Structural Concepts - Engineering Co-op Rotation #1
Employer: Structural Concepts
Job Title: Co-op Engineer / Manufacturing Engineer Intern
Major: Interdisciplinary Engineering
Received Credit: Yes
Description of the Organization
Structural concepts is a leading innovator of temperature-controlled food display cases for supermarket and foodservice operators. The company consists of around 500 employees and growing.
Description of the Tasks/Projects Completed
Over the course of my first rotation, I brought several engineering designs to life in our facilities to address issues on our manufacturing floor. My first designed part was a mobile stainless steel cover for hydraulic pumps that power lift tables on our assembly lines. This design was adopted by several lines in our facilities. From there, I practiced many different skillsets to assist our continuous improvement team with different areas of our manufacturing facilities. I collected and analyzed data of the different types of tools being used on our assembly lines. This was in an attempt to create a collective tool bag which each worker would get for use on the line due to tools often being misplaced, causing unnecessary downtime looking for the proper tool. I made an excel spreadsheet to help rethink how we organize our fastener storage area. As it was, fasteners were hard to find because they were all in boxes and out of order. I made an excel spreadsheet which served as a way to enter in descriptors of a fastener (size, color, name, description, etc..) and would then point you to the specific location of the fastener to save workers time. I designed a storage unit for rubber bumper that is used on sharp edges of our cases. This storage unit is used in multiple locations within our warehouses. I helped create a customizable workbench that served a dual purpose by also functioning as a computer stand with retractable keyboard holders and a pegboard backing. This design is currently being adopted by all areas of our warehouses and will likely be built 50-100 times. There were many more small creative design projects similar to the ones described previously. Often times, I worked on open-ended problems with no clear solution and was given creative freedom to develop a solution as I saw fit. My final and largest project was the implementation of machine data collection software in our sheet metal department. I built up all of the user-interface required to implement data collection of the causes of downtime within the department as classified by our operators. I also built up the backend of the software to ensure that the hardware collecting data within the machines was functioning and reporting properly. I worked with area leaders within sheet metal to implement this software and build a routine for using it and logging data on a daily basis. I also set up several styles of reports to use for data analysis which will then be used to tackle large issues of downtime. The software even provides us with clear cost justifications for our machines and will allow us to make better decisions in the future regarding the area.
Skills/Knowledge Gained Through The Experience
I vastly improved my creative problem-solving skills through this experience. Often times, an issue would arise on the manufacturing floor and it would become my responsibility to design a solution for this problem as quickly as possible. I gained a better understanding of the manufacturing process as a whole and the problems that can arise as well as how to manage them. This ties into developing a deeper understanding of business operations. I gained valuable experience using SolidWorks to model parts that would then undergo the process of being created using our lasers and bent via our brake presses. This ties into the valuable experience of creating and improving prototypes that I gained. I became extremely proficient with Excel spreadsheets and collecting and analyzing large chunks of data at once. I gained hands-on training with different machines throughout our facilities and extensively studied our process from the very first material being cut to the very last piece being assembled. Finally, I further developed the skills necessary to lead a project via scheduling and running meetings as well as following through with coworkers to ensure that deadlines were met and that everything was on track. Structural allowed me to take on a large role within my first few months which has been invaluable experience.
Favorite Part of the Experience
My favorite part was my work on my final project of the rotation. I scheduled and ran meetings with the highest levels of people at the company, often including the CEO. I orchestrated a coordinated effort to get data collection up and running on all of our brake presses and overall feel extremely accomplished to have played such a large role in such a large and ongoing project. I can't wait to continue my work in my second rotation as there is much to do.
How the Experience Influenced Future Career Goals
My future career goals remain the same. However, I feel as though I have gained a new respect for the manufacturing process and have come out of this rotation with invaluable experiences that not many other companies could offer.