The Impact of Vacuum-Drying on Efficiency of Hardwood Products Manufacturing

Oxana Maria Brenes-Angulo, Brian Bond, Earl Kline, Henry Quesada-Pineda

Abstract


Many wood product manufacturers are trying to increase competitiveness by implementing continuous improvement programs such as lean manufacturing. However, the lumber drying process can significantly affect manufacturing time and inventory size, thus limiting how “lean” the entire process can become. The goal of this research was to determine how vacuum drying technology could support lean manufacturing concepts relative to conventional drying technology in hardwood manufacturing. Two flooring manufacturers with drying operations were modeled, and simulations were used to determine differences in cycle time and work-in-process inventory. The total cycle time of vacuum drying was 78% and 90% less than conventional drying. Work-in-process inventory was reduced by 57% and 52%. The reduction of work-in-process inventory in the drying process represents a potential cost savings of $7.3 million and $13.6 million per year for each manufacturer, respectively. The reduction in inventory carrying costs, faster drying rates, and reduced cycle time demonstrate that vacuum drying could significantly improve the competitiveness of hardwood flooring manufacturers.

Keywords


Vacuum drying; Lean manufacturing; Simulation

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Welcome to BioResources! This online, peer-reviewed journal is devoted to the science and engineering of biomaterials and chemicals from lignocellulosic sources for new end uses and new capabilities. The editors of BioResources would be very happy to assist you during the process of submitting or reviewing articles. Please note that logging in is required in order to submit or review articles. Martin A. Hubbe, (919) 513-3022, hubbe@ncsu.edu; Lucian A. Lucia, (919) 515-7707, lucian.lucia@gmail.com URLs: bioresourcesjournal.com; http://ncsu.edu/bioresources ISSN: 1930-2126