|âIn South Carolina, small manufacturers account for 97 percent of the wood industry. They are critical to the economy.â â Ed Maier|
|A Success Story|
Fairforest Lumber Sales Inc., a manufacturer of pre-cut lumber in specified grades and size that serves the southeastern United States, employs 30 people at its facility, with average annual sales between $4-5 million.
A classic bottleneck problem existed at Fairforest. After the product was graded and sorted, it was distributed to various locations on the company grounds. This method of processing required many non-value-added steps, especially in queue times where the product was waiting for further processing.
An SCMEP Manufacturing Specialist was invited to visit the plant and offered a plan of action to address the issue. Partnering with Fairforest, SCMEP designed a new facility layout that eliminated as many of the non-value-added steps from its processing as possible. With engineering assistance, measurements of workspace requirement dimensions and current machine dimensions were gathered for the new layout design.
SCMEP also assisted the company personnel with capacity analysis and establishing basic labor standards to be used in scheduling, costs and variance analysis.
Fairforest says it has increased and retained sales in the amount of $1.2 million and experienced cost savings of $400,000. The company also indicated it has increased utilization of technology, enhanced productivity and implemented better business management processes.
Maier: In the project, SCMEP looks to improve the economic competitiveness of South Carolinaâs wood products manufacturers. Experienced manufacturing specialists, wood industry experts, educational resources and forestry service resources are provided, in partnership, to address key issues this industry is facing that impact business health. We provide hands-on manufacturing business evaluation and assistance, as well as implement new technology, worker education and productivity solutions. We provide marketing and exporting advice, and incorporate the resources of the Wood Education Resource Center (WERC), specifically resources that assist with safe and effective integration of the growing Hispanic employee base, the incorporation of technologies that prevent the spread of invasive species, waste minimization and innovative wood industry technologies. SCMEP has formed partnerships with WERC, Clemson University, South Carolina Forestry Service and other Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers to implement the program.
W&WP: What do the SCMEPâs alliances and partnerships with schools,
agencies and organizations encompass, and how do they work?
Maier: SCMEPâs Manufacturing Education program, in partnership with the South Carolina Technical College system, provides training courses and informational events to manufacturers throughout the State of South Carolina. This benefit is offered to ensure South Carolina manufacturers have the resources needed to find necessary and up-to-date training, in an affordable format. Courses range from lean manufacturing to ISO conformance to a wide range of other manufacturing and business management topics.
SCMEP also partners with governmental agencies and affiliated organizations to ensure provision of cutting edge research and advisory services. These public and private partnerships help small manufacturers compete at a global level, sharing best practices, processes and technologies of worldwide manufacturing operations. SCMEP also has strong relationships with many private consultants and third-party vendors throughout South Carolina. Working with outside consultants ensures that SCMEP provides the most up-to-date and professional services available to its manufacturing clients.
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