The Stillman School of Business and Hackensack University Medical Center have partnered to determine optimal inventory levels for HackensackUMC’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department.
Renu Ramnarayanan, Stillman professor in the Department of Computing and Decision Sciences, and Michelle Kobayashi, a Seton Hall alumna and the interim director of emergency community operations and emergency medical services at Hackensack UMC, are the architects of the supply chain consulting project.
The students involved in the project aim to analyze the use of supplies on the EMS vehicles and determine an optimal inventory level for the vehicles and HackensackUMC’s five distribution centers, based on usage factors, types of 911 calls, state-level minimums and other considerations.
The project, which began in spring 2015 with analysis of inventory levels for the Basic Life Support Vehicles, is expected to continue over the course of several semesters. As of this semester, the students are testing and implementing recommendations from the Spring Semester. After this wave of testing, the next group of students will analyze and model inventory levels for Advanced Life Support Vehicles followed by analysis of the Special Care Trauma Unit Vehicles.
Weekly conference calls are conducted between the students — who are advised by Professor Ramnarayanan— and HackensackUMC representatives including directors, managers, EMTs and paramedics. Students review recommendations and upcoming tasks, and if necessary, make adjustments based on feedback from HackensackUMC contacts.
At the end of each semester, the current group of students transfer the project to the next group by way of detailed notes, conference calls and a group meeting, ensuring clear understanding of the project scope and the next steps for the upcoming semester. Professor Ramnarayanan serves as the link from semester to semester.
Since inception, undergraduate and graduate students have worked together on the project, which is often internship experience for the undergraduate and an independent study for the grad student. Teams have also been interdisciplinary, with students majoring in many areas of business including accounting, marketing, and finance. Ramnarayanan is pleased the consulting project is attracting students with various backgrounds and says it is more important that the students are analytical, logical thinkers and have high emotional intelligence.
Peter Castillo, currently a Morgan Stanley vice president at Enterprise Infrastructure, says “it was the highlight of my M.B.A. experience. There was a real business need. We did the analysis, gave our recommendations and helped Hackensack implement. Plus, the idea of ambulances carrying supplies based on our model is really impressive!”
Before the project with HackensackUMC, Professor Ramnarayanan and three graduate students completed a successful consulting project for Ricola Ltd. to analyze product distribution to the company’s Canadian market. At the end of this high-profile project the students presented their recommendations to Ricola’s C-suite executives including the vice presidents of supply, finance and quality control.
In future, Ramnarayanan hopes to offer business students more opportunities to pursue these types of supply chain consulting projects and has already received inquiries from Toys R Us and Wakefern Food Corporation. Ricola has also expressed interest in a second consulting project with Stillman students.
This project is one of many examples of how the Stillman School “transforms business concepts into practice” for its students.