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Saturday, February 23
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Reducing Student Dining Room Food Waste Through Six Sigma (302614)

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*Diane Evans, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 
*Neel Iyer, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 

Sustainability is a key component of the modern business world. Whether we are talking about your local convenience store or a multinational engine company, methods are being deployed on many levels to make businesses and organizations more sustainable and consequently profitable and environmentally friendly. Advantages of sustainable processes go beyond increased financial revenue, and also include certification (e.g., ISO 14000) and tax benefits. Six Sigma, a statistics based methodology developed by Motorola in the mid-1980’s to help reduce defective products, is a tool commonly applied across various industries to improve their processes by reducing variation. Lean manufacturing, championed by Toyota, is similar to Six Sigma, except its goal is to reduce waste (or muda) in a process. Blended together, Lean Six Sigma is being used today to change the way we think about production and to make improvements in the world around us. The statistical nature of Six Sigma makes process improvement a quantitative study garnering potential real savings to the organization. The idea behind this paper’s project came from a desire to improve the authors’ personal work surroundings at a top-ranked engineering college. We have a self-serve student dining room, and edible food waste is funneled into the trash at the end of each meal. Studies suggest that the amount of food wasted by Americans is one pound per person per day.1 The project’s goal was to conduct a Six Sigma study to measure and then improve the per capita food waste generated by students at student dining room meals. Besides providing a real-world application of the statistical concepts involved in Six Sigma study, an even greater benefit of the project was an opportunity to further the Sustainability Goals set by the institute. The standard DMAIC methodology of Six Sigma was implemented for this project, including an FMEA analysis, control charts, and capability analysis.

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