Adapting Value Stream Mapping to Circular Product Flows. : From Manufacturing to Equipment Rental.
Abstract: The rise of the sharing economy is forcing industries to move from traditional take-make-waste economy towards circular ones (Schuttelaar & Partners, 2019). Along with the increasing influence of e-commerce, supply-chain collaboration and globalization has increased the pressure of warehouse operations and requires more efficient operations with the use of less resources thanever before (Frazelle, 2016). Lean is a concept that has gained attention as a means of doing morewith less, through reducing wastes and continuously improving, which has been successful within the manufacturing sector. The difficulties of translating this concept into non-repetitive environments has contributed to the low level of adoption within industries like construction. Where companies within construction equipment rental have an even greater challenge, dealing with circular product flows. Thus, making their warehousing operations inherently complex along with the large amounts of different products. The thesis has focused on analysing the warehouse operations flow of collective fall protectionproducts in the equipment rental industry, from customer order to customer return. This has been enabled by performing an adapted Value Stream Mapping method in a new setting for equipmentrental industries. Where Value Stream Mapping traditionally is applied in manufacturing to visually represents the actions that are required for a product to move through the production andinformation flows. The purpose of the study is to apply VSM beyond manufacturing and tosummarize the results in order to provide suggestions for improving the handling of non-serialized products within the equipment rental industry. A case company within the equipment rental industry has been used to meet the purpose of the study by testing and evaluating the proposed frame work. The findings have been followed up by performing a return handling study, conducted by equipment rental professionals, which has been subject to a statistical analysis. The findings from the VSM are used as a foundation for the return handling study, which serves as a means of verifying or dismissing them. These are then summarized in suggestions for improvements to the case company and suggestions for future actions. Among the findings are indications of longer return times for products that are not forewarned prior to returns, and increase processing rates for sorted returns. Furthermore three product types were more frequently requiring repairs, cleaning and scrapping compared to other products, suggesting that these requiremore time to process. The company is advised to work with standardizing processes for return handling throughout the organization within invoicing specifications and product storage. Suggestions for future research within the subject area is also presented.
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