Chipping in woodworking

We will have to define our targets & priorities to avoid getting trapped in this vicious circle. It should be our target to ‘Raise - Productivity, Profitability and Quality’ ‘Reduce - Time delays, Tension and cost’

In today’s scenario we see that woodworking industry is facing a lot of challenges like attaining profitability, reaching maximum level of productivity, maintaining high standard of Quality, avoiding time delays and overcoming tensions – the list is long enough and sufficient to dampen the spirit of any entrepreneur.  It has become very difficult to survive in the high competitive market.  I was recently told during a seminar in India that the younger generation is not interested in taking forward the family business in woodworking and is inclined towards white collared job. The time has been ripe today to study the situation with lot of concern to make this field attractive to reverse the situation.
To resolve the problem we should know the present situation. The traditionally run business think of modernization  linked with investment in imported machines and equipments. Countless companies invested few lakhs to few crores of Rs / thousands of  USD in the modernization. But many of them at the end of few years have found themselves in a very tight situation due to rising overheads, accumulated losses, quality standard downed and productivity suffered.
The following pictures will represent the present situation of an average woodworking factory.
I have  observed that the production process is not studied minutely while buying machines . The machines are purchased  by owners in excitement and by following their own whims. Hence we see the factories owning some very heavy-duty machines & some very high-speed machines combined with  manual production processes. The ultimate result is low production with uneven quality.  It is well said by a leading furniture manufacturer from Germany that “a customer buys the furniture because he feels that it looks good and he is not interested in the technology arguments”.  Hence a big investment in machines alone is not a value addition to the products. But a high quality attained and maintained is certainly a value addition to the product. Manual work results in uneven product finish which is a huge hazard in path of success for any woodworking industry.
In most of the cases the defects generated in initial production process are carry forwarded and accumulated at the last stage. It is seen that production people often try to patch up & cover the defects in final finishing process. This results in total dependence on skilled labour and manual work which in turn results in to low quality of product causing lot of after sales problems like rejections, delayed payments, lot of rework at customers place, lot of tensions due to all these factors.

The first and foremost  action required in a factory is to breakdown each and every small / big operation involved in the manufacturing. Then it is essential to select the machines capable to do the number of operations per day. The machine should produce a defect free product. Many times it is seen that the operations are done but without precision, finish and quality.

Simple solution to avoid chipping

It can be understood in the above picture 1 that the molding operation is done on imported machine by a skilled operator with manual pressure involving lot of risk. The operation involves lot of risk due to improper working method. Due to this the molding operation becomes special and dependent upon  skilled operator only. By this we not only make it labour dependent but also ultimate production comes out defective
[picture 2].
A simple solution of magnetic feather board is available which costs 50 – 100 dollars only . It eliminates the risk to operator and makes the process very simple and safe. In addition any worker can work on molder machines as it does not need high level skill to operate the machine.  As the feather board imparts pressure on wood from top and side, the process vibrations are eliminated and a smooth finish is guaranteed. Thus the process becomes a defect free process.  On the similar fashion one should try to make the all other  processes  safe and defect free. This will assure the final product to come out defect-free.
Productivity can only be achieved if one selects the right machines & accessories taking into account  balancing the operations. One should   decide to  eliminate the   manual work completely. Each work should be done either by machines or by using jigs / fixtures to achieve uniform quality and flawless product.
Profitability: The profitability depends on work culture of the factory.  If the work culture is of JUGAD and Chalta hai Society type, then it is very difficult to improve the working and profitability.  It will also be very tough to come out of this vicious circle.  Ultimately lot of energies and large part of profit is wasted on rework, remake, delayed payments, attending the complaints and bad publicity. Innovative designs and high quality finish is the mantra to get High Profits. Good quality of raw material, superb workmanship and right presentation is the today’s FUNDA to make the venture successful.
Due to the network of Internet, the customer worldwide is becoming more and more aware of different products, finishes, designs and prices at a click of a button. Lot of imported products are available across the showrooms which allows the customer to touch and feel the product making it challenging for indigenous manufacturer to sell poorly finished product. Customer everywhere is prepared to pay higher price for a quality product, which in turn helps the domestic woodworking industry to improve the profitability.
The modern philosophy of 80:20 says that profits can be increased by 80% by just increasing efforts in upgrading the quality-finish by 20%.