Timberline Cabinetry & Millwork pretty much does it all. Founded by Kent Swinson and Tim White in 1999, the Manhattan, Kansas-based company produces commercial casework and architectural millwork, along with residential cabinetry and a host of home organization products, such as closets, laundry rooms and garage solutions marketed under the HangUps by Timberline brand.

“Most shops tend to do either commercial or residential, or the ones that do both tend to do either finished work or laminate work – but we do all of it,” Swinson said. “Basically, if it is made out of wood or wood products, we tackle it. We believe that gives us a leg up because we can do the entire package. When we get our foot in the door with a customer or general contractor, they know they can come to us anytime for any projects because of the range of things we can do.”

Projects are split roughly 90 percent commercial, 10 percent residential, with customers located primarily in Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma. “Our commercial projects include schools, hospitals, law offices and libraries, universities, dental clinics and medical labs,  with residential work including cabinetry and closets,” he added.

But while the “doing it all” approach has proven successful for Timberline, until recently it also created an organizing nightmare in the production process. “We faced the same problem that everyone in our industry faces, which is when it comes time to start putting products together, you end up with a haystack of parts for the all the products that are in the work order you are building. You need all the parts for the cabinet, but you have parts for 50 cabinets and the challenge is to find just the 10 you need for the very first cabinet you are making. In so doing you are probably touching 80 or 90 percent of the parts to find the ones you need to make a single cabinet. The process had been an enormous waste of time and something we had struggled with for years.”

Timberline partnered with RSA Solutions for a software solution to the sorting problem. RSA customized its Production Coach manufacturing execution system, providing the exact solution needed. Production Coach provides a 360-degree view of the factory, from CAD/CAM importing, through planning, sorting, tracking, automated machine feedback, part alerts, visualization, kitting and shipping – all in real time and without the need for physical files.

“The software gives us the ability to scan a part and have it tell us where to put it and which cabinet it was designed for, but it can do so much more than that,” said Swinson. “We needed a way to manage that stack of parts, which might have the parts for 50 cabinets, times 10 parts a piece. There could be 500 parts to dig through but the software allows you to scan every single part, one a time, and it tells you what slot to put it in, which means you are only touching each part one time. That is a major improvement over the old way.”

A 300 percent increase in production throughput and efficiency, in fact.

Eight people work in the office and 13 in the shop at Timberline’s 20,000-square-foot facility. “We are able to put three times more volume through that same department, using the same amount of square footage, the same amount of equipment and essentially with one-half of a person more,” Swinson added.

The software also has a built-in function that enables scanning of products, kits and pallets at shipping to ensure 100 percent accurate shipments, 100 percent of the time.

“There is a whole host of benefits that we have received from the software besides the part alerts, sorting and tracking,” he added. Production Coach also provides information on a weekly and monthly basis on how many remakes were needed and why. “This information is provided at each one of the workstations so that everyone in the plant knows without leaving their area,” said Swinson.

Modular in nature, Production Coach allows users to tailor the software to their specific needs, with as many stations in the shop and office as desired, with the ability to pick the features for each particular station. “Parts sorting is only the tip of the iceberg of what most people will use it for,” Swinson said. “We continue to find new uses for it.”

Sponsored by RSA Solutions. For information on RSA's software solutions, visit RSASolutions.us.

For more on Timberline Cabinetry & Millwork visit TimberlineUSA.net.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.