Title page for ETD etd-11302005-102751

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Leonard, Henry Taylor
Author's Email Address hleonard@vt.edu
URN etd-11302005-102751
Title Time-Based Manufacturing System Design for Softwood Lumber Production
Degree Master of Science
Department Wood Science and Forest Products
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kline, D. Earl Committee Chair
Bond, Brian H. Committee Member
Smith, Robert M. Committee Member
  • capital inventory requirement
  • lead time
  • Value-stream mapping
  • softwood lumber production
Date of Defense 2005-11-28
Availability unrestricted
Manufacturing industries in the United States continue to experience increasing pressure from foreign competition. Through decreasing product lead time, U.S. manufacturers can achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Southern yellow pine manufacturing is an example of an industry that can benefit from product lead time reduction. This project involved a case study of a southern yellow pine lumber manufacturer. Value stream mapping was used to evaluate the current lead time for the lumber manufacturer as well as design future state systems. Current state evaluation discovered an average lead time of 35.3 days according to six months of inventory data. Four future state systems were developed according to current demand and had lead times ranging from 10.8 to 14.9 days. Lead time reduction was achieved through more closely synchronizing and planing operations with sawmill output. To illustrate the impact of lead time on financial performance, the amount of capital invested in inventory was evaluated for the current state value stream as well as the future state value streams. All of the future state capital inventory requirements were less than 50 percent of the current state capital inventory requirement. Implementation of future state value streams would allow the manufacturer to benefit from having more available capital.

This research project also investigated the use of pull production at the softwood lumber manufacturing operation. Effective implementation of pull production would require improving headrig optimization programs, presorting material by grade before drying, little or no drying degrade, and reducing both drying and cooling time. Due to the technological requirements of pull production in lumber manufacturing, the system was not currently feasible for the lumber manufacturer. Future research efforts should be directed towards creating the technology necessary to economically implement pull production in the softwood sawmill industry.

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