Logistics Management Capstone Project is What you Make of It

By Jeffrey L. Downing, Logistics Management 14′

The Master of Science in Logistics Management Capstone Course (MGT 5903) is the type of course that truly is what you make of it.  For our team of three it provided an opportunity to use tools and skills that we learned in each of the core classes of the degree program to address a real world business problem.

How do you manage a 46 topping inventory for a self-serve frozen yogurt shop?  That seemingly simple task is deceptive is what our (Spring 2014) logistics management capstone course project team atFlorida Tech Hampton Roads discovered. When we started digging into the facts and constraints associated with this question, we found many layers one may not consider from just looking at the surface level of the problem. For example, some toppings are perishable, some are more popular than others, some cost more than others, some weigh more than others, and to top it off you have a small storefront with limited storage capacity

The business that presented the logistics problem was a brand new retail self- service frozen yogurt shop in, Zoyo Neighborhood Yogurt, with a topping bar that contained 46 different choices for toppings ranging from fresh fruit to sour gummy worms. They actually had their grand opening during the course. Our project was to analyze and recommend the best strategy in support of their supply chain and inventory management.  These two focus areas were priority for this new business. This is because the business owners knew that inventory management and supply chain optimization could very quickly become the not so simple task that can be the keys to what gives this low barrier low entry type of business the competitive advantage.

The project team used principles and concepts from statistics, production operations, supply chain management, distribution, financial management, logistics policy, program management, economics, and research methods to provide the owner with ideas, processes and tools to maximize profitability and minimize waste. When the team was done with the project, they handed over an exhaustive study that provided the owners a demand forecast model, analysis of their business plan, and recommendations on how to manage the different types of topping inventory, a plan to evaluate suppliers, recommendations for internal controls, and a flexible approach to supply chain management.  The frozen yogurt business owners were ecstatic, as they had received a great deal of insight not only at the completion but also throughout the project that they quickly implemented resulting in quick wins for their business.

In addition to sharing my experience, I want to emphasis my appreciation for the fact that through the capstone projects FIT stays connected to the community it serves.  It integrates and serves the community not just through the education of students but also in collaboration with businesses creating a mutually beneficial environment.  The projects keep FIT in tune with local business needs so that the curriculum can remain relevant to today’s business needs.  This supports the students’ transition from academic to career pursuits with real-time experience.  The students’ step out into the world with confidence not only with new knowledge and with skills learned in class but already having used them in a real world application.

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