Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Department of Wood Science and Forest Products in Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service are offering a series of workshops on "Lean Thinking" concepts in the wood products industry.

Simply defined, lean thinking is a method of doing more with less. The workshop series will help leaders and managers in the wood products industry identify target opportunity areas for improvement in their businesses and will provide a step-by-step guide for the implementation of “lean systems” and continuous improvements needed to sustain a business in today’s increasingly changing environment.

Three different courses are currently being offered as part of this series.

Advanced Lean Thinking – Continuous Flow Systems is designed for managers, supervisors, and entrepreneurs in the wood products industry who are familiar with basic lean thinking concepts and want to learn how to apply more advanced lean concepts in their business. It will focus on continuous flow concepts (e.g., one-piece work flow and cellular manufacturing) to help make materials and information flow more efficiently within businesses to better target actual demand. The workshop will take place on Friday, March 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the USDA Forest Service’s Wood Education Resource Center in Princeton, W.Va. Register online. For more information, e-mail Earl Kline or call (540) 231-8841.

Advanced Lean Thinking – Pull Systems, also intended for those familiar with basic lean thinking concepts, will focus on pull concepts (e.g., supermarket systems, kanban signaling techniques, and load leveling methods) to improve the flow materials and information and target actual demand. The workshop will also provide guidance on how managers, supervisors, and entrepreneurs in the wood products industry can apply these concepts to their operations. It will take place on Wednesday, April 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the USDA Forest Service’s Wood Education Resource Center in Princeton, W.Va. Register online. For more information, e-mail Kline or call (540) 231-8841.

Learning to See for Managers, Supervisors, and Entrepreneurs will provide managers, supervisors, and entrepreneurs with a basic understanding of value stream mapping, a key lean thinking tool to help see waste in day-to-day operations. It will also provide guidance for the next steps in assessing opportunities for businesses in implementing lean principles into their operations. This evening workshop will be offered at four different locations across Virginia. The first session is on Thursday, April 15, from 4:30 to 9 p.m. at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon. Details for the remaining sessions — Wednesday, May 5, in Virginia Beach; Thursday, May 6, in Danville; and Thursday, Aug. 5, in Harrisonburg — will be finalized soon. Register online. For more information, e-mail Bill Worrell or call (276) 889-8056 at Virginia Cooperative Extension, or e-mail Urs Buehlmann or call (540) 231-9759 at the Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products.