The benefits of lean operations have stretched beyond the manufacturing industry, and now, sectors are using the principles to improve every aspect of product and asset management.
The system has become so popular – and demand for it so high – that colleges are beginning to recognize it as a crucial industrial process, and are now offering graduate programs in lean.
According to the Holland Sentinel, Michigan's Cornerstone University is one such school, which will begin giving classes on lean in the 2013 spring semester. The school formed a partnership with Innotec and its daughter company Ventura Manufacturing to give a new generation of students the skills needed to thrive in the current industrial environment.
"Some of the leaders at Innotec approached us," said Sandra Upton, dean of business programs in Cornerstone’s professional and graduate studies division. "They are seeing the need to position themselves to build quality talent."
In the manufacturing space, which is still the most common arena for lean principles, many employers say they are having difficulty finding workers and recent graduates that have the appropriate training in lean manufacturing. Upton added that most manufacturers in the area have noted this skills gap.
"Many of them have the same challenges," she said.
According to the media outlet, the course is offered online, allowing anyone around the world to learn more about implementing lean practices into existing manufacturing settings.
"People with an MBA are getting more and more common," said Jerry Zandstra, a Cornerstone faculty member who also serves on the advisory board of Innotec. "People with an MBA in manufacturing are becoming more and more of an asset."
Upton added that the program has already attracted a strong following of students, and when it kicks off in 2013, it will have 14 students.
Cornerstone University says the decision to offer the new course was a direct response to the immense growth and partnership the school has formed with major players in the manufacturing industry.
"This MBA program is designed to provide students with a working knowledge and skill set to bolster leadership, develop business acumen, manage projects, and create efficient systems in manufacturing…" the school wrote of the course.
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