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Manufacturing Process details5/22
Hi everyone! i am so glad to find this forum, and I will be happy to contribute in any way I can. I've also let the owner of my company know about it so he can sign up.
I started at a cabinet manufacturer as the process coordinator last week, and one of the main things I need to do now is to get a clear picture of what steps are included in each manufacturing area. I don't have a woodworking background, or else this would be easy. I have gotten SOME information from the guys and girls in the shop, but most are putting this off, and I am getting nowhere. I would love if someone on this forum could let me know the steps they take in a cabinet manufacturing warehouse to complete the processes below:
Even if you only pick one area, knowing those steps would REALLY help!
What you have listed above kind of are the steps. You need to machine (CNC), then edgeband, then Assemble.
Finishing would be a parallel process to machine and edgeband, so finished parts could arrive at assembly at the same time. Planning for this can be difficult as finishing usually takes much longer than machining and edgebanding.
If you want a breakdown of the individual steps, refer to the user manuals for the machines.
Hope you didn't call them guys and girls when you asked for them to provide information. They are professionals. Curious what qualifications you provided to get that job, since it wasn't experience based.
Thanks, JM. I actually am starting to hear back from some of the employees, so that's good., I checked out the manuals, and they helped a bit!
Hi Rich-- I have the bad habit of calling everyone guys/girls-- I did it when i worked at a university with people who have Phd.'s and get mad if you forget to put "Dr." before their name, as well. It isn't something I do out of disrespect, just habit.
This is an administrative position, and I have 15+ years experience with process management, efficiency work and streamlining as well. I actually got hired for an entry-level woodworking position, and after I met with them again, they offered me this position as well because of my qualifications. I chose this position.
It's funny that you responded that way, Rich-- just because I am having some trouble (it's just the second week, but still) getting the info I need from the woodworking professionals :) I am trying to learn as much as I can about cabinetry and woodworking so that I am not just dumbly trying to make the jobs run more efficiently, but obviously that takes time. I am pretty laid back, friendly, and get along with most people, but I think it might take awhile to get respect from some of them(because I don't know that much about it). Any tips?
Hey Family Man, thanks for your response. First, without knowledge of each and every part of the manufacturing process (I am studying, but I have only been here a week), learning each step by watching would take quite a long time compared to just having them write down the steps (The Finishing and Sanding person did theirs in just a couple minutes each). Secondly, my boss asked me to do it this way, so I don't know how doing it differently would look so early-- probably not good. You're right, I shouldn't have to bother them. They are crazy busy, and often working with saws and such as well. In a perfect world, the foreman or project manager would be able to sit down with me and go over all of those steps, but that's a no-go (I have emailed both of them and no response). It's too bad, but I am hoping that the people who are holding out will cooperate soon (for my sake-- knowing this process is the basis of my job as far as streamlining and production efficiency).
It wouldn't take that long to learn the steps in the shop. The work is repetitive so that you can see a lot of the same process in just a couple of minutes. Would also suggest that if you are doing a manual of processes, that you video what you see on the floor. Then you can go to a desk to type it out and see it as you are writing it.
Lauren, so you don't know woodworking...what are a bunch of words on a page written by non writers, using terms you don't know, probably written shorthand because they are busy, going to help you.
You know as a boss what I'd be really impressed by when I hired someone to fine solutions does- offer a solution upfront.
Lauren, My first job after getting an associate degree in 1972 was a 3rd shift burr bench operator in a factory. Anyone that showed up with a clipboard and a stop watch meant two things. My pay scale was going to be lowered since the work was easier than the last time it was evaluated, or my production rate of parts was going to be increased and I would do that for the same pay I got now. It can mean the same thing today with the addition of job layoffs and plant closures for a new plant in Mexico or Viet Nam. Trust has to be earned. When you ask them to give you all the details so you can write a report to impress your boss and possibly make their job harder, no one will be eager. They assume you are making more money than them since you work in the office, and it's a case of someone with no idea how to do my job is going to "improve it for company profit and same wages for me". Earning respect is hard. When you call them guys and gals, it does not show respect in my book, and that's why I asked. They know their trade, they sweat and eat dust all day to earn a living. I retired after 42 years. I can't count the number of people whom I helped build their career by making them look good for making a decision or writing a report on my efforts. Only had 1 really show appreciation for my skills and thank me. I blame your manager as much as you. He should have started you out as a helper on all those machines. Taken 6 months to learn skills. Do it first hand, get a blister or two, and learn the difficulties and bottle necks first hand. Then you or him buys sub sandwiches or pizza for lunch and ask the operators how the process can be improved. If he buys pizza, you buy donuts the next day. Also asking owners and professional woodworkers to take the time to write manufacturing processes on 4 or 5 work cells on here, after maybe working a 10 or 12 hour day, reminds me of the commercial running on TV. Neighbor asks if the person knows a house painter. You do? Fine, could you get me 6 quotes ............ A better approach here would be to ask for past research papers or text books used in woodworking training schools on manufacturing processes.
Products produced-euro cabinets are made differently than traditional, custom versus production, etc.
Tools available-CNC versus slider versus panel saw, pocket holes versus construction holes versus dowel construction, etc.
Materials used-MDF versus plywood, undermount versus side mount slides, etc.
Space available and material flow-are the relevant machines next to each other or does material need to be moved?
Machine and tool quality-are some machines being abandoned in favor of others?
Worker skill level-Are all workers fully trained on all machines or specialized?
Make or buy philosophy- are doors or boxes built in house or bought in?
Owner attitude and philosophy-Is more emphasis placed on production, work/life balance, safety, job enrichment, etc.?
Build only or build and install-does the company install what they make? Do they fully mock up each project in house before shipping?
These are just some of the items that led to the creation of the processes where you work and there are many more.
What I would suggest as a starting point is to make a list of all the raw materials that come in the door and make a list of all machinery in the plant. Then look at the final product and and make a list of everything that has changed on the final product compared to how it arrived, those are the steps that were taken. Then associate each of those steps to the machine and person doing those steps. From there, create a flow chart where and when each of those steps occur in the timeline and you've now developed your plant processes. Look for inconsistencies, do the steps change depending on who is doing the work or the type of project...you may end up with some alternative processes that warrant further investigation.
Improving those processes, that's a conversation to had after the current process is complete.
Maybe I am totally out of line, but may I suggest a book?
Maybe I am reading too much into the requested goals of your position. You have only talked about your task at the moment, but I think this is where your boss in heading whether he knows it or not.
To be clear, this book is not for employees, this is for you and your boss.
We are heading this direction. After we finish our move and get all our new machines and workstations set up initially, we will engage in this philosophy and change them all on a regular basis.
I plan on implementing many of the philosophy’s in the book, but not all. If that does not get me where I want to be, I plan on bringing in a consultant and go full in.
To quote a good friend “Lets make a plan…and then we’ll change it”
Go to the Gemba and watch whats going on. Sorry but we have no idea what you are doing or what your process are in your factory. Build yourself a rolling desk and move yourself onto the shop floor so you can watch and understand whats going on in your factory and be close to the people doing the job, they will tell and show you the process. You can't learn it in the office..
"In business, genba refers to the place where value is created; in manufacturing the genba is the factory floor."
Is Mel back?
Is Mel back?