Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Engineering (M.S.E.)

Degree Program

School of Engineering


Works have been written on the applications of lean principles and methods to product development, manufacturing, and the office. However, works written on the applications applied to research and development and custom product development processes have been exclude because of the inherent variability in the product design process. This work applied lean principles and tools to custom product development processes. A furniture company with $1.3 billion in annual sales, custom product development process was studied and lean principles, behaviors, and tools were applied using a traditional six step approach mixed with nontraditional practices as well. Within the six steps, the approach negated the differences in the products, and their quantities, which high-volume low-mix is based, and focused on capturing and creating common processes or methods used to make the variety of custom products requested, in low-volume, high-mix processes. Once the common activities were standardized, waste was identified and eliminated through kaizens just like traditional lean practices. This methodology of mixing traditional and non-traditional lean tools can be applied to any high mix or variable process such as custom industries: custom bearings or custom cabinetry and this paper provides businesses with example of how lean methods and tools can be applied to a variable process, like a custom development process.

Included in

Engineering Commons