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IE students' capstone project improves efficiency at NASDAQ-100 company
August 27, 2021
By
Stephen Greenwell

Five students from the Industrial Engineering Department at the Cullen College of Engineering helped to improve operations by analyzing washer and dryer performance at Cintas, a NASDAQ-100 and S&P 500 company, as part of their capstone project this year.

Cullen College of Engineering students – and now graduates – Eduardo Alba von Buren, Kenny Kiser, Jobin Mathew, Athul Johnson and Loc Ngo presented “Data Analysis of Equipment Maintenance and Dashboard Improvement” to Cintas as part of the group's capstone project. The goal of their research was to look at the workload, maintenance logs and downtime for three brands of washers and dryers used at Cintas facilities, as well as the data collection methods.

“We were tasked to analyze the data of maintenance activity of three different brands of industrial washers and dryers,” Alba said. “The main goal was to try to find different trends in the performance of these brands by looking at the amount of corrective and preventive work they required, as well as the labor hours spent working on these. By finding and comparing the trends between each brand, we wanted to find out if one brand was performing better than the other, or if one brand was consuming more resources than the other, like breaking down more often and having more labor hours spent on fixing the breakdown.”

The work by the students found real performance differences between the three brands of industrial washers and dryers – as much as $170,000 in labor costs during the last 5 years, based on nine datasets of washer and dryer performance, three for each brand. The students also highlighted the need for more robust and consistent data collection .

“In order to do the analysis, we developed different graphs and dashboards that could illustrate this data in a more efficient way, in order to find the trends mentioned before and for them to be used to analyze future data,” Alba said.

Alba noted that the feedback they received from the professionals at Cintas that they presented to was very positive. Since then, he has also been hired into their trainee program.

“They mentioned that we went above and beyond expectations with the project and were able to give them a deep dive into statistics they had not considered before,” Alba said. “We found the experience to be very positive for our professional growth, since we had the chance to explain the results of our work to the experts.”

Randal Sitton, Ph.D., is an Instructional Associate Professor in the Industrial Engineering Department and served as the faculty advisor for the capstone project.

“Our course was online due to Covid, but Dr. Sitton took the time to set up Microsoft Team calls on key dates to make sure we were progressing with the project at the required pace,” Alba said. “Whenever we explained a current task or problem, he would advise us on how to proceed, or tell us where we could find resources, whether it was from a textbook or a professor. He also gave us tips on how to be and act professionally in front of the project sponsors, and made himself available for additional meetings if we ever needed one.”

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