Entire world is feeling the impact of global economic slowdown and the woodworking industry is no exception. Here are a few tips on how to survive the recession and stay ahead in the competition by cutting down costs, effort & energy. This has given an opportunity to re think the strategies, revise the ways of working and the using the alternate methods. It has also compelled us, to device new techniques to make the industry more efficient in production & more innovative to offer better products to the market. The fierce competition has shrunk the profit margins, compelling the producer to reduce the costs. Unfortunately while reducing the costs there is the danger that quality also may go down. This may further aggravate the situation.

A Smarter way woodworking is the best remedy for the situation.

In every woodworking factory there are three important aspects namely

  • Purchase of material,
  • Manufacturing process & cost control
  • Sales & marketing

We will consider the second point only. A systematic analysis of each and every process operation should be done to achieve this goal. One should minutely study as to how we can improve the working, workmanship and speed.

We should also study if we can adopt alternate ways of production.

We are going to study the manufacturing & Cost control area in detail in this article. We will study this in the context of Panel Processing. In next article we will study with reference to Solid Wood Processing.

Panel Processing

In the present market situation there is a booming market for Panel Products which comprises of Kitchen Units, Wardrobes, Computer furniture, Knock down furniture, Bedroom sets etc.

Listing of the operations

We will list every small operation done while producing the panel furniture starting from the first stage of production

  1. Designing & optimization
  2. Panel storage & handling
  3. Panel Cutting
  4. Movement of sized panels
  5. Panel Edging
  6. Panel Drilling
  7. Fixing of Hardware
  8. Assembly
  9. Cleaning
  10. Packing
  11. Storage & dispatch

Detailed study of the operations

As mentioned earlier, we should study each of the operation minutely and also should look into possibility of adopting alternate methods of doing the things. Time & motion study, strategies to reduce the wastage, defect free production, techniques to avoid and minimize the damages, methods of efficient material handling etc. should be the key areas of concern and research.

Designing & optimization

Panel-Processing02This is the most important but most often neglected area in the processing of panels. Designing is the hidden but real high value addition to the product. This factor also plays an important role in the profitability of the factory. Designing will not only give new look to the product but also controls the wastage and the cost. Specialized designing soft wares along with optimization are available for panel processing. Efficient use of the designing software can revolutionize the factory working & overall control.

Panel-Processing01Panel-Processing03We can see that by changing few centimeters in size we can save the material to a greater extent. Alternatively by changing the size of the Board we can control & reduce the wastage. We can offer various options to the customer and make the product more competitive. Different cutting programs are suggested for better utilization of the material. As advanced software’s are available which can be linked to the machines for the operations, we have several solutions for up to date Designing & optimization.

Panel Storage & handling

Efficient / smooth Panel storage along with damage free handling of the panels is the need of today’s furniture factories. Normally we see that the panels are stored flat on the floor and are rubbed across each other while storing, sorting or selecting. This increases the unnecessary labour and the damages boards. This can be avoided by efficient material handling system or methods. Vacuum lifting devices will be a cheaper and more viable solution. The cost of the investment in these devises can be recovered in few years depending upon the number of boards handled per day/ month/ year.

Panel-Processing04Panel-Processing05Vertical storage of the panels is another good system for safe storage of the boards. The use of the trolleys covered with foam is even better and cheaper solution for the safe handling of the board on the floor.

It is observed that too much manual handling of the material takes place on the floors, which causes the damage to the panels and also call for more workforce on the floor. Due to this practice the factory output is also largely dependent upon helpers & un-skilled labour. We can avoid this situation by adopting the modern methods of storage and handling.

Panel Cutting

The right selection of machines as per the requirement to achieve the perfect chip free panel cutting is very important as it directly links / affects the final product with finish & quality. The technology is selected as per the workload and number of panels to be cut every day/ shift and the space available. Use of the machines with very high production capacity makes the unit financially strained and under utilized.Panel-Processing07 Panel-Processing06For small joiners who want to cut few (3-4) boards per day a simple solution is available in USA. An ‘’arbor Main saw’’ with scoring arbor is the right type of machine to serve this purpose.

For the medium capacity requirements needing to cut 20 to 30 boards per shift, a sliding table saw/ Vertical saw with scoring will be fine. For higher capacities the sliding table should be heavy duty and the main saw motor power should be higher in capacity. A heavy duty sliding table saw is suitable for 40 to 50 boards per day capacity. One should check the quality of the slides & the liners bearing. This is guarantees the accuracy of the cut. Second most important aspect is the main & scoring saw blade assembly. This should be very sturdy & strong with good piece of engineering.

Panel-Processing08Panel Beam saw is suggested for cutting 150 to 200 boards per day. Options like floating table, side pusher, jumping scoring and auto-loading offers the added advantages. These options reduce the manual work requirement and handling of the material that in turn assures higher output. In case the boards are to be converted to smaller sizes then the machine with independent pusher is suggested that gives much flexibility and quicker production.

In the next part of article, we will study the next stage and aspects of production.