Lean and sustainable production of roller blinds

Yasmeen Jaghbeer and Yvonne Motyka have investigated how Markisol can increase their production efficiency by focusing on lean and sustainability principles.

About the project

Thesis name: Roadmap towards a lean and sustainable production for medium sized manufacturers: a case study

Students: Yasmeen Jaghbeer, Yvonne Motyka

Partner company: Markisol Holding AB

Programs: MSPI, Mechanical Engineering (course: MT2540 Master thesis, TE2501 (Master Thesis))

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Project prompt

The aim is to investigate how medium sized manufacturers can increase their production efficiency and move strategically towards sustainability. The primary purpose is to provide recommendations on how to improve the production efficiency and sustainability of Markisol operations.

Solution – Lean and sustainable roadmap for roller blinds production

The lean and sustainable roadmap for Marksiol, and the roadmap guidelines for creating a lean and sustainable roadmap in medium-sized manufacturers.

Executive Summary

Introduction

Trends such as globalization, increased customer demand, and rising sustainability challenges are greatly affecting medium-sized manufacturers. To survive in today’s market, manufacturers are forced to rethink and improve their production processes.

Lean and Sustainable production are becoming an expected feature of today’s manufacturing systems. A powerful methodology in Lean Production is Value Stream Mapping (VSM). While in the quest for sustainable development, several approaches and tools emerged over the years, such as Cleaner Production (CP), Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD), and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). However, it is argued that most of the tools and concepts are too complicated and time-consuming to fit medium-sized manufacturers.

roller blinds production
Roller blinds production

Overall aim and purpose

The overall aim of this thesis is to investigate how medium-sized manufacturers can improve their production and sustainability performances using appropriate tools from the lean manufacturing and sustainable development literature. Further, a roadmap development process to assist them should be provided. The research took place at a medium sized company, Markisol Holding AB, which works mainly within the roller blinds industry. The company prepares to introduce lean production into its operations and has an open eye for sustainability improvements to cope with their customer requirements. However, there is a need for a more structured view on what is going on inside the production and what can be enhanced from both a lean and sustainability point of view. Thus, a primary purpose of this thesis is to provide recommendations on how to improve the production efficiency and sustainability of Markisol Holding AB operations.

Research Questions

The main research question is:

How could a lean and Sustainable production roadmap be created for a medium sized manufacturer?

Two sub-research questions were formulated to answer the main research question:

RQ (1): How could the Value Stream Mapping be used in a medium sized manufacturer to reduce the sources of waste in production?

RQ (2): How could the production in a medium sized manufacturer be assessed with respect to the overarching sustainability principles?

Approaches and Methods

The research was designed as a case study, where a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods was used for data collection and data analysis. The quantitative methods mainly consist of time and work in progress measurements, while the qualitative methods included interviews, dialogues, and observations.
Different methods and tools were used in different parts of the work to fulfill the thesis purpose. VSM was used to provide a blueprint of the production processes and improve the production performance. A mix of Sustainability Life Cycle Analysis (SLCA) and Sustainability Compliance Index (SCI) was used to uncover the sustainability challenges and enhance the sustainability performances.

Results and Discussion

The first part of the results describes how VSM can be used to visualize the material and information flows, from the reception of materials from suppliers until the shipment of finished goods in a medium-sized manufacturer. Taking into consideration all the processes the product goes through on the production floor on a door-to-door level.

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Through interviewing the customer, the value was defined as the delivery time and costs. Accordingly, the value-added and non-value-added activities in production could be determined at a later stage in the analysis. Afterward, a product family was selected, and mapping the current state VSM for the typical product at the case company took place. It is found that the value-added time is about 3.2 hours out of the production lead time which is 228.8 hours. To improve the situation, analysis of the VSM was performed according to the eight guiding questions from the VSM literature, combined with the process-level waste analysis, to identify the sources of waste and maximize the improvement potential. The amount of waste was surprising, with the majority of the waste classified under the following categories; incorrect processing, unnecessary motion and waiting. Finally, a future state map was proposed with the adequate improvements indicated.

In the second part of this case study results, a combination of tools has been utilized to assess the production with regards to the sustainability principles. The SLCA tool was adopted to explore how the current production lines appear from a strategic sustainability perspective through the questions and answers template. For each sustainability principle, a set of questions was created to provide a holistic understanding of the current situation. Interviews with management and production were conducted to fill the SLCA template. The answers were then analyzed further using the Sustainability Compliance Index (SCI) matrix. For the current level of compliance was found to be an excellent level (SCI 9), good level (SCI 6) for the second and third ecological sustainability principles respectively, which is related to the buildup chemicals produced by society, and degradation of nature by physical means. However, lower compliance levels (SCI 3) were revealed for the first ecological principle concerned with the buildup of substances extracted from the earth crust and the social sustainability principles. Respectively, higher future sustainability levels could be attained in the production. Suggestions were provided to shift the case company from a relatively low level into an excellent and high compliance levels for the first and social sustainability principles respectively.

Production and sustainability performance suggestions were analyzed and discussed with the production development and the management to assure their feasibility and applicability. Accordingly, a roadmap was provided to the case company with clear milestones and actions distributed in one year, the summary of the main improvements can be seen in the below table.

Expected improvements in key production and sustainability performances
Expected improvements in key production and sustainability performances.

Furthermore, the social aspects regarding employee satisfaction, teamwork, and group dynamics will be enhanced by introducing the rotational system, better ergonomics at working stations and the safety plan.

Conclusion

The used tools for the lean and sustainability assessment proved to satisfy the intended purpose of assessing the production according to the lean and sustainability principles for a medium-sized manufacturer. The lean parameters can be considered as operational indicators for sustainability.

However, the lean efforts alone are not sufficient to cope with today ́s evolving trends and the increased sustainability requirements. To be able to cope with it, it is essential to complement the lean initiatives with a sustainability assessment effort to generate ultimate improvement potentials. The taken approach and analysis through building the roadmap was found to be effective through comparing it to the management ́s expectations and perceptions of the approach, and to both quantitative and qualitative measures from the literature. These comparisons indicate that the achieved roadmap is easy to create for medium sized manufacturers, and it holds substantial improvement potentials in their journey towards being a lean and sustainable manufacturers.

The guidelines for developing the lean- and sustainable production roadmap in medium-sized manufacturers are presented in the figure below.

Lean and Sustainable production roadmap development guidelines
Lean- and Sustainable production roadmap development guidelines.

The findings of this work are seen to be of high generalizability to other medium-sized manufacturers seeking to increase their production and sustainability performances. Further research and more empirical case studies are needed in the area of lean and Sustainable manufacturing.