Students learn to lean

A Saint John company’s need to improve its processes provided New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) Students with an excellent opportunity to improve their mechanical engineering skills.

Bourque Industrial, a company that does custom fabrication of carbon steel, stainless steel, nickel alloy and aluminum — both new parts and repairs — approached NBCC for help improving productivity and efficiency. The company’s systems hadn’t kept up with growth and expansion over a number of years. After discussions with Bourque’s CEO, engineering technology instructor Bill Chamberlain saw an opportunity to turn the company’s problems into applied research projects for mechanical engineering technology students at the college’s Saint John campus.

Two projects were developed to align with the competency requirements of the lean manufacturing course. The first project was to apply lean manufacturing techniques to Bourque’s fabrication shop to increase productivity while reducing the space used. The second project applied lean manufacturing techniques to Bourque’s project management.

The students worked directly with the company, with Chamberlain available as their technical advisor. He says the work adds value to what they’ve learned in the course: “It allows them to get a hands-on experience applying lean manufacturing techniques in a real-life situation.”

Bourque CEO Rick MacMichael called the projects a win-win situation “where the students get to apply their education to a real manufacturing situation and we receive the benefit of their lean manufacturing techniques, improving overall productivity in the shop.”

Industry: Manufacturing
Partner(s): Bourque Industrial
Funded by: National Research Council - Industrial Research Assistant Program

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