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How do you handle job-specific hardware components, logistically, in shop?8/9
Good day all,
We are looking for ways we can learn from other shops on how to keep all the misc. hardware and small components for jobs flowing through the shop appropriately.
Assume a shop that's building an average of 15 to 20 cabinets a day. Roughly 8-12 people building and installing.
I'm not talking about mass quantity items most of us keep in stock (common hinges, plates, drawer guides, etc) but rather the stuff that is ordered specifically for each job.
In our case, that can be large boxes (lazy suzans) to very small boxes (a couple specialty hinges).
In our case, they are ordered at the same time we order doors and specialty sheet goods.
Any given job could have a 50 items coming from 15 different vendors. We do OK at keeping the various order tickets and such organized, but it gets to be rather onerous when you have multiple large jobs active in the shop.
How do you guys keep track of everything coming in?
Do you have one person that does all the receiving/check-in?
Where do you send those items when they arrive? Do you store them near the cabinet assembly area?
Any advice and success stories would be quite helpful, many thanks!!
This is a really simple project for a database. The database could be as simple as a piece of paper laminated onto a clipboard.
What you are dealing with is something a retail store would call an SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)
The essential fields you would care about are:
CUSTOMER: Who it was bought for
Go to U-Line or Grainger or Home Depot and buy a couple dozen of their largest plastic containers. Put a number on each tub and arrange the containers in chronological order.
Develop some kind of labeling protocol to indicate whether or not a container is empty and available. (This can be as simple as a sock on the door knob like back in college).
When a piece of hardware arrives you find an empty bin and write down the bin number into the database.
If you want to get fancy you can add more fields and manage it electronically with an iPhone, iPad, or browser.
Dont over complicate it. Try ordering from fewer vendors. If the prices are close, get them to match, or just suck it up and pay the little bit extra. There are costs involved with using mulitple vendors such as time to order, freight costs, book keeping, cheque writing, etc. Take a little stress away from your day to day and simplify this.
Designate an area in the shop, whether its a cart, a corner, or shelves. When the specialty hardware arrives, write on the box with a sharpie which job its for and put it in its place.
Any items you special order frequently such as lazy susans, spice pullouts, garbages, etc, Just order a bunch and inventory them like you do hinges.
I would suggest that you use the large tubs mentioned before. However, I would use a tub or 2 for each order. All of the parts needed for that order go into that tub(s). So when looking for the part for that order, if should be in that tub. Label the tub with the order number when the order is created so that as parts come in they can go into the tub.
Have whoever receives the parts, put it into the proper tub when it arrives. This will keep everything together.
The tub thing is helpful for smaller items, but if you look at one of our larger jobs (which is about half or 2/3 of our business) you'll see a LOT of large boxes-- they may be skinny, shaped like a pizza box, but often are like 25x25" and won't fit in any reasonable size tub.
I think I will talk to the shop guys and with our purchasing guy to see if the tubs would still help further. Currently we just leave stuff it it's shipping box, label it by job and contents, and set it on a rolling bookshelf where that job's stuff gets consolidated.
I think the tub would help some, perhaps with some useful color coding.
You might want to consider some kind of self-adhesive label you can apply to the edge of each box as it comes into your building. As mentioned before these labels could list whatever field descriptions you think are salient to describe your product. You should be able to either have a local printer produce these or possibly find a service for custom post-it notes like this online.
If you have as many items to manage as you say then you obviously need to have some kind of shelving system to store them. Design your shelves like the grocery store. There is a reason they have labels over the top of the aisle.
It is a good that you are paying attention to materials management. Of all the events we have to manage materials are the only one that agree to be compliant. Materials will behave exactly as you ask them to.
Materials nominally run about 25 - 30 % of our sell price. The actual cost of material includes all the costs from the point of ordering them until they are all the way in the cabinet. This costs include storage & retrieval but they also include all the minutes you spend in the easter egg hunts trying to find them. A minute spent in retrieval costs you exactly as much as a minute spent in production and the cost of that minute comes out of same profit bucket production does.
If you want to lower your costs of material as much as possible you should start at the ordering process and try to integrate this into the receiving process. The boxes you receive may be really big and random in shape but they all are associated with a job. If each job is assigned a number you have a common denominator to compare as you are scanning all these disparate packages.
The problem with relying on vendor packaging is that they are all so random. Sometimes your crew gets trained to look for an item in a blue and white box but can't recognize the same item if it shows up in a silver box because your vendor changed suppliers or you changed vendors.
Each of your projects has a variety of parts that will be showing up but each project has only one customer number.
Sometimes the problem comes from not remembering to order the item. Sometimes it comes from not knowing whether or not it has arrived. If it hasn't arrived it needs to be bird-dogged because not having it in the building when you need it will cost way more than simply buying it.
Standardization is your friend.
Is easy to blow this off when times are fat but hard to implement when they are not. The Wall Street Journal right now is filled with stories of white knuckled CEOs who say they should have gotten costs under control much sooner or wish they would have paid more attention to the landscape shifts.
Is easy to blow off when times are fat.
Excellent points Cabmaker. It's almost like you've been in our shop ;) we do use a shelf system with labels, but frustratingly even those become burdensome. It's something we've tried to refine over the years and are way better now than we once were. Our market now is a lot more hardware-saturated than it once was, and diverse, so the system we had needs adapting.