Senior Design Journey 2021: Bringing More Lyman Orchards Pies to the Masses, Part 2

Workers prepare pies in the Lyman Orchards production facility. (Photo Courtesy of Lyman Orchards)


By: Eli Freund, Editorial Communications Manager, UConn Engineering 

This article is part of a multi-part series on engineering students, and their journey through Senior Design. Click here to read part 1 of this article series.

A team of University of Connecticut School of Engineering students are continuing their work with a business that has a deep connection to generations of families across Connecticut—using their skills to bring its bakery business to the next level.

The business, Lyman Orchards, is working with Management and Engineering for Manufacturing students Lindsey Fleck, Allison Pfahler, Scott Gaffney, and Blanche Gorham to closely observe their manufacturing process and make some recommendations that could increase their output of pies by 70 to 80 percent.

To do that, the group, in the Fall semester, did some safe and socially distanced observing at the production facility, timing every part of the process. Now they are working on the next part of their project, which includes writing up official recommendations, completing the freezer model they have been working on coding in Excel, collecting and analyzing data, and designing posters to hang on the wall that outline new recommendation procedures.

But, most importantly, Pfahler says that there are two key pieces of their plan that will help tremendously.

“This semester our project focus shifted to the freezer, to make sure the company and freezer would be able to handle the increased production. Additionally, a new idea was brought up to move the packing part of production to another building on property. With the development of this idea, we are looking at how this could increase production and what the company could do with the new space that has opened up in the Apple Barrel.”

Earlier in the semester, the team faced some hurdles with the expanded space and the freezer, but Gaffney says that the team has developed multiple contingencies to assure success.

“Early in the second semester there was a new idea to utilize another building on Lyman’s property. Utilizing this building would allow Lyman to greatly increase their production throughput. With this came a few hiccups; The first being that it has to be confirmed that this building is SQF (Safe Quality Food) compliant. Also, with this great increase in production we need to confirm/make a plan to confirm that Lyman will have enough freezing space to store all the added production. Although the SQF compliance is still pending, this is no longer a problem for us as we have contingency plans for both scenarios.”

Because of that, the team is on track to be done by Senior Design Demonstration Day on April 28—which was no small feat.

“It was a challenge to complete all the time studies by the goal we had set for ourselves in the beginning of the fall semester. We had to be flexible as a group and work around all of our schedules. Now we are working on an Excel spreadsheet that models input and output for Lyman’s freezer. We had to refresh our knowledge of VBA/Macros. Coding can be time consuming, so we have to manage our time to make sure we are still meeting our other project deadlines,” said Fleck.

And as for after Design Day? The four seniors are appreciative to have worked on a project that was impactful and related to their future careers.

“Several of us have plans to work in full-time positions in supply chain and operations management after graduation, so the work that we have done in this project is very closely related to our post-graduate jobs. I think that it has been great to gain experience in improving the production process for Lyman Orchards because we will likely have related tasks during our professional careers,” Gorham said.

Senior Design Demonstration Day will be held virtually again this year, on April 28. For more information on the Senior Design program, please click here.

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