|Home » Forums » Business » Message||Login|
You are not logged in. Consider these WOODWEB Member advantages:
Door vendor lead times5/18
I've been outsourcing my cabinet doors since I started in this business in 1991, and before that the guys I worked for outsourced their cabinet doors. The lead times have not evolved in the past 30 years. Why is that? In this day and age of Just in Time manufacturing, why has there been no improvement? I know that they can build a door in a matter of minutes, why must I wait 2 weeks? I know it's a matter of buffering. The bigger the buffer, the more able they are to deal with fluctuations. No doubt this is good for them, but this is not good for me the customer. I think it's past time that the door vendors collectively start to find ways of decreasing their lead times. Let's aim for 1 week, that seems more than reasonable to me.
That is exactly why we developed door and drawer box fabrication ability.
Whenever production would stop on a cabinet it had something to with a door or drawer box that wasn't in the building.
These guys need to google "bucket brigade manufacturing"
Our solution to this issue is how and when we order doors in our internal process.
==> Please note that this works for our sized company. It may not work well for others. <==
As soon as we receive a signed order with a check from a customer, we start the engineering process. Using our software we can size the doors within a few minutes. We then request a quote for the doors from our door supplier. By looking at our own production schedule we can determine if we will order them with the normal delivery time (typically 5-8 working days plus shipping), or if we need a rush order (typically 3-5 working days plus shipping). Rarely do we ever need to place a rush order.
We typically receive the written quote (via email) within 24 hours. At that time we double check all of the quantities, sizes, specs, etc. If everything is ok, we release the order for production with an emailed Production Release (a simple "please process quote #so-and-so").
Very often the doors have arrived and are waiting their turn in our Production Queue for further processing (finishing, hinge-boring, assembly) for a week or two.
We typically have a turn-around time from initial customer order and check to delivery of about 6-8 weeks. Ordering doors is rarely an issue.
If the project is not due to start production for several months, we will still get the quote, but delay releasing the order until a more appropriate time.
Short answer: we adjusted our internal processes to accommodate the vendors whose products, terms, and service we prefer and makes our business work efficiently and be the most profitable.
No, it is not always Just-In-Time delivery. We only order per project (we do not build anything on speculation). Our typical project has less than 10 doors, so storage is not a major issue. The amount of storage space that is needed for doors (hardware, etc.) arriving sooner than is needed is more than offset by the advantage of having everything needed on assembly day.
And, although we have the equipment to make our own doors, we happily outsource them. For us, it is a good business decision for our company. YMMV.
Obviously after having ordered doors for 28 years, several thousand projects with probably 100,000 doors we have also learned to adapt our methods to work with typical lead times. But as we have grown, the kinds of logistical issues that weren't a problem before have now become one. Furthermore, expectations and design styles have put more pressure on our own lead times. A couple of examples:
Contemporary styling has us building many projects in homes that no longer have applied moldings for base and casing. This has led to a reduction in necessary cabinet clearances and it is not uncommon for us to be expected to place cabinets with nothing more than 1/4" to 1/2" reveals. This means final measurements cannot be taken until after corner bead, which means about a 2 to 3 week construction window.
Granite countertops used to arrive 2 to 3 weeks after templates, now its 1 week.
Hardwood floors used to be hand layed and site finished taking 2 to 4 weeks. Now, predominantly, they are prefinished and installed in a few days.
Point being, the rest of the constuction industry has sped up and the windows we used to rely on for outsourcing have shrunk. The door vendors, I feel, need to keep pace. I am not a door vendor, so it is not my job to figure out how to accomplish this. I have my own lead time initiatives to worry about. In fact lead time reduction is my primary driving philosophy. So I am left to wonder how it is even possible that no improvement has been made in this area in the last 30 years. It has to be because there has been no pressure applied to do so.
Let me suggest that the door vendors would reduce their lead times without outside pressure if not for the mere fact of economics. The longer they hold your order out, the longer it takes for them to get their money. The longer it takes for them to produce the product, the more it cost them to produce the product. Therefore, it would be into the company's best interest to reduce lead times in order to make more money. Why else would they be in business except to make money?
The "two week" delivery is not always true. I have received doors in 7 days before, and I have had to wait over 3 weeks before. Its all about supply, demand, and production capacity.
The steps in production are:
Some of these steps could be combined especially 6&7 where the use of a planer/sander would do double duty. 2&4 could be combined with a glue line producing straight line rip saw. No matter what, all these steps and processes take time. I didn't even mention the fact that the parts have to be moved from one machine to the next and regardless that method, it takes time as well. There is also the paperwork time of getting the work orders prepared and the billing and invoicing. There are also time users in the process of culling stock and quality control.
There is however, one step I see that is currently being shortened considerably. Technology now has developed CNC equipment that allow a door to be placed on a pod&rail machine that can be controlled through scan codes that will size, shape, and sand the outside edge of the door all in one operation. That will knock off a few minutes off of each door. That tech currently costs north of a half million dollars for the machine not counting the tooling and sander head cost which could easily be 2500.00 per profile.
From what I see in the industry, door suppliers want to get the lead times down, and I think they are working on that. But the cost do so is very high and the processes are just too numerous to make any significant advances.
At least, that is my opinion.
There are door companies that will ship doors within one week. Will they have the profiles, pricing and quality you want? You can't have it all. I'm sure there are those that would do it for you for a premium in a very, very small margin business.
To me this is really about other issues.
If you can't estimate drywall finished thickness within a 1/4" why do you expect door shops to provide doors within a week? Seems like the problem you are presented with is much easier to solve than the problem you are asking others to solve.
If you don't have enough influence or are not willing to use it with your contractors and clients to say three weeks is not enough time to make a custom product worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars then I would take a hard look at that. Imagine trying to get a custom made car, motorcycle or boat made in that timeframe by some of the most recognizable names in the world. They'll politely tell you that is not how it works and have the clout to back it up. It simply won't happen no matter how loaded you are. In fact this can be a selling feature. Good things take time.
In my shop we can and often do make jobs in under six weeks but my clients know that is the very minimum. After we've been paid in full, measurements are taken, drawings approved, samples signed and then the clock starts and if you are loyal customer/GC in good standing we will promise you six weeks. I'm simply not interested in less. You can have it.
Most door shops want to be everything to everybody. Do you seriously need 100 edge profile choices, 48 cope/stick patterns and 25 panel raise choices for a door? Oh let's thrown in 25 different wood species on top of that.
All of these choices create economic and time inefficiencies in their operation. If they only offered a few woods and few patterns and kept stile and rail material in stock , and edge glued panels in stock lead time could dramatically improved. I'm sure prices could be dramatically improved as well.
There was a brief period of time many years ago when I was first learning about the concepts of TOC that I thought outsourcing was incompatible with our daily batch-flow mentality, and we brought door production in -house. We also brought our dovetail drawer production in-house. At the time we were producing about 5 cabinets a day, which was about $80,000 a month. 5 cabinets a day requires about 15 doors and drawer fronts and 2 or 3 endpanels. We were able to produce the doors we needed for the days batch within 24 hours using the overnight for glued up panels. We did this in a minimum of square footage with rudimentary equipment. It's been a long time since I've looked at door making equipment, I wonder if it may be time to revisit the idea. My drawer vendor's cnc dovetailer takes up the space of a larger shaper. What kinds of advancements have been made in small batch door making equipment in the last 15 years?
We would need to produce 50 doors and 20 drawers a day.
Both door vendors I know who've opened up their books to me operate on mid teen margins. They carry hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment debt and employee wages hover a few bucks over minimum wage with little to no benefits.
There is not a better deal going with a made in America product than cabinet door outsourcing. It's literally a race to the bottom in pricing with 90% of the doors being sold offered by everyone with price being the biggest differentiating factor to most shops.
Might a better approach be to approach a company and say this is the amount of doors I order a month (sweeten the pot with drawers), based off real rough calculations on the information you have provided my guess is you are ordering somewhere in the neighborhood between $30-60k of drawers and doors per month.
Now based off your per box cabinet number, which you admit is many years old, your profit margin on doors in literally going to be a fraction of what it would be making your own doors and drawers. Would it not be better to wave that amount of work in front of someone and say I need them in a week every time. Pay a premium of 15-20 percent so that your work gets priority in the front office and on the shop floor.
It would cost you far less then setting up a door making operation (which is a skill I might guess you or or your men know little about in a truly production environment) and get you the results you want. The only reason door vendors cannot do this is for financial reasons, take that off the table and let them do their job and keep your operation humming along.
Those are terrific ideas and ones I've already explored. I had just such an arrangement with two local companies until one got swallowed up by Conestoga and the other expanded and decided it wasn't sustainable to offer an expedited product at my volume. I tried it with 2 more companies and they couldn't sustain it either. I will keep trying, because I think the idea makes sense.
I am confident American out of Yakima could do this for you on those terms and Panhandle has their business cleaned up and fixed are regularly get us unfinished doors in one week and finished doors in two.
What kind of doors are you typically buying, D? Flat panel or solid wood raised?