Department of Mathematics

Proposed Project for the MSU Industrial Math Students

Herman Miller, Inc.

Foreseeing Clearly, Using Statistical Modeling to Improve Order Forecasts

About Herman Miller:

Innovative business practices and a commitment to social responsibility have helped establish Herman Miller as a recognized global leader in the office furniture industry. Herman Miller’s inspiring designs, inventive technologies, and strategic services help people do great things and organizations perform at their best. The company’s award-winning products and services generated approximately $2.1 billion in revenue in fiscal 2015.

Background:

Herman Miller’s core business is contract office furniture. Most of this furniture is manufactured to order in a just-in-time process. In order to manufacture efficiently, the right resources, tools, and materials need to be available at the right time. Forecasting of product demand provides for these conditions to be met. Unforeseen demand or lack of demand induces inefficiency in the process in the form of idle resources or missed deadlines.

Project:

The objective of this project is to improve order forecasting capability. Currently, various forecasting methods are utilized to provide the needed product demand information. Herman Miller is exploring methods to augment the existing demand forecast. Providing a more precise result will allow for greater efficiencies in the production process.

The MSU students will be asked to model which opportunities will make it through the sales process, and once through, what the fulfillment and product line mix will be. Data sources for this project will include detailed order history, CRM data, and possibly external economic indicators such as employment data, construction data, and inflation rate.