Students help company increase efficiency

[Photo By: Tyler Brown] An employee at Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center uses a scanner designed by students of WSU.
When their professor asked for volunteers for a senior project, Clyde Conley, Chris White and Zachary Lowder offered to take it on. The project was to solve the efficiency problem that the Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation

Center was having.

“We have developed a relationship with Weber over the past few years from some other projects,” said Jim Crosby, director of operations at PARC, a company that gives jobs to people with disabilities.

Before this project, PARC also turned to Weber State University to have its manuals translated to Spanish.

“Zach and I both had experience with logistics, so it was something we were familiar with and inventory control systems,” Conley said. “We did not think it would be very hard; we were looking for something easy, but it turned out not to be easy.”

Conley said the project was harder than they anticipated because they had a budget of less than $4,000, when basic inventory control systems cost about $15,000 to create. To solve this problem, the group did an abundant amount of research. They looked at similar inventory control systems and also looked at the way PARC operated.

White followed one of the drivers around to see how he did his job and what improvements could be made. He was also able to see the driver use a handheld scanner for the first time after the group created it.

“It was fun to see him use it and ride along with him and to be able to not only fix the problem, but to actually associate with them and socialize,” White said.

Most of the money they used was given to them by the Alan E. and Jeanne N. Hall Endowment for Community Outreach Grant. They were one of five groups to receive money from this grant during the fall 2011 semester. PARC also contributed some money.

“We were making sure we were making something they would utilize, that was efficient for them,” Conley said. “They are the customer, so we wanted to make sure that the final product was something that they would not only want, but they would use.”

The PARC driver who delivers paper products to Hill Air Force Base can now scan each of the boxes that are sent out with the handheld scanner the group produced. The boxes will be scanned and the information entered into a computer, as well as the locations where the box is going.

“. . . I can tell exactly how much photo paper they are using in that building every week or paper towels,” Crosby said. “That helps me on my ordering, so I don’t over-order or under-order. I can look at if there is a large amount of photo paper being used that week, there might be pilfering that I need to deal with.”

The group also created a program on the laptops, so the drivers can just upload the information they have scanned. The information is then uploaded onto an Excel spreadsheet, making it easier to get reports.

The inventory control system the group created helped increase the productivity of PARC. Before the system, the employees were doing everything manually, which could lead to errors or miscalculations.

“It’s awesome, because that is what we intended to do in the first place,” White said. “The fact that it is working for them is awesome.”