Local professor helping INDOT

A Purdue Polytechnic Columbus faculty member has received a state grant to help the Indiana Department of Transportation learn how to apply LEAN practices to its projects.

The $51,000 grant will be used to teach INDOT maintenance employees at four locations around the state how to apply the LEAN system to the state agency’s processes, to result in greater productivity and cost-savings.

Padfield explained that his teaching process will involve asking employees to examine what they do and to identify anything that is not producing value to motorists using Indiana highways. In the training, employees learn what is value added and what is not value added in their everyday work.

The first time he worked with an INDOT team was in the Crawfordsville district, Padfield said. Workers there initially were hesitant about speaking up with ideas on how to improve processes but gradually became more and more engaged.

The project that INDOT team tackled in Crawfordsville resulted in $2.4 million in capital savings and an estimated $80,000 per year in labor savings, INDOT officials said.

“People doing the job often have suggestions on how to do it better. We’re trying to unleash the creativity of frontline employees,” Padfield said of his training strategy.

“We’re trying to encourage employees to think like small business owners — if they see something inefficient, they need to have an idea to remedy that,” Padfield added.

Padfield is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt who has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive, security products and medical device industries. He has taught corporate training classes on quality improvement and FDA design controls in eight countries.

“Since joining the faculty at Purdue Polytechnic Columbus, Professor Padfield has made a significant impact on the growth of our industrial engineering technology degree program,” said Andy Schaffer, associate dean of Purdue Polytechnic statewide. “These training workshops in LEAN for INDOT are another example of Jon’s ability to take academic principles and teach others how to effectively apply them in a variety of workplace environments.”

Schaffer said what Padfield is doing for INDOT is similar to what Purdue Polytechnic staff do every day across many STEM disciplines.

For more information about Purdue Polytechnic programs or degrees, visit purdue.edu/Columbus.