The Center has compiled extensive resources for wood product manufacturers, including numerous presentations by industry experts given in a series of workshops in 2010-2011. The theoretical information and examples they provide continue to offer an excellent introduction to innovation opportunities for today’s wood products manufacturers.

Lean Manufacturing

Types of Waste that Lean Seeks to Eliminate or Reduce

See the PDFTypes of Waste that Lean Seeks to Eliminate or Reduce

Dr. Earl Kline and Dr. Urs Buehlmann of the Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products discuss the concept of waste from the Lean Manufacturing perspective and the types of waste at which Lean is targeted, including: overproduction, unnecessary inventory, over-processing, waiting, unnecessary movement of products, unnecessary motion/movement of employees and waste associated with rejects/rework.

Benefits of Lean...and Commitments Needed to Realize Benefits

See the PDFBenefits of Lean...and Commitments Needed to Realize Benefits

Dr. Earl Kline and Dr. Urs Buehlmann of the Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products discuss the benefits that wood products companies can realize from Lean Manufacturing, including substantial increases in labor productivity, substantial increases in quality control, dramatic reductions in inventory and the costs associated with inventory, and dramatic reductions in manufacturing lead time. Examples include specific, real-world benefits from various wood products companies that have adopted a Lean approach. The presentation also discusses the opportunities that Lean Manufacturing provides for companies interested in moving into new products and new markets, and also new business models based on mass customization, personalization and co-creating products with customers. Finally, the session provides an overview of the commitments that a company needs to make in order to realize the substantial benefits possible from Lean Manufacturing.

Overview and Perspectives on Lean Methods and Tools

See the PDFOverview and Perspectives on Lean Methods and Tools

Dr. Earl Kline and Dr. Urs Buehlmann of the Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products discuss provide an overview and practical experience of using various lean methods, tools and concepts. Examples include value stream mapping, visual management through use of the 5S system, total productive maintenance to maximize machine effectiveness, standardized work, plant layout, defects elimination, use of the supermarket concept, reduction of setup time, batch reduction, cellular manufacturing, line balancing, continuous flow, use of pull systems, and teams.

Creating a Culture of Change in a Wood Products Company to Embrace and Implement Lean

See the PDFCreating a Culture of Change in a Wood Products Company to Embrace and Implement Lean

Jeff Howe, Founder and Chair of the Board of Dovetail Partners, Minneapolis, MN; former President, Colonial Craft; former President, The Fullerton Companies

One common reason that Lean efforts sometimes fall short of their full potential is the failure to sufficiently integrate Lean thinking as part of the company's culture and win full support by employees. This presentation focuses on the "people side" of Lean, based to a significant extent on Howe’s personal experience with Lean Manufacturing as President of Colonial Craft, a specialty wood products manufacturing company. Colonial Craft achieved spectacular results from Lean thinking, and was twice Midwest finalist for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award based on the company's "unique culture of change.” Topics covered in Howe's presentation include alignment behind a company vision, building teams, building trust, eliminating obstacles, encouraging employees to develop new skills, whole systems thinking, and the importance of written plans.

Additional Lean Manufacturing Resources

The Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) has many useful sources of information and assistance relating to lean implementation. LEI has published several useful workbooks, including Learning to See, which focuses on value stream mapping to create value and eliminate waste, and is highly recommended by Urs Buehlmann and Earl Kline as a great place to start a new or renewed effort to implement Lean. LEI has also published other workbooks, including:

See the LinkCreating Continuous Flow, which focuses on applying the principles of continuous flow.

See the LinkCreating Level Pull provides a useful step-by-step case study on how to implement a level, pull-based production control system.

See the LinkSeeing the Whole is useful for companies that want to focus on improving customer/supplier relationships in the supply chain.

See the LinkMaking Materials Flow addresses how to supply purchased parts to the value stream to support continuous flow.

Productivity Press has produced a workbook that may be a valuable resource for some wood products companies. The book is entitled Made-to-Order Lean: Excelling in a High Mix, Low-Volume Environment.

Two excellent books about Lean Manufacturing are:

  • Lean Thinking: banish waste and create wealth in your corporation, James Womack and Daniel Jones. Second Edition, 2003. Simon and Shuster, New York, NY. ISBN: 0-7432-4927-5, 397 pages
  • Better Thinking, Better Results. Bob Emiliani. 2007. The Center for Lean Business Management, LLC, 336 pages

Mass Customization

Overview of Mass Customization for the Wood Products Industry

See the PDFOverview of Mass Customization for the Wood Products Industry

Dr. Urs Buehlmann, Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science & Forest Products, Blacksburg, Virginia, and Dr. Torsten Lihra, FP Innovations, Quebec City, Canada describe the concept and definition of mass customization, the trend toward increased mass customization in the broader economy, the substantial potential competitive benefits from effective implementation of mass customization, different types of mass customization, and the use or lack of use to date of mass customization by different sectors of the wood products industry and its impact on competitiveness.

A Leader's View: Personal Experience with Implementing Mass Customization

A Leader's View: Personal Experience with Implementing Mass Customization (3) In this presentation, the CEOs of wood products companies successfully implementing Mass Customization describe their rationale for moving to mass customization, how their mass customization works, the benefits they are seeing and anticipate in the future, and some of the challenges they have had to address in implementing mass customization.

See the PDFMass Customization: How It's Done at Cedarworks
Barrett Brown, President, CedarWorks, Rockport, Maine

See the PDFWhen Custom Isn't Custom
Charles Griffiths , President, Vigilant, Inc., Dover, New Hampshire

See the PDFStories Behind Our Growth
Lisa Weber, Chief Executive Officer, Timeless Frames, Timeless Decor, and Timeless Expressions, Watertown, New York

Specific Examples of Mass Customization in the Wood Products Industry

See the PDFSpecific Examples of Mass Customization in the Wood Products Industry

Torsten Lihra and Urs Buehlmann describe a number of specific real world examples of mass customization in the wood products industry. These examples illustrate differing approaches to mass customization in the wood products industry. The presentation describe how mass customization works for each company, and how the company interacts with its customers including how companies have used their websites to advance mass customization.

Implementing Mass Customization

See the PDFImplementing Mass Customization

Urs Buehlmann and Torsten Lihra discuss a number of important topics relating to successfully implementing a mass customization business model, including the approach to Communicating with and Interacting with Customers, the importance of Product Design, the role of the use of Standard Parts, the importance of effective Supply Chain Management, and the role of Lean Manufacturing and Flexible Manufacturing.

Information Technology as Mass Customization Enabler

See the PDFInformation Technology as Mass Customization Enabler

Russ Kahn, Product Manager, 20-20 Technologies, (Cary, North Carolina) discusses the importance of using advances in information technology as an enabler of successful mass customization. Topics include the potential roles of the Internet; order entry; the use of engineering software such as CAD/CAM, the importance in many applications of a configurator; the use of Manufacturing Execution Systems, and other information technology topics.

Additional Mass Customization Resources

See the PDFMass Customization of Wood Furniture as a Competitive Strategy. Torsten Lihra, Urs Buehlmann, et. al. International Journal of Mass Customization. Vol 2. Nos. 3/4, 2008

In January 2006, Wood Digest published an entire issue devoted to mass customization with many good articles. Two that we particularly recommend are:

See the PDFCompeting in a Commodity World: The Business Perspective of Mass Customization, Don Schultz, Wood Digest, Jan. 2006. Schultz is a leading consultant to the wood products industry with special expertise on mass customization.

See the PDFMass Customization - If You Aren't Doing It, Maybe You Should Be, Dave Grubb, Wood Digest, Jan. 2006. Grubb is a consultant to the wood products industry who specializes in wood manufacturing technology and Lean Manufacturing.

See the PDFSmart Customization Comes of Age : Best Practices from the MIT Smart Customization Seminar 2008. Patricia Seybold, CEO of the Boston-based consulting firm Patricia Seybold Group provide examples from other industries that illustrate how mass customization is starting to take hold in the broader economy. Seybold is the New York Times best-selling author of Customers.com, The Customer Revolution and Outside Innovation.

Other good on-line resources from experts on mass customization (although not specializing in wood products) include:

See the LinkBuild-to-Order Consulting.com/articles - David Anderson

See the LinkMass Customization Expert.com - David Gardner (scroll to the bottom of page)

See the LinkFrank Piller's Website on Mass Customization, Customer Co-Creation and Innovation

Company Culture & Organizational Development

See the PDFCreating a Culture of Accountability, presented by Jeff Howe of Dovetail Partners, Inc. at the Maine Wood Products Association Annual Meeting in January 2013 (download PDF, 15 MB).

See the PDFCreating Collaboration Out of Chaos

See the PDFCreating Great Plans—Planning Processes that Work!

Other Resources for Manufacturers

The Center has compiled extensive resources for wood product manufacturers, including numerous presentations by industry experts given in a series of workshops in 2010-2011. The theoretical information and examples they provide continue to offer an excellent introduction to innovation opportunities for today’s wood products manufacturers.

Doubling Sales – Integrating Best Marketing Practices into Your Company to Achieve Significant Growth

Doubling Sales – Integrating Best Marketing Practices into Your Company to Achieve Significant Growth
Jeff Howe, PhD - Dovetail Partners, Minneapolis, MN

Strategies for increasing sales, improving margins and using marketing tools to address the unique challenges faced by wood products manufacturing companies. Identifying the stage of your company’s growth and determining what that means for more effective marketing programs. Target market identification and segmentation, product development and positioning and case studies.

Maximizing Effective Use of the Internet: A Panel Discussion Effective use of the internet as an important component of a company’s marketing strategy.

Maximizing Effective Use of the Internet: A Panel Discussion Effective use of the internet as an important component of a company’s marketing strategy.

See the PDFOnline Sales & Marketing of Wood Products
Tim Holmes - Principal, Holmes & Associates, Saranac Lake, NY

See the PDFSearch Engine Optimization Planning for Managers
Nora McDougall-Collins - Web Services Coordinator, Nat'l Network of Forest Practitioners

See the PDFSocial Media Marketing That Works
Rich Brooks - President, flyte new media, Portland, ME

Penetrating International and Global Markets

Potential benefits for wood products companies to engage in exporting or substantially expanding their existing exporting activity, including challenges and risks. Established and emerging markets for wood products and the types of assistance that can be provided to U.S. manufacturers wishing to explore these markets.

See the PDFPenetrating International Markets (May 25 & 26, 2010)
Tom Hammet, PhD - Professor and Coordinator of International Programs - Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products, Blacksburg, VA

See the PDFPenetrating Global Markets (May 18,19 & 20, 2010)
Mike Snow - Executive Director, American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) - Reston, VA

Incorporating Green Marketing into a Wood Products Company Marketing Strategy

See the PDFIncorporating Green Marketing into a Wood Products Company Marketing Strategy

Dr. Jim Bowyer, Dr. Steve Bratkovich & Dr. Jeff Howe - Principals, Dovetail Partners, Inc. - Minneapoilis, MN

Potential benefits of incorporating green marketing as a component of a wood products company’s marketing strategy. Profiles the green company and the green consumer, emerging trends in green building certification programs in the U.S., chain-of-custody certification, and tools to help companies take advantage of the positive environmental attributes of wood as a building material.

Technology

Current Trends in Computer Controlled Routers

See the PDFCurrent Trends in Computer Controlled Routers

Dr. Richard Lemaster, Director, Wood Machining& Tooling Research Program, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Advances in technology have made CNC machines faster, more flexible, more affordable and easier to use. These advances open up this technology to wood products manufacturers of any size, and with an increasing range of applications. Presentation cover technological advances, the potential benefits of each, and what is required to use them effectively; the availability of dramatically lower cost CNC technology.

Technological Advances in Wood Finishing

See the PDFTechnological Advances in Wood Finishing

Dr. Veronic Landry, FP Innovations - Forintek - Quebec City Enhancing economic competitiveness through use of technological advances in wood finishing, including both materials and equipment. Presentation covers a variety of coatings were examined, including UV- cured, water-based, solvent-based, and bio-based; the advantages, disadvantages, application areas and performance of each; use of nanotechnology; technological advances in equipment, including spray guns and curing/drying coating equipment.

Joinery and Adhesives

See the PDFJoinery and Adhesives

Dr. Daniel Hindman, Associate Professor, Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science & Forest Products - Blacksburg, VA
Technological advances in adhesives and joinery that can enhance the economic competitiveness of wood products companies. Presentation covers questions every manufacturer should ask when considering a new adhesive or joint; discussion of the fundamentals of adhesives, characteristics of wood, joinery techniques and what constitutes a good or bad glue joint.

Dust Collection

See the PDFDust Collection

Michael Gililland, P.E. Principal, Engineering Systems Inc. - O' Fallon, MO An effective dust collection system can enhance a wood products manufacturer’s economic competitiveness by increasing labor productivity through enhanced employee morale and reduced sick time; by increasing the performance and durability of machines; and in some cases by enhancing product quality. This presentation covers technological advances in dust collection systems, exploring the benefits, costs and challenges; factors that a company should consider in selecting a new dust collection; ensuring that a new dust collection system is properly installed; OSHA regulations and a variety of on-line resources.

Going Green

Business Success through Sustainability: Getting Ahead of the Curve

See the PDFBusiness Success through Sustainability: Getting Ahead of the Curve

Jeff Howe, PhD, Founder and President, Dovetail Partners, Inc. - Minneapolis, MN

Presentation provides an overview of the various ways that wood products manufacturers can use sustainability principles to enhance profitability and business growth, including a discussion of a systematic approach to help examine current and potential green activities to reduce costs, increase market access, or both.

Related Article:

See the PDFGreening Your Product Line - Dovetail Partners, January 2008

Marketing to an Increasingly Green Marketplace

See the PDFMarketing to an Increasingly Green Marketplace

Jeff Howe, PhD, Founder and President, Dovetail Partners, Inc. - Minneapolis, MN (bio) Presentation on green market segments marketing ideas specific to wood, including actual concepts and messages that wood product companies can incorporate as part of their marketing efforts to differentiate their products.

Related Materials:

See the PDFMarketing as a Process - Dovetail Partners, September 2010

See the PDFEffective Communication - Dovetail Partners, February 2011

See the PDFNorth American Hardwoods and Their Role in Carbon Neutral Design - Hardwood Council, 2011

See the PDFTackle Climate Change - Use More Wood - A Wood Marketing Example from Europe, 2011

Promoting Energy Efficiency

These presentations address a host of practical energy efficiency measures that wood products manufacturers can take to increase building performance, reduce energy costs and lessen their carbon footprint, including lighting improvements, control of motors and compressed air, use of demand response and others. (State and federal incentive programs current in 2011 are discussed.)

See the PDFOverview of Efficiency Maine's Business Programs
Rick Meinking, Business Program Manager, Efficiency Maine

See the PDFApplying Lean Priniciples to Reduce Energy Consumption
NH Business Programs for Energy Efficiency
David Hess, Project Manager, NH Manufacturing Extension Partnership

See the PDFDriving Down Electricity Bill with Energy Efficiency
Rick Thibodeau, Senior Energy Consultant, Efficiency Vermont

See the PDF$eeing Green: Creating a Green Value Stream Map to Identify Savings

See the PDFOverview of Incentives for Energy Efficiency in New York State
John Pinkerton, Business Advisor, CITEC

Related Article:

See the PDFReducing Your Energy Use by Art Raymond, July 2007, original source:Cabinetmaker+FDM Magazine

Minimizing Production Materials Waste

See the PDFMinimizing Production Materials Waste

Philip Araman, Research Team Leader and Scientist, USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station; and Adjunct Professor, Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products - Blacksburg, VA.

The purchase of materials is a major cost in wood products manufacturing. Presentation covers manufacturing technology and analytical tools to address and minimize wood waste, converting waste into a usable by-product, and how processes that recapture and reuse wood waste can contribute to green building systems.

Related Articles:

See the PDFMinimizing Production Waste by Art Raymond, April 2007, original source:Cabinetmaker+FDM Magazine

Opportunities and Challenges of Chain of Custody Certification

See the PDFOpportunities and Challenges of Chain of Custody Certification

Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director, Dovetail Partners, Inc - Minneapolis, MN An objective review and discussion of FSC and SFI Chain of Custody Certification to provide leaders of wood products companies with information to help them assess whether and how chain of custody certification may make sense as part of implementing their business strategy. Presentation covers how these systems work; provides a realistic, market-based discussion of potential benefits in enhancing economic competitiveness, as well as the costs of implementing these systems; and opportunities for reducing costs through group certification.

Other Resources