Okay here's the deal--our place had a door gal but she got older and tired and retired. So instead of replacing her they began ordering doors from china.
Makes sense to me off the bat. But sometimes I wonder... So now we are surrounded in door mass order hell. You don;t just order one job, of course, you order a whack of jobs all together. Seems smart for sure. But then you factor in the fact that a) you have to order a group for shipment price logicistics b) they always need to be resanded/ tons need to be filled/fixed. c) you are trying to employ someone for this job which is super difficult because lets face it, its a shitty job.
I think that asking the department that made the doors to sand them, and no need to fix them on that scale, is easier than employing a full time kid to take care of the shitty preorders. but I'm not sure.... These things aren't that easy to calculate--lots of hidden costs.
I worked in logisitcs for a major outdoor equipment manufacturer. They sent me to school for production planning and I found out that in standard business costing of outsourced material, a lot of the time shipping isn't even factored when comparing pricing. (trust me folks because of that there will always be jobs in logistics)
Anyways, I digress... Anyone else going through this? Any insights?
Sounds like your getting what you're paying for.
How many of these doors are just flat out unuseable? What's your cost burden to return- identifying it as a problem, taking the flak off the customer, ordering it, tracking it, receiving it, finishing it (or does that become all of the above for someone else), transporting it, gaining access to reinstall it to find out A-the profiles are wrong or B- the color of the replacement doesn't match. Repeat above?
What if one springs out of sorts down the road? What's the lead on a single replacement? Is a single replacement available?
I build doors for some other shops/site builders- they all moan about how they have been getting doors for 19.00 from ???- Guess what, I know 19.00 a door guy vaporized 3 years ago, so why are they now here?
Why would you buy anything from a country that basically uses slave labor just to save a few bucks on crap. Somebody being paid a buck an hour, working 12 hours a day is not fully vested in the idea of quality...
Totally. You guys ever notice that there is some sort of strange mystique around door making? Not sure, just musing... But most of us make equivalent things, no? it's a floating panel in a frame. Not that I poopoo ordering doors from china, but I also think that getting an in house person to just process the whole damned things is not that unfathomable...
Example. Simple thing--zippers. good quality, water tight zippers. Plastics coming from China, fabric coming from Japan, eventually getting assembled in taiwan, getting shipped to a factory in China, who makes the jackets, sends them for shipping to different distribution centres--some of them coming back to the heart of China.
Business school is fantastic but it's often a decade late in systems. Think about gas prices in the last 10 years. Little different, no? What is all that shipping costing and what is being taken out of QC to accomodate for that to get you those low prices. And as one of you mentionned, labour strikes in China. Demands for more salary. As they should, of course. But still low prices on merchandise. Where is that money being taken away from in the production process?
So Cabmaker--what is your turn around time on a return? Do they cover the shipping? Have you noticed less shitty doors coming in since you started being a hardass about the quality? (as you should, really)
Some things just aren't worth it. I suspect if all the "hidden" costs are added up there is little $ savings and a lot of PIA cost. I don't know how you calculate quality savings/costs but it isn't just $. A "fixed" door is rarely as good as a well made door. It is easier to keep a good customer than find a replacement for an unhappy one. There are lots of door makers in the US and you will know your costs up front. I try to stock as little as I can of everything. Inventory uses up space, has an ongoing $ cost. I may not follow LEAN precisely but I understand the principles and what is being done here to bulk buy doors doesn't fit LEAN.
So this has been very insightful. A couple days ago our aggravated teenage door sanding employee quit. Can't blame him. So I naturally got assigned to be the door sander--Boxing dept is busy, painters are busy, but not specialties. And I'm the youngest in the shop and their only apprentice.
After reading these replies, I paid close attention to the whole door process and saw the following problems:
Doors get ordered from china. Our insanely busy coordinator divides them per job based on style and approximate packaging of supplier. Disgruntled teenager sands them poorly. Doors get sent to the paint shop. They get stained/painted, chunk of them come back for repairs (usually our department that stops what they are doing to resand/fix them)then get reprocessed by the paint shop. Then, after they get finished (again) the atrociously busy coordinator measures them, double checks the order and that everything is to size and complete, they get hinged, cleaned, wrapped, and sent out.
Returning a damaged door to China? No way, no time, when you double check your order a the end of your processing. You are already close to your deadline. So more expensive workers are being stopped to get
the crap stored on top of the shaper off, then to fabricate their own doors to replace the ones that really, should have been warrantied by the supplier.
Can you read the money hemorraging from the company at each one of these steps? Thank god it's not my money. But I still care.
So the simplest of things--I'm a more experienced and expensive employee, but if I do door sanding, they get inspected and the packing list gets compared to the order immediately. So if there are returns, or missing items, they get proccessed, alerted to management, sent back while we still have time. Repairs get documented and charged back to the supplier.
Everyone is marvelling at their nightmare door situation magically getting simpler and higher quality since i have been at it. Now is the morale of the story--pay your door sander more to get someone better in and/or establish a firm SOP that you inforce?
I set down tonight to prepare for a class I teach Thursday and have done nothing so far but clog your post. That said, you've got me in the bull pen warming up for class.
What you're facing is what American manufacturing is facing--how do I bring manufacturing back to the USA? As with your door lady, 10,000 Baby Boomers are reaching 65 years old everyDAY. This will continue until 2030. Middle class labor is up in China and the products that were "no brainers" a few years back are now about the same cost after shipping (and in your case quality) as what can be done here. The challenge is finding the labor to do these tasks from our current workforce. My, and many other's opinion, is that you've got to grow your own whether it is an apprentice or older worker that needs the hours and income. When you crunch the numbers on the holding cost of the foreign doors I teach that is costs 25% of the value of the doors (or anything else) annually. On the surface this seems like a lot, but considering cost of capital, storage space, obsolescence, quality, counting, damage, people to move inventory around, etc. it adds up fast. I did this for a Fortune 50 company and it is a good number, I believe. No magic bullets here, but a couple of nuggets you can consider. PP
I was at a Fanuc open house last week. They put on a presentation on manufacturing returning to the US. An interesting slide in the presentation showed cost of labor and energy to produce things. Europe was 10-18% more than USA but China is now only 5% less than USA. Companies are coming back. Obviously they were showing how robotics are playing a role in that and the technology is amazing. Check you tube for fanuc robotics and you can see what I'm talking about.
I joined this industry because it is a little low tech. But then I worked a bit for a friend of mine who is a graphic designer who baught a CNC. He now teaches a CNC course for engineers at the university. Holy.... The things that man can make. I'm not sure which side of the fence I am on that one--I do just like both.
Although--perhaps a happy marriage of things.... I asked him about wood carving, if it would really be killed by CNCs and he said that for now at least, even if a sculpter has a CNC, it, at this point, only cuts out his base. Chisels are still coming out. I like that :)
PP, so hidden costs are so freaking hard to descifer I think. The common opinion in our shop is "doors were never a problem when mrs jones made em. Top notch, perfect inventory, never need inventorying. etc" But then I also wonder, are we just not managing this new system right? You are very correct, it's hard to really pinpoint I think. Perhaps a case by case basis?
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