BWA Plant Tour Focus Group Attracts Over 50: Largest Tour Group Yet!

The shop floor is where “rubber hits the road” when it comes to running your business. It is the place where BWA members feel most at home. Being on someone else’s shop floor opens your mind to new ideas, and helps you to envision solutions to your own problems. It also helps you to realize how good you really are already, and where you have opportunities for improvement!

The BWA Plant Tour Focus Groups are facilitated in such a way to be relevant and valuable to both the host, and visiting members. They are becoming very popular, which is shown by our largest turn out for one of these tour groups with over 50 people January 25, 2017!

GCW Cabinetry in St. Thomas had a challenge with their panel processing area. They wanted to improve the flow, increase their production capacity, and reduce part handling. This also included brainstorming the best option for a drilling machine to complement their beam saw. Other considerations were reducing material waste and managing their offcuts.

Diverse perspectives on solutions are drawn not only by fellow manufacturers, but also by BWA supply chain members who are selected by the host to attend. GCW requested 7 BWA supplier members to attend. These included machinery and tooling manufacturers, software solutions providers, and Sepp Gmeiner of Lignum Consulting. When you put the ideas of manufacturing members along side subject matter experts, the result is a very powerful collaborative consultation that can only take place when members are engaged, and it is facilitated effectively.

The event started with an introduction to the GCW business model and an overview of the area of the shop under scrutiny. They provided some schematics of the flow, and the group reviewed the improvement exercise before venturing out on the shop floor. This was followed by a debrief in the GCW showroom.

Some of the suggestions included the following themes:

  • Return conveyor strategies
  • Operator job design at the out-feed areas
  • Part sorting strategies
  • Yield challenges/strategies: saw vs. CNC
  • Scheduling strategies
  • Supermarket kanban opportunities
  • Use of colour coding components
  • Barcode labelling methods
  • Use of white boards for communication
  • Error proofing operator processes
  • Interloping part strategies
  • Plus many more!

Another valuable part of the day was the time that members had to connect with one another. Long after the session ended, members continued to linger, and network with each other. Many new supply opportunities have come from these connections made within the cluster.

Comments from members included: “When is the next Plant Tour Focus Group?”

The next BWA Plant Tour Focus Group is scheduled for February 22, 2017, hosted by Woodlawn Furniture Market Guelph, ON.

If you would like more information on the BWA so you can attend these events, please contact BWA Executive Director Mike Baker