The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type

Starred Paper

Degree Name

Engineering: M.E.M


Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering


College of Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Ben Baliga

Second Advisor

Gary Nierengarten

Third Advisor

Balasubramanian Kasi

Fourth Advisor

Hiral Shah

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


This report discusses strategies used to improve operational excellence within a custom manufacturing company. These continuous improvement strategies were used to identify a tool that would improve overall performance and would allow the organization to be more competitive. The organization was threatened by global competition driving down market prices and weakened by a complacent culture and inefficient processes that resulted in millions of dollars in manufacturing variance. These factors contributed to the company’s loss of profit and competitive advantage in some key markets. The objective of this project was to evaluate, select and develop tools and techniques that would increase profitability and competitive advantage by increasing responsiveness, efficiencies and productivity while reducing manufacturing variance. This was to be achieved through the application of continuous improvement methodologies. The project identified nesting software as a tool that could greatly improve the current state of the plate cutting process. This tool allowed the organization to be responsive at the initial stages of the project. It also constructed a plan for optimizing the utilization of material and effectively displayed the nested layouts within the manufacturing documents in order to effectively communicate and execute the plan. Execution of the plan reduces material variance, rework costs and scrap which results in significant cost savings. For a custom manufacturer of this type, the key to increasing profitability and improving competitive advantage is to continuously improve internal capabilities.


I would like to thank my family for bearing with me as I worked to achieve a Master in Engineering Management. I appreciate your tolerance for my lack of involvement during this period of time. I am also so grateful for my husband Blake who walked hand in hand with me to achieve this degree. I am very blessed to have all of you in my life.

I would like to express my gratitude to all the professors that have gone above and beyond to teach others, especially the adjunct professors within the St. Cloud State Master of Engineering Management program. Finally, a special thanks to Dr. Ben Baliga for his efforts to develop the MEM program and for his continual support throughout this journey.



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