Determination of wood recovery in medium-scale furniture workshops in Uganda. The case of Mbawo Timber Works Limited.
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Challenges related to wood recovery have been identified as one of the factors leading to accelerated forest loss. This is because wood recovery is the most universally known measure of material efficiency in wood processing operations. As a tool, it can be used by furniture manufacturers to improve productivity, hence profitability in the workshop, in addition to saving our now endangered forests. This study was carried out in the production section of Mbawo Timber Works Limited (MTW), a medium to large scale furniture enterprise located in Wakiso district in central Uganda. The study set out to describe the furniture production process at MTW, obtain wood recovery at each node along the furniture production line, obtain the recovery of the process of assembling common articles produced as well as identify the factors that affect recovery in one way or another at MTW. Both survey and experimental approaches were used to achieve the set objectives. The furniture production process was described by following an article along the production process, describing every step along the production chain. Length, width and thickness measurements were then taken from randomly sampled items at a node prior to and after processing and the volume method employed to calculate recovery at each node. The initial volume of inputs and final volume of the product was also measured to calculate recovery of common products while purposively selected carpenters were interviewed using interview guides to identify the factors affecting recovery at MTW. The study found out that MTW employs the machining station approach of furniture production. The process consists of 11 stations, starting at the thicknesser machine and ending at the packaging station. There is significant variation in recoveries among the machining stations (p=0.00479) with the table saw recording the highest mean recovery of 96.7% and the thicknesser machine recording the lowest mean recovery of 85.47%. The mean recovery of composite flush doors was 46.76%, which was significantly higher than that of solid wood doors (p=0.00295) which was 39.18%. Additionally, use of defective timber was found to be the most common factor affecting wood recovery at MTW followed by poor timber management practices. The study recommends that MTW makes efforts to improve recovery in the workshop by addressing the issues discussed, while also producing composite flush doors more than solid wooden doors as their production process is more efficient and are therefore more efficient to produce.