UW-Madison EPD Course Helps Nercon

photo of Jeff Oelke
Jeff Oelke, program director

MADISON, Wis. – UW Communications featured EPD Program Director Jeff Oelke yesterday after his certificate of Lean Operations Management inspired improvement at Nercon, Inc., a local Wisconsin manufacturing company.

Leaders Daniel Bickel and James Nerenhausen Jr. decided Nercon needed to change its production of complex conveyor belts manufactured for food industry companies. Nercon produced any type of conveyor a company requested, but this led to higher costs in raw material, floor space, design time and labor.

“Now we manufacture everything to demand,” Bickel told David Tenenbaum in the UW Communications feature. “So we got rid of all this waste associated with inventory, including material, labor and floor space.”

Bickel and Nerenhausen accomplished this using techniques taught by Oelke in his six-course certificate program at UW-Madison Engineering Professional Development. The Lean Operations Management Certificate focuses on methods like Six Sigma, lean, the theory of constraints and Quick Response Manufacturing.

Nercon leaders said they immediately implemented Oelke’s first step of the program, known as “5S” where, if each of the elements is maintained, will help a company accomplish more with less waste.

The 5S’s outline 5 simple and standard guidelines for a company and its employees to follow.

  • Sort
  • Set-In-Order
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

Oelke believes that implementing common sense practices can be difficult and is just one aspect to streamlining a company.

“As the Nercon example shows, leadership at the top is essential,” Oelke told Tenenbaum.


Source and Photo Credit: David Tenenbaum/UW Communications