Logistics and transportation majors will continue to help Arc Jacksonville in the future


Seven UNF students from the Transportation and Logistics Flagship Program spent three weeks out of August working with Arc Jacksonville, a non-profit company that provides contracted work for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Arc Jacksonville’s employees’ tasks consist of assembling kits and newsletters, prepping boxes for transport, packaging and manufacturing products, and more.

After accessing the company’s strengths and weaknesses, the student group made a presentation of recommendations they presented to Arc Jacksonville executives Aug. 21.

“Every recommendation made is well in reach,” said Susan Hamilton, director of employment services at Arc Jacksonville.

One member of the student team is a recent UNF graduate, Randi Ancayan, who is now employed with Arc Jacksonville on a contractual basis.

Ancayan said the main goal of the project was to make every recommendation as cost effective as possible, especially since in previous years, the United Way has cut the amount of donation dollars it gives to the Arc Jacksonville.

The United Way funding, which is subsidizing the program, will stop completely this year.

“Hopefully by next year, through implementing the recommendations from the student group, Arc Jacksonville will be self-sustaining,” said Cara Bowyer, assistant executive director of Arc Jacksonville.

One of the first problems the student group noticed was the lack of an effective inventory system for the three separate warehouses the company had. The previous inventory system was manual and time-consuming, Ancayan said.

“Customers would call and want to know how soon we could fill an order, and we wouldn’t know without making another phone call,” Ancayan said. “[The new] system would be updated daily.”

The improved process would be a database of inventory information for all three warehouses accessible instantly from the computer.

Claudia Gorham, senior transportation and logistics student involved in the project, said it was difficult to face such real-world issues outside of the classroom.

“It was a challenging experience because it is different from what we learn in school,” she said.

Most challenges related specifically to the non-profit aspects of the project; in the business world, as long as a solution creates a profit for a company, it’s accepted. But in the non-profit world, every penny must be counted and every dollar spent accordingly, Ancayan said.

“We did a cost-budget analysis on everything,” he said.

Another main problem the group addressed involved consumers who would take materials out of the warehouse before they were inventoried. So the group created a color-coded sticker system in which items marked green are ready to leave the warehouse, and items marked red aren’t ready, Ancayan said.

They also suggested installing a production board so when consumers get to work, they know where they are going to begin. In the current system, workers just stand around not knowing what to do first, he said.

“Everyone [in the group] just pulled together and kept bouncing ideas off one another,” senior transportation and logistics major Rose Mueller said of the whole process. “It was nothing like coursework or homework, but a fun learning experience,” she said.

Though Gorham said to allow six months for all of the recommendations to be implemented, Ancayan said he is confident everything can be in place in less than two months.

But he did acknowledge the database would take the longest to implement. The next meeting between the student group and Arc Jacksonville, the annual fundraising event Dinner with Bill, is scheduled Oct. 28 at the Hyatt downtown.