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Great Lakes Wood Manufacturing Partnership

0227830<br/>Brashaw <br/><br/>This award is to the University of Minnesota at Duluth to support the activity described below for 24 months. The proposal was submitted in response to the Partnerships for Innovation Program Solicitation (NSF 02060). The partners include the University of Minnesota at Duluth (Lead Institution), Michigan Technological University, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Products Laboratory, Northern Economic Initiatives Corporation, Beaver Manufacturing, Shell Lake (WI), Besse Forest Products, Ladysmith (WI), Colonial Craft (Roseville, MN), Conner Sports Flooring (Amasa, MI), Crystal Cabinet Works (Princeton, MN), Fentech, Inc (Superior, WI), Ferche Millwork (Rice, MN), Glen Oak Lumber & Milling (Montello, WI), GFP Strandwood Corp Houghton, MI), Maple Flooring Manufacturing Association (Northbrook, IL), Northern Contours (Fergus Falls, MN), Northern Hardwoods (South Range, MI), Smurfit Stone (Ontonagon, MI), TrueRide, Inc (Duluth, MN), Wisconsin Business Innovation Corp (Spooner, WI). Kaizen techniques are being used to improve the manufacturing process by implementing lean manufacturing, resulting in reduced costs and improves profitability. These techniques are being used in development projects to address technical, material, and market issues for new products and to reduce the development time cycle. The partnership cooperatively provides assistance to private companies in adoption of best manufacturing practices, introduction of new technology, and development of new products. These activities promote and sustain innovation by training wood products specialists in lean manufacturing and group facilitation, strengthening their capabilities for contributing to economic growth and stability of the wood products industry. A model for promoting future ties between universities, state agencies, federal laboratories, economic development organizations and private wood products businesses in other regions of the United States will be developed. The program will also provide a well-trained workforce for the wood products industry.<br/><br/>During the first phase of the project, 15 companies will participate in company-specific manufacturing process improvement and/or product and market development projects. In the second phase, an additional 12+ company partners will be identified for projects. Further outreach to the wood products companies in the Great Lakes Region will be completed through short courses and case studies. Improved manufacturing technologies will make these companies more profitable and new jobs will result. The creation of new jobs will have a significant impact on the region, which currently has a high unemployment. In addition, more efficient use of the natural wood supply will have ecological implications for the future.

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