BWA Feb 24 Plant Tour Involves Members to Brainstorm New Process Integration!

Critical thinking is a skill that is truly transferable from one manufacturing process to another to enhance continuous improvement. Read on to learn how BWA uses member plant tours to spread the skill!

Opportunities present themselves everyday for learning and improvement. The wood industry includes companies manufacturing with different processes for a variety of products using solid wood, veneers, and other products for furniture, flooring, or cabinetry, case goods, millwork, among other applications. The BWA Plant Tour Focus Groups are facilitated to seize learning opportunities for all members, both the host and those visiting from different manufacturing methods.

On Feb 24, 2016, Formatop Inc. in Kitchener hosted 25 visiting BWA member companies despite poor weather for the region. The opportunity was a new layout integrating a new 5×12 hot press with the 2 existing presses. Following an introduction by our host Formatop President, Erwin Reidl, members were split up into two tour groups to see the operation and the context of material flow. Members were asked for their ideas on how to optimize integrating new equipment into the flow of mixed material and a mix of size.

The brainstorming that ensued during the debrief was astounding. Questions coming from all directions, some from the obvious, some not, got the critical thinking juices flowing, and many different solutions and ideas came forward. The groups were asked to help design a new layout, and many constraints and opportunities emerged and were discussed at length.

One main theme of opportunity, which is common to most wood manufacturing processes, is the sorting and staging of material by customer order. In the case of Formatop, FSC certified product cannot be mixed with uncertified product. This posed more opportunity for options and fueled discussion further.

Another valuable aspect of this exercise is employee involvement and the connection made between people. Team members from Formatop joined in with the discussion and tours, and BWA members forged new relationships and strengthened the ability of the cluster to share knowledge and expertise across companies: The over-all objective of the BWA.

Congratulations are in order to Formatop for hosting a very successful BWA Plan Tour Focus Group learning event! A big thank you also goes out to the visiting BWA members, who provided very thoughtful feedback and input for the host.

Stay tuned for upcoming BWA events! If you are in the wood industry and want more information about the BWA, contact BWA Executive Director Mike Baker: [email protected]

One of the BWA tour groups at Formatop, learning about their process

One of the BWA tour groups at Formatop, learning about their process.

BWA members debrief and discuss new layout options for Formatop

BWA members debrief and discuss new layout options for Formatop

BWA members share ideas on plant layout options.

BWA members share ideas on plant layout options.