Optimizing production with new and existing technology: In order to be profitable and productive in today’s economy, woodworking facilities need to optimize their resources: equipment, supplies and their workforce. Many companies have done so through investments in new technology and production methods, including lean and sustainable manufacturing methods.

Tech Profiles
Custom Cupboards, Wichita, KS
This Kansas-based cabinet company is the first
in the nation to use robotics in conjunction with
RFID and bar coding technology in the production
process. At full capacity, the robots should be able
to build up to 400 face frames a day.

BriMar Wood Innovations, Goshen, IN
“The ability to manufacture larger projects with
significantly larger individual quantities has allowed
us to grow our production capacity,” said Brian Roe,
president. ”This balance has contributed to our
success by keeping our production areas focused
and efficient with large batch quantities, increasing
efficiencies by adding minimal direct labor and
driving improved margins.”

Banner’s Cabinets Inc., Newland, NC
“Our company has purchased several pieces of computerized
machinery to keep our production more competitive in a
downsized economy,” said Joseph Banner Jr., president.
“The new equipment enabled us to expand not only production,
but also our highly prized total custom capabilities. We [also]
upgraded and revamped our 1,000-square-foot display and
began production of a new 3,800-square-foot display.”

Cleora Sterling Corp., Mebane, NC
“We continue to adjust our plant layout and work cells since
we moved the plant almost three years ago,” said Chip
Cappelletti, president of the architectural woodwork firm.
In addition to new equipment, including CNC machinery
and a second panel door/layup line, “We have also been
able to hire extremely talented employees, given the large
layoffs that have occurred in the furniture and millwork
industries. Finally we have been able to reduce most
material prices and subcontracts as a result of the low
margins that we all must face together.”

GCW Custom Kitchens & Cabinetry, St. Thomas, ON
According to President Ron DeWeger, GCW has
increased productivity through gain share implementation
plus improved customer service and quality control.
Recent purchases include new software, a second CNC
router and edgebander and a dowel insertion machine.

Karhu Woodworking Inc., Carleton Place, ON
In 2008, the company implemented a focus on training
and efficiency improvements, said Alan Lester, partner.
“This resulted in a short-term drop in income for 2008,
but a large increase in 2009 (17%) as the improvements
started to pay off. This year we are opening a showroom
that is closer to our customer base. To handle the anticipated
sales we have been increasing our capacity and will
continue to this year.”

Wallwood Furniture, Richmond Hill, ON
“We found in order to compete in today’s market we could
not simply reduce our prices,” said Bill Kocjancic, president.
“We evaluated the processes we used and streamlined them...
we were able to manufacture faster and the quality of the
finished product actually improved.”

Cohen Architectural Woodworking, St. James, MO
Implementing a continuous improvement program as part of
lean manufacturing had an added benefit of eliminating
negativity in the workplace, said President Phillip Cohen.

FOLIOT FURNITURE, --St Jerome, QC, recently expanded its presence in North America with the opening of its second U.S. facility. The contract furniture maker, which caters to the hospitality, university and military market segments throughout North America, said the addition of the almost 400,000-square-foot Las Vegas, NV, manufacturing facility, will help it better serve customers on the West Coast, allowing the St.-Jerome and Greeneville, TN, facilities to focus on needs of clientele on the East Coast.
With the completion of the new plant, Foliot Furniture now has in excess of 600,000-square-feet of manufacturing space and in peak periods will employ approximately 600 workers. The company says it has invested the necessary capital in order to have the manpower and technical resources to complete numerous orders, large and small. Foliot Furniture designs, develops and produces its furniture using state-of-the-art machinery, giving it the ability to manufacture every product with extreme precision for perfectly assembled and consistently identical furniture.

In addition to being a lean manufacturer, Foliot Furniture focuses on sustainable manufacturing practices and offers furniture constructed of Nu Green no-added formaldehyde panels, which are certified as an Environmentally Preferable Product by the Composite Panel Assn. The company is also pursuing GREENGUARD certification for its laminated products. Read more.

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