ANDERSON --- As a production supervisor at Advanced Labelworx, a custom label printing company in Anderson, Daniel Sanders wears many hats.  In addition to supervising a 15-member production team, he coordinates shipping schedules, works with customers to ensure on-time delivery and collaborates with research and development and management teams.   It's a multi-faceted job, with responsibilities that require process improvement, lean manufacturing and quality management skills.

The key to success is applying these lean manufacturing principles, a concept he learned and mastered while a student in Tri-County Technical College's Manufacturing Management and Leadership program (formerly Industrial Supervision).  Lean manufacturing is a term coined for the Toyota production system in the early 1990's.  It's a manufacturing system designed to improve quality, production and cost through a never-ending quest to eliminate waste in the workplace.

"In that one Lean Manufacturing course, I learned the basic fundamentals for organization and a successful thought process.  I couldn't do my job to the degree of success I do today without my degree," said Sanders, who completed the degree in December.  "Learning about enforcing the lean culture was the most important part of college.  That course really stands out.  The series of quality control courses also were so beneficial.  If someone had those courses, he or she could run a successful business and not just in the manufacturing world.  When used correctly, lean principles can increase productivity, eliminate waste and influence a more successful organization," he said.

"At Advanced Labelworx, I'm always looking for ways to improve and expand.  I really enjoy what I do," said the Walhalla resident. 

Sanders entered college in 2012 after two years in the Air Force.  "Before entering Tri-County, I didn't have a clear vision and purpose for life," he said.  He had worked for several companies for four years - without a college education.  "I was struggling to make ends meet," he said.  He chose the Manufacturing Management and Leadership curriculum which focuses on first-line management duties and responsibilities in a modern manufacturing facility.  "I was a full-time student while maintaining a 50- 60-hour work week.  After that one course, I got back on track," he said.

 "The evening program is perfect for a working adult.  Instructors understand the working adult's lifestyle and they work with the students.  There's a camaraderie among the evening students.  We were all working toward a common goal.  Most of us worked in manufacturing and were trying to expand our education and grow and develop together," said Sanders, who had earned eight college credits by taking dual enrollment classes while a student at Walhalla High. 

   He acknowledges that working full time while attending college isn't easy but it's worth it.  After working as a process improvement director, last October he was promoted to production supervisor.  "Today, I supervise 15 people and I encourage them to get their degrees.  I move their schedules around so they can go to classes at Tri-County.  I work with them to make it happen.  I want to give them every opportunity for success that Tri-County did for me."