Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Lean thinking in the secondary woodproducts industry : challenges and benefits Public Deposited

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  • Due to growing global competition, especially in the last decade, the United States wood and wood-based industries have suffered significant market share losses. The wood industry in Germany is facing similar challenges. To stay competitive in an increasingly global marketplace, many wood manufacturers are adopting new management/manufacturing approaches. Lean manufacturing is a widely accepted and adopted approach across industries. Lean thinking captures the holistic management approach behind the lean manufacturing terminology. The ultimate goal of a lean organization is to create a smooth, high quality organization that is able to produce finished products at the rate of customer demand in the quality looked-for with slight or no waste. This study documents cases of lean implementation in the United States and German secondary wood products industries. Two “lean leader” companies from each country were studied to identify the successes, failures, and challenges to implementation. Qualitative and quantitative measures were used to document and compare the individual case studies. An embedded multiple-case design approach was applied. Findings of the study, and previous work suggested, that lean thinking can make companies in the secondary wood products industry more profitable. The implementation of lean thinking resulted in more efficient and cost effective manufacturing. Particularly, case companies were able to reduce defects, inventory, and lead time. The study also showed, that if lean thinking was applied to marketing processes, benefits especially in the areas of customer service, new product development, and customer satisfaction were created. The positive results of lean thinking are not limited to those mentioned above, but these were the most common benefits. Case companies were able to realize many other positive effects by implementing lean practices and principles. The key challenges case companies faced during lean implementation were communication issues. All case companies saw it as critical to communicate the new vision and values to all employees. It was seen as extremely important to have everybody understand and accept what lean thinking means and what benefits it can bring to an organization. At the same time this was the main challenge all case companies had to overcome.
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