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Exploring aspects of automation decisions: A study in the Swedish wood products industry
Jönköping University, School of Engineering, JTH, Industrial Engineering and Management. Jönköping University, School of Engineering, JTH. Research area Industrial Production.
2017 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The wood products industry is important to Sweden's prosperity, and is currently facing several challenges by increased global competition. To avoid the gradual decline of the industry’s contribution to the country’s revenues and employment opportunities, the Swedish wood products industry needs to increase the proportion of the raw material that is refined. New and efficient manufacturing technologies are essential to support this development. The implementation of automation in manufacturing needs to be supported by conscious and well-defined strategies. However, currently, there is a lack of knowledge regarding automation decisions in this industry. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to increase knowledge regarding which aspects should be taken into account when automation decisions are considered in the wood products industry. Three research questions are addressed: (1) What is the current state of manufacturing operations in the wood products industry? (2) What are the potential opportunities for automation in the wood products industry? And (3) What challenges can arise from automation in the wood products industry?

The results presented in this thesis are based on four research papers. The first paper provides an overview of the current state of manufacturing operations in the wood products industry. The second paper examined the impact of the raw material on manufacturing operations in the wood products industry. The third paper assessed how the levels of automation in manufacturing impact operational performance. The fourth paper examined automation opportunities and challenges to gain a better understanding of the reasoning behind automation decisions in the industry.

In general, it is concluded that automation decisions in the wood products industry tend to be based on “gut feeling” and previous experience with automation rather than well-defined decisions and strategies. This is due to inadequate knowledge and familiarity with automation technologies in manufacturing. Furthermore, the findings showed that different aspects of manufacturing interact and impact each other. For this reason, it is essential to take into account other aspects of manufacturing when considering automation decisions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: Jönköping University, School of Engineering , 2017. , 67 p.
Series
JTH Dissertation Series, 025
Keyword [en]
Sweden, Wood products industry, Manufacturing strategy, Automation decisions
National Category
Engineering and Technology Wood Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-35451ISBN: 978-91-87289-26-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-35451DiVA: diva2:1092786
Presentation
2017-06-02, E1405, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
ProWOOD
Available from: 2017-05-11 Created: 2017-05-04 Last updated: 2017-05-11Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Current situation analysis: Manufacturing challenges in woodworking sector
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Current situation analysis: Manufacturing challenges in woodworking sector
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The woodworking sector is highly competitive and mostly competes by manufacturing cost and product quality. The raw material itself stands for more than 50% of total manufacturing cost. In order to decrease manufacturing costs, there is a need to increase quality and efficiency. Even though competitive manufacturing is a widely researched area, sparser research is focused on the woodworking sector. The purpose of this paper is to identify challenges affecting manufacturing competitiveness regarding the following: management, workforce, manufacturing process, material and material handling, and information. The results are based on a literature review supplemented by a case study, conducted at a Swedish interior wood products manufacturing firm. Results indicate that competence is a challenge inhibiting manufacturing competitiveness. Other challenges identified are related to, among others, adaptability. The woodworking sector has a low level of adaptation to manufacturing philosophies and technologies, leaving it lagging behind other industries.                             

Keyword
challenges; competitive manufacturing; competitiveness; wood industry; woodworking sector
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-28855 (URN)
Conference
The 23th International Conference on Production Research, Manila, August 2-5, 2015.
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2016-01-04 Created: 2016-01-04 Last updated: 2017-05-11Bibliographically approved
2. The influence of the raw material on the wood product manufacturing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The influence of the raw material on the wood product manufacturing
2016 (English)In: Factories of the Future in the digital environment - Proceedings of the 49th CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems, 2016, Vol. 57, 764-768 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper focuses on the later part of the wood processing chain in wood industry: the wood product manufacturing. Wood product manufacturers are facing many challenges e.g. due to the high variability of the raw material. Waste and rework are prevalent, resulting in high manufacturing costs. Each processing step in the manufacturing affects material utilization and cost efficiency. The proportion of the material cost and waste in most wood products are high. The challenge for wood product manufacturers is to make profit and remain competitive when on one side they need to execute the processes at the lowest cost and within shortest time and on the other side deal with a highly variable raw material. Therefore, wood product manufacturers need to consider their manufacturing process with emphasizes on the raw material consumed. The purpose of this paper is to examine the direct –and indirect influences of the material on the wood product manufacturing process in terms of productivity and efficiency. The direct influences aims at examining the impact of consuming raw material with different properties on the manufacturing process, while the indirect influences examine process-related aspects affecting the material’s influence on the manufacturing process. This paper is based on a case study at a Swedish interior wood product manufacturer. The first phase of the study compares between two wooden panels with different material properties. Results show that solid, knotty raw material with higher moisture content results in lower efficiency than finger-jointed, knot free material with lower moisture content. The second phase of the study examines the indirect influences and shows that material handling is one of the key process-related aspects that need to be considered.

Series
Procedia CIRP, ISSN 2212-8271 ; 57
Keyword
material utilization; productivity; product yield; wood product manufacturing
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-31963 (URN)000398053800129 ()2-s2.0-85006978285 (ScopusID)
Conference
49th CIRP Conference on Manufacturing Systems, May 25-27, 2016, Stuttgart, Germany
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2016-10-11 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2017-05-11Bibliographically approved
3. Levels of Automation in the wood products industry: A case study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Levels of Automation in the wood products industry: A case study
Show others...
2016 (English)In: Proceedings of the 23rd EurOMA Conference, 2016Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The paper investigates the effect of the changeover in levels of automation (LoA) on the material utilization and the production flexibility in processing line systems, in the wood product industry. Further, the paper examines the applicability of the DYNAMO methodology in the chosen context. A case study was conducted where two processing line systems were analysed and compared in terms of LoA and performance. The results imply that consistency in quality and the ability to handle product complexity are affected by the changeover in LoA. 

Keyword
Levels of Automation (LoA), material utilization, production flexibility
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-31437 (URN)978-82-303-3277-1 (ISBN)
Conference
23rd EurOMA Conference, Trondheim, 17th-22nd June, 2016.
Projects
ProWood
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2016-08-23 Created: 2016-08-23 Last updated: 2017-05-15Bibliographically approved
4. Automation in the wood products industry: challenges and opportunities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Automation in the wood products industry: challenges and opportunities
2016 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A stagnation of productivity increase has been observed in the Swedish wood product industry. The manufacturers believe that there is a need to invest further in automation in order to stay competitive. For this reason, the paper seeks to understand the role of automation in the Swedish wood product industry, and focuses on identifying the challenges and opportunities of automation. The following research question was addressed: What are the challenges and opportunities of automation in the wood product industry? In order to answer the research question, four case studies were conducted, each case representing a different business area. The research question was examined in terms of internal – and external challenges and opportunities. The internal challenges and opportunities examine the manufacturing, while the external challenges and opportunities examine the influence of the business environment. Findings indicate that lack of manufacturing strategies, and lack of awareness of automation technologies were some of the main challenges. Regarding the opportunities, increased profitability and competitiveness were emphasized. The identification of the challenges and opportunities of automation in the wood product industry can provide insights and be used as underlying decisions for automation investments.

Keyword
Levels of Automation (LoA), material utilization, production flexibility
National Category
Robotics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-31957 (URN)
Conference
The 7th Swedish Production Symposium, 25th to 27th October 2016, Lund, Sweden
Available from: 2016-10-11 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2017-05-11Bibliographically approved

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