North-South Collaboration for a Manufacturing Extension Program Development: Case of Secondary Manufacturing Industries in Indiana and Cameroon
This research was performed to foster collaboration between northern countries (Indiana in the USA) and southern countries (Cameroon in Sub-Saharan Africa) through a manufacturing extension program. The United Nations organization instituted north-south cooperation to transfer knowledge from developed countries to underdeveloped nations. This cooperation has taken many forms, from university cooperation to technical assistance programs. One of the major forms it has embraced today is international extension programs. The extension is not new in the agriculture sector in most Sub-Saharan African countries. The most prominent type of extension practice in this region is the train and visit program. With this program, field agents are charged to move to farm cooperatives and provide them with relevant skills in farming. On the other hand, this form of assistance has not been practiced in the manufacturing sectors. The secondary wood manufacturing industry needs such a program to provide its specialists with innovative furniture and cabinet manufacturing practices to compete within their country and worldwide. Consequently, an analysis of the furniture and cabinet design process was done through a survey, accompanied by an assessment of the manufacturing practices of this sector in Cameroon. The analysis results showed that furniture manufacturers in this sector need to upgrade their knowledge in product design and the usage of computer-aided design software to facilitate this process. Also, the study asserts that production techniques related to drying lumber, processing, assembly, and finishing need a considerable upgrade to reach international standards. Finally, the study proposed a manufacturing extension program through the Cooperation of Purdue University and Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association in the United States of America. Through this cooperation, secondary wood products manufacturers will gain state-of-the-art manufacturing practices to enhance their enterprises’ performance.