Top Plant 2012: Masco Cabinetry
The panels are then sanded and placed onto a cart, ready to be married up with the stiles and rails for the next step in the process. The sticks created in the dimension department are used to frame the door. In the cabinet-making industry, the sticks that create the outside frame of the door are referred to as stiles. However, before the sticks and panels are assembled, the sticks are routed to the molding department where their inside profiles and final dimensions are formed. The panels and sticks are then assembled and clamped. Once the glue has dried, the doors receive the outside profiles, are finish-sanded, and routed to shipping.
The doors and cabinet fronts are not stained or varnished at the Sayre plant. “That’s done during final cabinet or finished product assembly at another plant,” White said. “That way, the shells and components are stained the same color and shade.”
Reducing lead time
White said the lead time for making cabinet doors and fronts at the Masco Cabinetry Sayre plant was 21 days. “Now, our lead time is three days,” said White. “We made the three-day lead time our goal; we achieved it, and we’re still striving to improve. Eliminating inventory and reducing work in process has contributed significantly to our success in reaching this goal.”
The sticks are cut in real time from the cut bill. “They’re cut in real time so when the center panels come off the sanding line, the exact size and quantity of sticks are pulled from the dimension department and routed to the molder,” White said. “Our work in process between the sanding line and the clamps is four hours maximum. The longest work in process time is waiting for the solid panel glue joints to dry. It’s all about getting as close to just-in-time processing as possible.”
The Sayre plant has eliminated workflow buffers from its manufacturing processes because buffers increase work-in-process (WIP), inventory costs, and the cost of production. “We strive to have right-piece-flow or single-piece-flow as much as possible, which allows us to reduce inventory and lead times,” White said. “Actually, those buffers we used to have added to our lead time.”
Production lead Tim Porter agrees. “Adding inventory between machines allows time for production to continue if a machine goes down,” said Porter. “However, we’ve taken the Lean approach: prevent the breakdowns all together. If you have no work in process between your processes and something goes down, you will eventually affect both downstream and upstream processes anyway. So correct the failing process, and make it better. Work-in-process buffers may seem like ‘comfort levels,’ but they really just get in your way.”
Reducing WIP also reduces waste. “When the wood sits around in racks or around the machine lines, it could become damaged,” Miller said. “The sooner we can move it through, the fewer defects we have, the less motion we have, and the less inventory we have.” There is no finished stock inventory in the Sayre facility.
Identifying and eliminating waste is fundamental to Lean manufacturing. “Lean is an area that the Sayre plant thrives on,” said Hawthorne. “Our challenge is keeping all of the activity focused on our goal of ‘Free, Perfect, Now.’ Sayre makes heavy use of value stream mapping to keep all projects and Kaizens focused on improving the customer experience.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.