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ASK, University Partner for Lean Six Sigma

Feb. 18, 2020
Undergrad course will study and implement collaborative process-improvement, to eliminate ceramic-filter manufacturing problems, remove waste and inefficiency, and improve workplace conditions and safety.

Foundry chemicals and consumables developer ASK Chemicals LLC partnered with Alfred University in a "Lean Six Sigma" project, to improve efficiencies and promote operational-safety compliance. Lean Six Sigma is a collaborative process-improvement methodology that concentrates on eliminating problems, removing waste and inefficiency, and improving working conditions to provide a better response to customers' needs.

Alfred University in Alfred, NY, is private, non-sectarian institution with state-sponsored programs in engineering and art and design. The partnership with ASK Chemicals launched on February 11, 2020, and will continue through the remainder of the semester.

Instructor Amanda Jadwin's ENGR400-01 Manufacturing Statistics class toured ASK Chemicals' ceramic filter manufacturing operation in Alfred as part of an academic focus on Lean Six Sigma methods, and how those methods may benefit industrial organization. The class also participated with ASK in a Lean Six Sigma project that seeks to improve efficiencies as well as safety.

ASK Chemicals has been producing ceramic filters at the New York plant since 1981, an effort started by three Alfred University graduate students. Metal filtration is critical to metalcasting — especially investment casting — to ensure that impurities are removed, metal flow-rates are controlled, and overall quality of castings improves.

The plant has 90 workers and produces more than 3 million filters annually, with global distribution.

The class will be creating a project charter, performing process mapping exercises, compiling data into reportable metrics, and conducting a failure-mode effects analysis. Then, the class will propose improvement opportunities to ASK Chemicals to be incorporated into their manufacturing processes.

To complete these tasks the class is structured into hands-on time at ASK Chemicals and in-class lectures. The course final exam will be the Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification Exam through the International Assn. of Six Sigma Certification (IASSC.) Yellow-belt certification is a professional certificate that individuals may list on resumes, highlighting the value of Alfred University's Engineering curricula.