tech lean specialist, began the project by leading Peach Regional staff in lean overview training. Teams of six people from the medical center then developed value stream maps – diagrams of the entire patient admitting and discharge process – for both the medical surgical nursing and emergency departments.

“We identified 30-day quick fixes and also began implementing 5S, a method for organizing the workplace,” recalled Chance McGough, medical surgical nurse manager and lean coordinator for Peach Regional. “We organized the ER and utility rooms, labeled everything in the supply closets and color-coded materials so they are easier to find. That has helped facilitate flow through the ER because we spend less time looking for things and more time taking care of patients.”

In addition to the lean implementation, senior management at Peach Regional attended a Disney Institute workshop in Atlanta titled “Common Sense to Common Practice: Lessons for Healthcare.” Topics included how to improve the patient experience and motivate health care staff while delivering top-notch health care service, an imperative in a state where approximately 85 percent of hospitals are operating at a loss, Peed said. This training was also funded by the Healthcare Georgia Foundation grant.

“If we can come up with ways from within of doing things quicker, more efficiently and with less duplication, we’re ahead of the game and we can be even more successful and provide even better care to our patients,” noted Peed. “It’s not good enough to meet customer needs; you have to exceed them every time.”

Rural hospitals in Georgia face a financial crisis because their patients are less likely than those of metropolitan hospitals to have health insurance. At the same time, hospitals in underserved areas face other competitive disadvantages as they confront rising costs.

“The current recession has impacted the rural hospitals more so than those in metro Atlanta,” Haynes noted. “Improving the process of how patients are seen is having a positive impact on both patient treatment and the hospital’s profit.”

Such facilities need to find sustainable ways to become more efficient, which is why Healthcare Georgia Foundation provided the grant to Georgia Tech. In addition to Peach Regional Medical Center, hospitals participating in the program include Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Monroe County Hospital in Forsyth, Morgan Memorial Hospital in Madison, Banks-Jackson-Commerce Hospital in Commerce, West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange, and Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe.

The projects are expected to be completed by June 2010.

About Healthcare Georgia Foundation: Healthcare Georgia Foundation is a statewide, private independent foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities. Through its strategic grant-making, Healthcare Georgia Foundation supports organizations that drive positive change, promotes programs that improve health and healthcare among underserved individuals and communities, and connects people, partners and resources across Georgia. For more information, please visit the Foundation online at (www.healthcaregeorgia.org).

About the Enterprise Innovation Institute: The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation. For more information, visit (www.innovate.gatech.edu).

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Central Georgia Engineer Wins National Manufacturing Assistance Award

The U.S. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) has named Alan Barfoot “Practitioner of the Year,” one of only four chosen nationwide. Barfoot, the central Georgia region manager with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, accepted the award at MEP’s recent conference in Orlando, Fla.

MEP – part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology – is a national network of not-for-profit centers in nearly 400 locations that helps U.S. manufacturers compete globally by strengthening supply chains and increasing productivity. The practitioner award recognizes individuals whose leadership and contributions have made a significant economic impact on small- and medium-sized manufacturers, advanced industrial technology development and improved the competitiveness of American manufacturers.

“Alan has spent the duration of his career with Georgia Tech in rural middle Georgia where he has developed and demonstrated a passion for manufacturing and economic development,” said Chris Downing, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which is part of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute. “Alan has always demonstrated zeal for serving clients, learning new processes, transferring knowledge and, most importantly, doing the right thing.”

Barfoot, who holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech and an M.B.A. from the University of South Carolina, has been with Georgia Tech since 1989. He currently works as the central Georgia region manager for the Enterprise Innovation Institute where he provides technical assistance to manufacturers, assists community developers with infrastructure assessments and planning, partners with other educational institutions and government agencies and mentors professional staff and co-op students. He has expertise in economic development, ISO 9000, business assessments, industrial site location and development, lean manufacturing and new product development.

As a result of projects led by Barfoot and his team last year, clients in the central Georgia region reported more than $4.5 million in sales increases, $9.6 million in retained sales, more than $1 million in cost savings and more than $15 million in investments in facilities, information technology or workforce practices.

“This MEP award is a great recognition, not only for me, but for my staff and the bright economic future for the central Georgia region,” said Barfoot. “I am proud to be able to contribute to the impact that Georgia Tech is making in business and industry in rural Georgia.”

The Enterprise Innovation Institute helps enterprises improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. The central Georgia office serves the following counties: Baldwin, Bibb, Bleckley, Candler, Crawford, Dodge, Emanuel, Evans, Houston, Jeff Davis, Johnson, Jones, Laurens, Monroe, Montgomery, Peach, Pulaski, Putnam, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Twiggs, Washington, Wheeler, Wilcox and Wilkinson.

Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail: (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright


Jump-starting Growth in Glennville

Rotary Corporation, headquartered in Glennville, Ga., literally began from a car trunk when J.D. Nelson began selling replacement parts to auto parts stores and lawnmower dealers in 1956. By 1971, the company’s volume had increased to the point where Rotary began considering manufacturing its own lawnmower blades. To make an informed decision, it enlisted experts at Georgia Tech to conduct a feasibility study.

“They came back to us and suggested that we begin manufacturing lawnmower blades, so we found a company for sale in Toledo, Ohio, bought it, moved it down here and started making lawnmower blades,” recalled Ed Nelson, Rotary’s president. “I don’t know where we would be today if we hadn’t done that, because when we started manufacturing our business really started growing.”

Today, Rotary employs 450 people and delivers parts to 20,000 customers in all 50 states and more than 50 countries throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Canada, Australia and Africa.

“When my father bought the business from my great-uncle in ’66, we had seven employees and were selling $250,000 a year, and now we sell that before lunch on a good day,” Nelson said. “Last year we marked two milestones – our fiftieth year in business and our 150 millionth lawnmower blade.”

To support that growth over the years, Nelson continued to turn to Georgia Tech for assistance and guidance. Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute provides comprehensive services to improve the competitiveness of Georgia’s business and industry, including technical and engineering assistance, continuing education courses, facilitation of networks and connecting companies to Georgia Tech resources.

Since the initial feasibility study on lawnmower blade manufacturing, Rotary has tapped into nearly every service offered by the Enterprise Innovation Institute. In the mid-‘70s, Georgia Tech conducted another study to determine the best steel for blade manufacturing. Energy and environmental specialists have performed air sampling, noise monitoring, general safety audits and environmental audits, and assisted the company on better managing its energy costs.

Rotary has also thoroughly utilized Georgia Tech’s services in lean manufacturing, a process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System and known for reducing wasted time and effort. Alan Barfoot, a lean specialist and central Georgia region manager with the Enterprise Innovation Institute, led Rotary staff in a lean overview, helping participants learn the principles of lean manufacturing and how to apply them.

During a series of simulations, they applied lean concepts such as standardized work, visual signals, batch-size reduction and pull systems, among others. They experienced how lean improves quality, reduces cycle time, improves delivery performance and reduces work-in-process. The team also developed value stream maps – diagrams used to analyze the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer – to determine Rotary’s current and future states. Nelson estimates that Rotary’s available warehouse space increased by 20 percent as a result of these projects.

“When Georgia Tech has a long-term relationship with a client like Rotary, there is better synergy between us and the company,” noted Barfoot. “We are much more familiar with the business and are able to be a more valuable set of outside eyes to provide feedback.”

In 2007, the Enterprise Innovation Institute – through the U.S. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) – began offering a program to help Georgia companies develop new strategies for growth. “Eureka! Winning Ways®,” an award-winning three-step process that includes idea engineering, success screening and action-plan coaching, was developed by Doug Hall, former master marketing inventor with Procter & Gamble and former host of the ABC television series American Inventor.

Eureka helps companies assess how to best jump-start growth through innovative and creative ideas. Projects, which are led by Georgia Tech experts who have been certified in the Eureka Ranch techniques, examine how companies can establish more effective marketing messages, capture new customers or markets, and develop new products, services or business models. In fall 2007, Rotary was invited to Eureka Ranch, Hall’s headquarters in Newtown, Ohio.

“We took 12 people from Rotary’s management team, sales people and trusted advisors to Eureka Ranch and we did the project from there. Doug Hall and his team were there, so we got to be in that environment,” recalled Bob Wray, a Georgia Tech project manager and Eureka specialist. “We went through the ideation day – a disciplined system for thinking smarter and more creatively about old and new ideas for top-line growth – and then tried to figure out which projects were worth pursuing. We came up with more than 150 ideas.”

Following the idea generation, the group refined and rewrote the top 12 ideas, and then senior management selected four to go into idea testing. That testing took place in the second phase of Eureka, which assesses ideas using Merwyn Research, a software program that evaluates the group’s ideas based on other ideas’ successes. The software generates a score for each idea and, based on that information, the client chooses two ideas on which to focus.

The third phase of Eureka – TrailBlazer – is a 30-day research-intensive coaching process to make a decision on whether to develop the two ideas. If the decision is “yes,” the idea will proceed into a development phase. Over time, the goal is for the company to have a continuous “idea pipeline,” with ideas in different stages of incubation and development.

“We saw a need for improvements on lawnmower blades within the industry, and we’re currently in the process of developing a unique blade,” Nelson noted. “However, that doesn’t happen overnight; it involves a lot of testing. Eureka really got us up and going with that project.”

Another project that was immediately identified by the Eureka process was an information technology project that remedied the problem of Rotary’s computer system being down during back-up. Now, the ordering system is always accessible, a big improvement for Rotary’s European customers in particular.

“The biggest advantage to Eureka is establishing a pipeline of ideas. With Rotary, there may have been 50 pretty good ideas out of those 150 that we identified at the Eureka Ranch. The next step was working through that list, prioritizing and executing,” said Wray. “Doug Hall says that if you’re not unique, you better be cheap. If you don’t have unique lawnmower blades, you’re selling commodities. But, if you have something no one else has, then you can charge a premium for it.”

Nelson says that Rotary has experienced a number of positive impacts as a result of the Eureka project, including $1.5 million in increased sales, $2 million in retained sales that would have otherwise been lost, 50 retained jobs and one job created. He also notes that Rotary avoided $262,000 in unnecessary investments as a result of Georgia Tech’s assistance.

“Eureka really opened our eyes to other ways of doing things, and helped us to take advantage of ideas as fast as we can. We’ve got a lot more ideas now than we had in the past,” Nelson said.

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:

The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Rotary Corporation, headquartered in Glennville, Ga., literally began from a car trunk when J.D. Nelson began selling replacement parts to auto parts stores and lawnmower dealers in 1956. By 1971, the company’s volume had increased to the point where Rotary began considering manufacturing its own lawnmower blades. To make an informed decision, it enlisted experts at Georgia Tech to conduct a feasibility study.

“They came back to us and suggested that we begin manufacturing lawnmower blades, so we found a company for sale in Toledo, Ohio, bought it, moved it down here and started making lawnmower blades,” recalled Ed Nelson, Rotary’s president. “I don’t know where we would be today if we hadn’t done that, because when we started manufacturing our business really started growing.”

Today, Rotary employs 450 people and delivers parts to 20,000 customers in all 50 states and more than 50 countries throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Canada, Australia and Africa.

“When my father bought the business from my great-uncle in ’66, we had seven employees and were selling $250,000 a year, and now we sell that before lunch on a good day,” Nelson said. “Last year we marked two milestones – our fiftieth year in business and our 150 millionth lawnmower blade.”

To support that growth over the years, Nelson continued to turn to Georgia Tech for assistance and guidance. Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute provides comprehensive services to improve the competitiveness of Georgia’s business and industry, including technical and engineering assistance, continuing education courses, facilitation of networks and connecting companies to Georgia Tech resources.

Since the initial feasibility study on lawnmower blade manufacturing, Rotary has tapped into nearly every service offered by the Enterprise Innovation Institute. In the mid-‘70s, Georgia Tech conducted another study to determine the best steel for blade manufacturing. Energy and environmental specialists have performed air sampling, noise monitoring, general safety audits and environmental audits, and assisted the company on better managing its energy costs.

Rotary has also thoroughly utilized Georgia Tech’s services in lean manufacturing, a process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System and known for reducing wasted time and effort. Alan Barfoot, a lean specialist and central Georgia region manager with the Enterprise Innovation Institute, led Rotary staff in a lean overview, helping participants learn the principles of lean manufacturing and how to apply them.

During a series of simulations, they applied lean concepts such as standardized work, visual signals, batch-size reduction and pull systems, among others. They experienced how lean improves quality, reduces cycle time, improves delivery performance and reduces work-in-process. The team also developed value stream maps – diagrams used to analyze the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer – to determine Rotary’s current and future states. Nelson estimates that Rotary’s available warehouse space increased by 20 percent as a result of these projects.

“When Georgia Tech has a long-term relationship with a client like Rotary, there is better synergy between us and the company,” noted Barfoot. “We are much more familiar with the business and are able to be a more valuable set of outside eyes to provide feedback.”

In 2007, the Enterprise Innovation Institute – through the U.S. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) – began offering a program to help Georgia companies develop new strategies for growth. “Eureka! Winning Ways®,” an award-winning three-step process that includes idea engineering, success screening and action-plan coaching, was developed by Doug Hall, former master marketing inventor with Procter & Gamble and former host of the ABC television series American Inventor.

Eureka helps companies assess how to best jump-start growth through innovative and creative ideas. Projects, which are led by Georgia Tech experts who have been certified in the Eureka Ranch techniques, examine how companies can establish more effective marketing messages, capture new customers or markets, and develop new products, services or business models. In fall 2007, Rotary was invited to Eureka Ranch, Hall’s headquarters in Newtown, Ohio.

“We took 12 people from Rotary’s management team, sales people and trusted advisors to Eureka Ranch and we did the project from there. Doug Hall and his team were there, so we got to be in that environment,” recalled Bob Wray, a Georgia Tech project manager and Eureka specialist. “We went through the ideation day – a disciplined system for thinking smarter and more creatively about old and new ideas for top-line growth – and then tried to figure out which projects were worth pursuing. We came up with more than 150 ideas.”

Following the idea generation, the group refined and rewrote the top 12 ideas, and then senior management selected four to go into idea testing. That testing took place in the second phase of Eureka, which assesses ideas using Merwyn Research, a software program that evaluates the group’s ideas based on other ideas’ successes. The software generates a score for each idea and, based on that information, the client chooses two ideas on which to focus.

The third phase of Eureka – TrailBlazer – is a 30-day research-intensive coaching process to make a decision on whether to develop the two ideas. If the decision is “yes,” the idea will proceed into a development phase. Over time, the goal is for the company to have a continuous “idea pipeline,” with ideas in different stages of incubation and development.

“We saw a need for improvements on lawnmower blades within the industry, and we’re currently in the process of developing a unique blade,” Nelson noted. “However, that doesn’t happen overnight; it involves a lot of testing. Eureka really got us up and going with that project.”

Another project that was immediately identified by the Eureka process was an information technology project that remedied the problem of Rotary’s computer system being down during back-up. Now, the ordering system is always accessible, a big improvement for Rotary’s European customers in particular.

“The biggest advantage to Eureka is establishing a pipeline of ideas. With Rotary, there may have been 50 pretty good ideas out of those 150 that we identified at the Eureka Ranch. The next step was working through that list, prioritizing and executing,” said Wray. “Doug Hall says that if you’re not unique, you better be cheap. If you don’t have unique lawnmower blades, you’re selling commodities. But, if you have something no one else has, then you can charge a premium for it.”

Nelson says that Rotary has experienced a number of positive impacts as a result of the Eureka project, including $1.5 million in increased sales, $2 million in retained sales that would have otherwise been lost, 50 retained jobs and one job created. He also notes that Rotary avoided $262,000 in unnecessary investments as a result of Georgia Tech’s assistance.

“Eureka really opened our eyes to other ways of doing things, and helped us to take advantage of ideas as fast as we can. We’ve got a lot more ideas now than we had in the past,” Nelson said.

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:

The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 100

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contacts: Nancy Fullbright (404-894-2214); E-mail: (email hidden; JavaScript is required) or John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Lean Manufacturing Takes Flight at Vought Aircraft

Merlin Fechner, general manager of Vought Aircraft’s Milledgeville, Ga. facility, describes continuous improvement as a journey in which there is no end. In 2006, the aerospace industry supplier sought assistance from Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute with its lean management principles, a set of tools widely used in manufacturing to help identify and steadily eliminate waste from an organization’s operations.

“As part of the continuous improvement journey, it’s good to get outside eyes to come in and look at what we’ve been doing for a really long time,” Fechner said. “The lean specialists at Georgia Tech are seasoned veterans who have been in manufacturing and understand it, and they did a really great job for us.”

Alan Barfoot, the central Georgia region manager for the Enterprise Innovation Institute, along with lean specialists Danny Duggar, Paul Todd and Bob Wray, visited the 610,000-square-foot facility to determine how the company could maximize efficiency. Vought Aircraft employs 550 people in Milledgeville – including 350 highly skilled mechanics – who make parts for aerospace companies such as Boeing, Airbus, Northrop Grumman, Gulfstream and Sikorsky. Last year, Vought’s Milledgeville site business profile was 65 percent commercial and 35 percent military.

Led by the Georgia Tech team, Vought employees learned about lean concepts such as standardized work, visual signals, batch-size reduction and pull systems, among others. They also experienced how lean improves quality, reduces cycle time, improves delivery performance, and reduces work-in-process and inventory.

The team also conducted a week-long kaizen event on the CF6 translating cowl, part of an aircraft’s thrust reverser. Kaizen, or rapid improvement, is a focused activity on a particular process or activity that identifies and quickly removes waste. The team developed value stream maps, which are diagrams used to analyze the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer.

“CF6 translating cowls are acoustically treated, so they act like a muffler when they’re landing to reduce the noise. That’s a special proprietary process for Vought,” noted Steve Comer, Vought’s industrial engineering manager. “CF6 processes start with fabrication that shapes the honeycomb core. Subsequently, the composite parts are formed in molds, heat laminated, trimmed, inspected, assembled and painted in this factory.”

In late 2007, the Georgia Tech team returned to Vought to analyze product coming into the facility for parts on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. They measured the total area, including new and existing square footage, parts and tool travel. Barfoot assisted with evaluating parts and equipment, creating databases and designing a layout for more than 1,000 different parts and multiple processes.

“They identified a lot of issues that we were able to work on and we implemented needed changes to optimize our production on the program. The teams’ engagement and enthusiasm for improvement on that product was very obvious to our customer,” observed Fechner. “As a result, we’ve now positioned ourselves to pick up the additional work, right-sized, into the value stream as we’ve laid it out with Georgia Tech.”

Fechner estimates that as a result of collaborating with Georgia Tech, Vought has significantly reduced its investment in capital expenses.

“Georgia Tech provided skilled expertise that was successful in delivering both plans and the analysis in a timely manner,” Fechner said. “This work permitted acquisition of substantial new business that will bridge us well into the future.”

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright