Tony Creek at Brighton Cabinetry sums up his program in one simple phrase. “Recycling isn’t costing us money, it is saving us money. In fact, we make a little too.”
Started in 1996, Brighton Cabinetry is a mid to high-end cabinet company in Neoga. IL, that makes a totally custom line of cabinets. On my recent visit to Brighton, VP Tony Creek was highlighting their focused program on saving money in manufacturing by recycling in several different ways.
“In 2006 we had a 30 yard dumpster that we sent out 28 times a year. Each dumpster cost us $400 to haul away. Now dumpsters are up to $500 a load, but we are only sending 6 a year” said Creek.
As I toured the very clean plant, I saw several innovations in recycling that not only helped reduce cost but also manufacturing time.
The most obvious cost savings came from sending all their waste plywood and solid wood to a grinder. This grinded wood is mixed in with the sawdust through an efficient dust collection system and then stored in semi trailers set up to handle wood dust. A local wood recycler who pays for the semi loads and uses them for turkey and animal bedding owns the trailer. When the animal bedding is soiled, it is spread on the fields as fertilizer
Tony Creek highlighted the grinder as a focus for the plant. Not only does the grinder take the excess, it also caused us to focus on how much waste we were creating. This started our project managers to look at the cut yields and improved how much wood we were actually using per project. Our total waste has gone down on each job.” As the savings were realized in the wood waste, Brighton then saw other ways to increase manufacturing speed by cutting out excessive packaging arriving from their suppliers.
“We used to get our doors individually packaged from our supplier” said Creek., But as they looked at the amount of cardboard and plastic wrap needed for this shipping, Brighton saw another way to save. “We worked with our door supplier to send in our doors on pallets interleaved with cardboard sheets. The pallets and sheets are saved and eventually shipped back to the door manufacturer to reuse. This has eliminated loads of packaging waste, and it has also sped up our door assembly line. By not having to unwrap each door we can pull out the doors much faster. We were worried that we would see an increase in door damage, but that has not happened“ said Creek.
As a member of the Environmental Stewardship Council, and a KCMA Company, Brighton continues to look for other ways to reduce, reuse and eliminate extra steps in their process. Foam sent in by suppliers is saved to package their own cabinets. Cardboard is baled and sold off. Aluminum recycle centers are strategically located throughout the plant..