Through-put challenges created by bottlenecks in production are common challenges for all manufacturers. Driving wasteful steps out of your process to decrease your lead times for product is a true way to lead your company towards profitability. These common challenges come to life at the BWA plant tours and all manufacturers participate in the brainstorming and sharing of solutions to make improvements. This is the big value-add for the host, and the participants see their own challenges from a new perspective. Supply chain members are "cherry picked" to attend by the host to provide their expertise on the issues at hand. Ideas are shared that members can take back to their own facilities.
On Nov 3, 2016, BWA member Art for Everyday in Toronto hosted a plant tour focus group to help them get new ideas on how to reduce the bottleneck at their sanding areas. Art For Everyday is a manufacturer of custom architectural woodcarvings supplying over 1200 decorative corbels, capitals, mouldings, corner posts, island posts, mantels, appliqués, rosettes, custom woodcarvings, and other decorative architectural components. They supply designers, architects, and cabinet and furniture companies the decorative components they require.
The tour started with an overview of their business, and a short presentation in their showroom. The group was then divided into 3 groups to tour the plant, with time spent at the area in question. This was then followed by a debriefing session. It was at this session that ideas began to flow from the members to help them with their challenge.
An example of a few of the ideas included:
- Decrease through put by setting a time limit per unit.
- Maintain the customers expectations but adjust finish standards. AfE standard in their sanding department is 220 grit. BWA members suggest lowering the standard grit to 180. It will still produce good surface finish and 180 is a standard for some of the BWA members present. BWA members also felt 180 is better for finishing.
- Change CNC tooling to improve surface finish and decrease the time spent in sanding. Diamond Tooling v.s. Solid Carbite bites. Solid Carbite is current standard at AfE.
- Improve the programing on the CNC machines to decrease the time spent in sanding.
- Vibratory finishing – for small parts. This type of finishing is used by another member for small parts such as knobs. This sanding technique is more popular in other industries.
- BWA members noticed an over use of sand paper. Suggesting that AfE change sandpaper pads more frequently to speed up production.
- Speed up production in the sanding department by adding more specialized sanding machines such as a radius sanding machine for curved surfaces.
- Treat flat surfaces in large batches before turning. Not with orbital or hand sanders but machine sanding. Recommended to upgrade to a 2 drum sanding machine.
- Put sanding pads on a 5 axis CNC machine to sand the pieces in the machining department.
- Some new sanding technologies were shared by BWA Associate members Performance Abrasives and Allied Stars.
The BWA cluster model facilitates this kind of knowledge sharing. This is just a sample of the type of synergy between companies that takes place. For more information on the BWA, please contact Executive Director Mike Baker: firstname.lastname@example.org