Manufacturing Engineering Tripos (MET) Long Projects 2015

Charles Holland (

Performance monitoring of warehouse operations

Supervisors: Alan Thorne and Vaggelis Giannikas


With the rise of e-commerce, order fulfillment companies are required to expand their operations outside the boundaries of their countries, often in order to support existing clients with global customers. While they have relied on their close proximity to the current operation to know what is going well or badly, these companies need a more objective and detached means of monitoring new warehouses from a different physical location. This will allow them to watch the development of new warehouses remotely, and provide a useful means for comparing operations between warehouses despite their many differences. This project, therefore, aims to establish a set of performance KPIs for day-to-day warehouse processes, to enable performance monitoring by off-site managers. This project runs in co-operations with James and James.



Tim Palmer (

Optimisation of replenishment quantities for store replenishment

Supervisor: Duncan McFarlane


Presently Tesco replenishes its stores to ensure that the target stock level on the store shelves by an automatic replenishment system. There is no provision within the current replenishment model for an economic order quantity (EOQ) of products instead the replenishments are solely triggered by the desired stock level and the pack of the product, as such approximately 40% of these automatic replenishments are for one unit of product. There are significant costs involved in the replenishment of the stores. The project will look into the possible changes to the approach taken in replenishing the stores to try and reduce some of the overhead costs associated with this activity. The results of the project may have implications for the amount of working capital engaged within the stores and stock availability to the customer and these relationships need to be taken into account.



Daniel Brackenbury (

Product and process innovation & supply chain mapping for Laing O'Rourke 90+ project

Supervisors: Duncan McFarlane and Tariq Masood


This project will look to focus on the offsite addition of fitted kitchens to the housing modules produced in the Advanced Manufacturing Facility, as an area that little exploratory work has been done so far by Liang O’Rourke. The takt time of the kitchen fitting process is planned to decrease from 60 minutes at outset to 10 minutes as production volume ramps up. For this reason, it is important to have identified potential routes at outset to aid in kitchen fitting and assembly so as to be able to reduce kitchen installation times to meet faster takt times.

To accomplish this, a study will be conducted identifying potential ways kitchens and kitchen units can be redesigned so as to reduce time taken for assembly of kitchen units and fitting of kitchens. This study will include:

  • Identifying possibility of incorporating sub-assemblies into kitchen fitting process
  • Examining redesigns of kitchen units to incorporate Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA)
  • Examining redesigns of unit attachments to reduce fitting time
  • Examining ways of incorporating MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) systems into kitchen units to reduce fitting time



Jack Bews (

Determining the supply chain and manufacturing costs analysis for mechanical electrical products (MEP) lines

Supervisors: Duncan McFarlane and Tariq Masood


To set up a full production line with the capability to produce mechanical electrical products such as plant rooms cost effectively and with sufficient capacity to justify working offsite, a high capital expenditure (CapEx) is required to invest in the appropriate high tech machinery. To do this Laing O’Rourke would require the capability in its managerial team and operators to be able to run this line. This project will focus specifically on sourcing the suppliers of the main input material, the stainless steel pipes, and the suppliers of the requisite machinery. The project will also determine the level of work that the supplier can do on the raw material (i.e. how many processes that Laing O’Rourke have planned to do can the supplier do). Therefore the value of this project to Laing O’Rourke will be to assess the level of vertical integration needed in the MEP section of the Advanced Manufacturing Facility (AMF). The project will be a valuable piece of research into comparing the costs of doing everything in house against varying levels of integration such as purchasing ready bent and welded pipes from the supplier. In summary the project will consist of a make vs. buy on each section of the MEP production line focusing on plant rooms as the major product.




Jess Manning (

Improving the passengers of reduced mobility (PRM) processes through Heathrow Airport

Supervisor: Alan Thorne


Initially this project will:

  • Define the process flow of a PRM in order to identify key intervals and data bottlenecks
  • Summarising the stakeholder environment, including key pressures
  • Propose improvements and controls to provide best in class PRM solutions, preferably supported with key measures and analysis

Early on in the project, it will be necessary to narrow down which parts of the PRM process need to be more intently investigated. The initial investigations will begin with the demand pressures, geographical pressures and process pressures affect on the PRM process. It will also be necessary to investigate the rising demand in the PRM process, with an aging population and increase in older people travelling.

The process flow of the PRM and its key intervals and bottlenecks will have to be investigated from different viewpoints; from the passenger, the airline and the service provider.  The airline is the party paying for the service, thus the suggested improvements will have to take this into consideration.  The improvements will have to be cost neutral or beneficial, along with "making every journey better".  Current solutions at other airports may also be investigated for comparison.



Jack Beattie (

Improvement to Easidew production process including automation evaluation

Supervisor: Alan Thorne


Michell Instruments is an international leader in high precision sensing equipment. Michell designs and manufactures an extensive portfolio of transmitters, instruments and system solutions that are capable of measuring dew-point, humidity and oxygen levels in demanding environments. As the market has grown, Michell Instruments have typically been happy to add more operators and resources such that demand can be satisfied. However, they are now beginning to encounter health and safety concerns as a result of the increased production volumes. More specifically, some operators are beginning to report experiencing Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Therefore an alternative approach that holds potential financial benefits would be re-design of the manufacturing process to suit the current and expected production volumes. The current procedure has been refined and improved for many years and thus incremental improvements, such as new fixtures and jigs, are delivering diminishing returns. Automation is an option that could potentially deliver substantial benefits, presenting more of a radical change if implemented selectively and intelligently. The IfM already has an automation assessment tool that can be used to identify which areas of a manufacturing process are suitable for automation and in what way. This tool provides a good platform on this project for evaluating the possibility of using automation in the assembly of the Easidew. Further work may then be conducted to suggest automation applications specifically for this product and train Michell in how to apply the theory to other products and processes.

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