Q+A with Bill Herrmann, Vice President, Productivity Solutions
You lead Ghafari’s Productivity Solutions team, part of our Process Engineering Group. What kind of work does this team do?
At a high level, we’re focused on generating value for our clients by developing and implementing lean solutions. Our Productivity Solutions team consists of industrial, manufacturing, and packaging engineers. Our services really run the full spectrum, beginning with the more traditional type of industrial engineering in which we work with our clients to develop processes and labor analyses. We also provide productivity improvement services, conceptual facility planning, and very comprehensive materials management services. We collaborate with our clients to develop processes and systems that efficiently manage the flow of material through their facilities, from receiving to storage to lineside delivery to product shipment and return of empty containers to the supply chain.
On the packaging side, we offer program management services for the design, development, fabrication, and delivery of containers, typically in support of our clients’ new product programs. This involves managing design, prototyping, testing, and delivery of container fleets, while also coordinating a large number of customer and supplier personnel, and providing change management throughout the entire process. Containers range from standard totes / bins to custom trays to shipping and sequencing racks. Packaging can play a huge role in creating value for a client. Effective packaging can decrease product damage, facilitate lean material movement, and reduce transportation costs.
How do these capabilities generate value for our manufacturing clients?
Our services are ultimately focused on positively impacting our client’s bottom line, whether it be by improving their product quality, boosting productivity and minimizing waste to reduce their operational costs, or speeding their time to market, all while keeping the safety of their operations and facilities at the forefront of our solutions.
How does our process engineering expertise enhance our architectural engineering service offering?
Ideally, we have the opportunity to apply our process engineering expertise before our architectural design is ever developed. Our goal is to ensure that our client’s facility is the proper size, shape, and configuration so that form ultimately follows function. We provide the conceptual facility plan so the space is properly sized to facilitate efficient process and material flow, with the proper positioning of process areas and ancillary functions such as entryways, docks, etc. Our Equipment Solutions Group can also determine the process equipment requirements and their associated utility needs. When complete, we can then wrap the building design around the concept, confident that it will meet our client’s needs.
We have successfully integrated our process and facility design services on a number of recent projects, including a new paint shop for Polaris Industries, several production facilities for Woodward, Inc., and a manufacturing plant for Universal Trailer.
What are you working on right now?
In recent months, our team has been working on some exciting productivity-centric projects with clients such as General Motors, Ford, Tesla, Fiat Chrysler, John Deere, Penske, Detroit Manufacturing Systems, Ellison Bakery, Auburn University’s Poultry Science Department, and Forgotten Harvest.
How has technology influenced the way that manufacturing spaces are planned today?
Data analytics has had a significant impact on the services we provide. Today’s technology has given us access to much more data than ever before. Our ability to analyze this data, through both commercial and our own in-house technology tools, has allowed us to develop a higher level of data-driven solutions. It removes the emotion and speculation of subjective analysis and instills greater confidence in our recommendations to our clients.
Outside of manufacturing, what are some other sectors that can benefit from process engineering services?
One that certainly comes to mind is healthcare, which continues to be a growing market for our company. Many of the lean principles that we apply to our automotive / manufacturing projects have a definite application in the healthcare space, where process efficiencies are also critical to sound operations and a positive overall patient experience. We’ve recently had opportunities to apply our integrated process and facility services to some of our projects in the healthcare sector. Just about any operations-driven industry can benefit from our engineering services and lean approach.
Give us five adjectives that describe Ghafari team members.
Professional, innovative, talented, diverse, and conscientious.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I announce high school football games on Friday nights for Riverview Community High School in Riverview, Michigan, where my wife and I both graduated from, as well as our two children. In 2011, I started a four-year stint announcing the pre-game and halftime shows for the band, and during that time I was asked to fill in for the game announcer a couple of times. Ironically, right after my youngest child graduated, I was asked to take over the role full time, and this fall will mark my fourth year. It’s a lot of fun and gives me the opportunity to volunteer and give a little back to the community that we have enjoyed for many years. Last year was especially enjoyable, as the Pirates made it all the way to the state semifinals!