There’s little doubt that the housing bust and pullback in new construction created a challenging climate for cabinet manufacturers. Fewer homes meant a smaller demand for case goods. But as the market rebounds, many cabinet shops are asking for assistance from their supplier partners, like wood panel producer Timber Products Company, to help streamline product utilization and increase efficiency.
“Buying the right product and utilizing the material in the most efficient manner is the name of the game,” said Mario Serra, Director of National Accounts at Timber Products. “Everyone is trying to maximize efficiency while decreasing waste."
The trend toward product efficiency is expected to reach new heights this year as companies plot strategy and search for new ideas to ride the rebound.
As the economy improves, suppliers can be an even more valuable business resource. Serra said his company’s consultative services have experienced great demand in recent years.
“Timber Products takes it a step further by acting as an efficiency consultant and helping customers determine the right materials for the end product,” said Serra. “We can simplify the ordering process, suggest product alternatives and deliver at just the right time to save our clients money and improve the bottom line. We always ask lots of questions and truly discover a customer’s needs.”
Five top tips
To increase efficiency, here are five steps that cabinetmakers can consider:
Use alternate cores: Hardwood plywood with a core other than particleboard, MDF or veneer often can be less expensive. In addition to the standard offerings, Timber Products has a new OSB center panel that is very strong, sturdy and more economical.
Swap species: Cabinet manufacturers can reduce costs by using a lower priced species. Timber Products recommends introducing new species as a way to lower cost while maintaining style and appearance.
Order cut to size: Companies can order panels cut to the exact size they need rather than making the cuts themselves. “This maximizes panel utilization,” said Serra. “Timber Products will make all the cuts so the company is buying 100 percent usable product. It’s also an easy way to control payroll and equipment costs while increasing productivity.”
Think big: Buying alternate size panels greatly reduces waste.
Pre-finish: Cabinet companies that might not have the capacity to finish product or that have reached VOC limits can order hardwood plywood panels from Timber Products that arrive prefinished. This service reduces the labor of finishing the product on-site.
Look beyond costs
Serra said manufacturers should look beyond the price sheet to be successful.
“Some shops get confused between the purchasing cost and the utilization cost,” he said. “Utilization cost is the final real cost of a finished component, panel or door after the manufacturing process. It is possible to buy hardwood panels that have a very low purchase price but a very high utilization cost. Our job is to provide our customers with a panel that not only has a competitive purchase price in the marketplace, but also results in a very low utilization cost once it has gone through the complete manufacturing process.”
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