Title page for ETD etd-12162010-075013

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Fricke, Christian
Author's Email Address chris80@vt.edu
URN etd-12162010-075013
Degree Master of Science
Department Wood Science and Forest Products
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Buehlmann, Urs K. Committee Chair
Aernoudts, Rene Committee Member
Kline, D. Earl Committee Member
  • Lean implementation
  • Lean support
  • wood products industry
  • furniture manufacturing industry
  • small and medium enterprises
  • Virginia
  • Lean awareness
  • Lean Management
Date of Defense 2010-12-08
Availability unrestricted
During the last decades, the U.S. wood products (NAICS 321) and furniture manufacturing (NAICS 337) industries have been greatly affected by economic cycles, rising production and transportation costs, changing buyer habits, and, arguably, most powerfully, increasing global competition. As a result, tens of thousands of jobs were lost and a large number of companies in the industry experienced bankruptcy, closed operations, or relocated to other countries. However, theories exist stating that the use of management systems, such as, for example, Lean management, allows companies to become more competitive and enhance the likelihood of survival.

A mail survey was conducted to investigate companies in Virginia's wood products and furniture manufacturing industries as to their awareness of Lean management, the implementation of Lean practices, as well as the companies' need for support in Lean implementation efforts.

Findings indicate that a majority of Virginia's wood products and furniture manufacturing industries have heard about terms like, for example, Lean management, Lean manufacturing, or Lean thinking, but are rarely aware of individual Lean elements of which Lean consists. Few businesses thus have implemented Lean. However, findings show that Lean awareness and Lean implementation status differs between individual industry sub-segments. The group of industry segments with the highest Lean awareness and Lean implementation status were “engineered wood products”, “manufactured homes”, and “household furniture manufacturing," as opposed to industry sub-segments such as “sawmill” and “wood container and pallets," which had lower Lean awareness and Lean implementation status. The study also revealed that smaller companies (less than 50 employees) have a lower level of Lean awareness and implementation status than do larger companies (50-499 employees). Despite the low level of Lean implementation across the wood products and furniture manufacturing industry in Virginia, less than one-fourth of all respondents indicated a need for Lean implementation support.

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