Title page for ETD etd-05032011-130451

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Wang, Chao
Author's Email Address wangchao@vt.edu
URN etd-05032011-130451
Title An Application of Lean Thinking to the Furniture Engineering Process
Degree Master of Science
Department Wood Science and Forest Products
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Quesada-Pineda, Henry Jose Committee Chair
Buehlmann, Urs K. Committee Member
Kline, D. Earl Committee Member
  • Furniture engineering process
  • Lean engineering
  • Engineering lead time
  • Value stream mapping
Date of Defense 2011-03-21
Availability restricted
Efficient engineering processes are critically important for furniture manufacturers. Engineering impacts the production cost, design quality, product lead time, and customer satisfaction. This research presents a systematic approach to analyze a furniture engineering process through a case study. The research was conducted through a case study in a furniture plant located in China, producing American style furniture products. The first stage was to investigate the company’s current engineering process, identify non value-added activities, and analyze the engineering performance based on selected Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as lead time, document error rate, and engineering throughput. A survey questionnaire was sent out to the engineering group to determine the current engineering efficiency.

Results show that “product complexity” and “engineer competency” are the two most influential factors that impact engineering lead time and quality. In the second stage, value stream mapping was used to analyze an upholstery furniture engineering process. The approach encompasses an analysis of the current state of the engineering process and the proposal of a lean future state value stream map (VSM).

Results from the current state VSM show, that the value-added ratio of the current engineering process is only 26%. Several engineering steps present deficiency such as the processes of creating drawings, compile mass production documents, check and sign-off engineering documents, create CNC programs, and generate packaging files. Based on current state VSM analysis, the researcher focused on transforming these processes to eliminate waste and to propose the best practices for the future state VSM.

From this research, it shows that current processes include a large amount of non-value adding activities such as waiting, extra processing, rework, excess motion, transportation, underutilized people, and inefficient information. These non-value adding activities are interfering with engineers’ ability to prepare engineering documents for downstream jobs and affecting the overall manufacturing process. The VSM is effective to provide the visual control over the engineering process for implementing lean transformations.

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