I am looking for some ideas about how many cabinets per day an experienced assembler can put together. (The criteria are as follows: the cabinet parts are cut and ready for assembly, these are kitchen cabinets base and wall, the base cabinets have in integral toe, the cabinets are glued screwed and pocket holed together.) Let’s forget about faceframes, forget about corner cabinets, and forget about finished ends to keep the sample more accurate. I say a good assembler can put 15-20 cabinets together per day. What does everyone else think?
From contributor S:
There is a wide variety of variables that would affect the number significantly - tooling, experience, bench space, etc. But given the example above, if there is absolutely no milling required as you described, then I think your estimate of 15-20 might be doable under the right production circumstances. I have no idea what your production set up looks like, maybe it's perfect for all I know. But I also know that the lack of production isn't always about the guys at the bench – sometimes it's about everything else.
Every once a while I will think to myself "man they are taking forever to do that" so I pull out my tools and show them what I expect and how I expect them to do it and at what speed I expect it done. The guys that have been with me for a while will usually just pick things up if I threaten to do this because they don't like to be embarrassed. I have had them struggle with a particular process and ask me to work next to them so they could learn to do it faster or to prove that I can't do it faster but the later doesn't happen too often.
I have found that this is the best way to show my guys what I want and help them learn tricks that I have picked up over the years. It also saves me from having to hear "it can't be done that fast".
A typical day is not 8 hours hard at work. It's 5-10 minutes in the morning getting "warmed up" and work orders/schedules discussed, two 10 minute OSHA mandated breaks with 3-5 minutes afterwards to "get back to it", a minimum half hour lunch with 5-10 minutes afterwards to organize yourself, tools, and parts before you get back to work, a couple of short breaks (2-3 minutes each) for water and restroom, and a normal slowing in the afternoon due to becoming tired from working, etc. Thus, in a normal workday you'll get maybe 6 hours of production time.
10 minutes per cab in 6 hours is 36 cabinets per day in a shop. Anyone who expects more than that from an employee is unrealistic. Knowing that unhappy employees leads to unmet production schedules, I'd have to say that somewhere around 30 cabs per day, day-in/day-out, rain or shine, is more realistic for a good assembler who knows his job and is happy with his working conditions.
If you have employees this dedicated to your business I have no doubt in my mind that they would give you more than everything they have, so long as you explain the situation, and when all is said and down don't be selfish with the profit you made for their hard work including yours. I know that you put your life into your business, but an employee needs to be taken care of for when he/she goes go above and beyond and sacrifices extra time for you business. This is what I have experienced. In your life take care of the employees that help take care of you and they will always be there to help carry the shop out of a hard place. Expect them to carry you and they won't be there for long.