Tracking work pieces to open up existing production capacity
February 26, 2017 | 9:23 pm CST
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Production Coach buzz at IWF 2016
Increasing output from the capacity you have is the holy grail of wood products manufacturers. To do so requires having your finger on what is happening to every item in production at every stage.
 
While technology has been advancing continuously, it remains a daunting challenge to link individual machines into a plant information system. And since many of the work processes involved in cabinetry and furniture production are manual operations - often involving wood components and specialty items sourced from third parties - capturing production data must happen on two levels.
 
Production Coach, a newly released manufacturing plant control system, represents a fresh approach to addressing these challenges of plant integration. 
 
Among the 1,000 exhibits at IWF 2016, it would have been easy to miss Production Coach, where it was generating buzz in its pre-release phase at the RSA Associates booth. A version of Production Coach is already in use by 400 users in Canada, where it has established a track record for managing and monitoring work-in-process on factory floors, tracking all manufacturing information in real time, receiving up-to-the-minute data from robots, machine monitors and employees.  
 
"Of all the factories I go into, perhaps one out of three hundred are operating at capacity," says Roger Shaw of RSA Associates.“I see idle machines all  the time.” 
 
Production Coach addresses the reality of wood products manufacturing at the piece and project level. Modular in nature, the system is built around workstations positioned at key production points. It allows you to have as many or as few stations in the shop and office as desired, and only those features activated at any station that are required. For some stations, tracking first operation, assembly and shipping may be enough. At other stations, tracking and production progress may not be as important as kitting and ensuring that everything makes it on the truck.
 
Production Coach software has established links with Cabinet Vision, Microvellum, and woodCAD|CAM, which simplifies implementation. This provides the opportunity for quick implementation and harnessing of existing CAD|CAM data. 
 
RSA Solutions will perform a capacity audit for prospective adopters, and identify how to roll out Production Coach for best implementation. The system will be on view at AWFS Fair 2017 in July 19-21 in Las Vegas, and featured in a presentation at the July 18  Leadership Conference, where early adopter Kent Swinson of e Timberline Cabinetry & Millwork will describe his firm's experience with the system.  Learn more at  www.rogershaw.com/products/production-coach/
 

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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for WoodworkingNetwork.com, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for WoodworkingNetwork.com.

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.