By Scott Buchholz
This past week saw BC Wood and FPInnovations sponsor a well-received traceability workshop attended by a wide range of industry manufacturers and related Forestry based associations. The workshop broached the subject of the potential role of traceability systems, like ThisForest, as a marketing tool and as an addition or alternative to certification.
With consumers becoming increasingly interested in the origins and supply chains involved in a product, traceability systems are seen as an effective marketing tool, showcasing sustainable business practices and the heart of the company itself.
Traceability represents this missing link between producer and consumer. The fishing and farming industries have already adopted traceability as a viable medium to this extent; it seems the Forestry sector is poised to adopt similar strategies given traceability’s growing popularity, both in industry and consumer demand.
Why is this good for your business?
Traceability is beneficial to business, big or small, for a number of reasons. International pressures are seeking proof of legal harvesting. For producers, this can be demonstrated through traceability, which tracks the supply chain back to the forest of origin. In addition, a company showcasing responsible business practice has the potential for financial return via an increased referral rate due to improved online presence through participation with ThisForest.
Traceability provides a bridge between company and consumer, whether B2B or B2C. It allows the consumer insight into the forest of origin where the wood was harvested, the story of the people behind the company, and something that can be shared between purchaser, family, and friends.
We all know word-of-mouth is the most effective tool in marketing. Studies show that people are more likely to purchase something that was recommended to them by a friend, than anything else. Traceability equips buyers with the tale behind the product and a more intimate relationship with that which was purchased. This motivates consumers to share the story of their purchase and proposes a greater likelihood of returning customers and referrals.
ThisForest is currently in its initial stages of development with a number of trial companies experiencing overall positive results. The workshop this past week allowed for industry input on this burgeoning field of traceability in combination with online marketing and social media. This mechanism doubles as not only a way of showcasing responsible Forestry practices, but also as an effective marketing strategy that people can relate to and share with their inner circles.
It is digitized word-of-mouth.read more
Dust collection is one of those issues for the small woodworking shop that cost money to operate and maintain, but doesn’t seem to add value to the product…or does it. Lacking dust collection or having inadequate dust collection can generate all sorts of problems if for example, you have a finishing booth. Without an appropriate dust collection system, fine dust particles will be drawn into the spray area either by the area’s exhaust system or by being stirred up by other movement in the shop. Wet coated surfaces are magnets for dust, and as a result product quality suffers and your finishing costs rise as you try to deal with fixing the problem at a later stage.
Small shops have two choices with regard to dust collection: a portable single stage dust collection system or a two-stage cyclone system. The single-stage systems are economical to acquire, simple to operate and being portable, they can be moved from wood working machine to machine as required. They have less loss of air velocity and volume as the blower unit is close to the source of chips, shavings and dust. However, they need adequate space to operate in and they have to be repositioned as required. The fan or impeller on these units does come into contact with dust or any other debris in the air stream which in turn may cause damage to the fan assembly. Such impacts can cause sparks and in the presence of dry, fine woody material, a fire could result.
Two-stage or centralized dust collection systems are more powerful and costly, but they can accommodate the dust collection needs of a number of machines simultaneously. A two stage system involves a cyclone to separate out coarse dust from the finer dust, followed by a filtering system or bag house to capture the fine dust. They are more often positioned outdoors thereby freeing up valuable floor space. With these systems the impeller does not come into contact with any of the debris drawn in but sparks can still occur in these systems especially in the ducting and the bag house.
A duct system is required to connect the machines to the dust collector. Ducting systems can be the downfall of any centralized system therefore careful design is required so that the dust collector position is optimized to the position of the machine it services. There are a number of factors that can influence the performance of these systems. For example, the machines being connected should be in close proximity to the dust collector and attached with ducting that contains a minimal number of corners and other joints. Using the optimal duct diameter size for each machine ensures sufficient air volume to provide effective dust collection and air velocity to move the dust along the duct without it settling into piles.
The decision between a single stage or a two stage dust collection system rests mainly with cost, space requirements, simplicity of operation and dust collection requirements. Contacting a local vendor of dust collection equipment is a good first step in making the final decision on which system to choose.
Good websites about dust collector basics can be found at http://billpentz.com and http://www.rockler.com/articles/getting-tough-on-dust.cfm. Alternatively, there are a number of companies that offer turnkey dust collection systems and services to assist companies in selecting the optimum sized units for their manufacturing needs.
For further information contact on this topic, contact Brian Ehrecke (250) 462-4000, firstname.lastname@example.org more
Through the Wood First program, BC Wood is providing Marketing Assessment services to value added companies in British Columbia. The Marketing Assessment will review current marketing efforts and identify any gaps or opportunities available to the company. This service is significantly cost shared by the Wood First program and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
NOT SURE WHERE TO START or WHAT YOU NEED?
Call BC Wood and a staff member will be pleased to visit your plant and conduct a review of the fundamental aspects of your business. We will provide you with a sense of services and programs offered and recommendations. Call BC Wood now for a free assessment of your business.
Have you considered a customized sales training program for your company? BC Wood works with 2 expert trainers in sales training and past success has been extraordinary. The Wood First initiative provides this sales training on a cost shared basis. Call BC Wood to discuss your unique needs.
E-Commerce/Social Media Workshops – TO GENERATE SALES!
NEED HELP UNDERSTANDING E-Commerce / Social Media and why it’s important to your business? (AND what you can/should do about it?)
This hands-on workshop will walk you through the steps you need to take — and the things you need to know — to make your website do what it’s supposed to do — produce sales! Come with your laptop and leave with a detailed plan that you will have already started to implement during the workshop!
The truth about social media and online marketing
No matter what the nay sayers say, the truth is that social media and online marketing produce sales. Want to take the mystery out of social media? You will learn why and how to use SM “strictly for business” — and how you can conduct a solid social media program in less than ten minutes a day.
Presented by expert Neil Godin, the following workshops are planned for:
Victoria - Westin Bear Mountain, September 20, 2012
Kelowna – Delta Grand Hotel, October 11, 2012
Surrey – Sheraton Guildford, October 30, 2012
Please contact Scott Thompson, Program Manager, for more information – 604-882-7100.read more
Using value stream mapping (VSM) to determine flow, location and options of your edgebander. The term value stream mapping refers to the tool for showing the sequence and movement (mapping) of information, materials and actions for a given product flow (value stream). Usually, the mapping is done by following a product’s production path in reverse, or upstream from customer to supplier.
In this article, the value stream being addressed includes the action of edgebanding wood components in a millwork shop and how this operation affects what happens before product comes to the edgebander and also after it leaves the edgebander.
It is important to capture the big picture rather than just what is happening at the edgebander. In very simplistic terms one needs to know the cycle times of all the operations (both value added and non value added) in the production sequence (including set up time or change over) as well as what is happening to the work in progress or inventory between processing steps.read more
Trade shows are not your whole job, just a part of it. You only do, at most, a few small shows a year, and you’ve got lots of other responsibilities to handle. So all this detail in our blog about doing trade shows better? You simply have no time for it all.
But you still would like to boost your results – but only if the changes are simple and quick. So in that vein, here are 5 tips to help you — quickly — get more out of trade shows:
Part two in a three-part series on product development.
In part one of this series on managing product development, we looked at the importance of having a highlevel strategy to guide your efforts. (For part one, visit woodworkingcanada.com.) The next challenge for management is to determine the “how” and “who” of product development.
As companies grow, they tend to refi ne and legitimize various aspects of their business, and the area of product development is no different. At the fi rst level, product development efforts lack planning and performance tends to depend on the capabilities of a few individuals’ skills. At the second level a system is implemented to give structure so successful practices can be repeated. Product development process can be characterized at this level as practiced, documented, enforced, trained and measured. (Most wood product manufacturers tend to be at the stage where they are moving from level one to level two.) The third level focuses on optimizing processes. Failures are analyzed and there is continuous improvement. This level is more critical to fast-paced industries such as electronics where product life-cycles are short and speed to market is everything.
Several different methodologies for new product development exist. Adopting these methodologies can result in cost savings through decreased development times, improved manufacturability of new products, reduced launch costs and increased consumer satisfaction with products. Some of the more written about models include Quality Function Deployment, Stage-Gate Process, and Superior Product Development. While the details of each model differ, the basic ideas are similar. We outline the Stage-Gate process below but it’s a good idea to explore several models and then pick and choose elements to create your own, tailored process.read more
In BC, heritage millwork manufacturer, Vintage Woodworks (www.vintagewoodworks.ca), was facing a dilemma. The company had an excellent reputation for its ability to reproduce authentic classic joinery from over 150 years ago, but it was finding that as it grew, the current manufacturing space and systems were causing inefficiencies in delivering their product to their customers. Company owner, Ken Coley-Donohue, quickly discovered that getting a handle on his labour costs, and ability to quickly turn a project around was going to be key to his company’s future success.
What started Ken’s interest and the potential for Lean at Vintage was a tour he took part in two years ago. During a visit to a kitchen manufacturer, he saw first hand how implementing Lean principles could lead to great improvements.
“A friend told me he read the The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt and felt that he was reading about a day in my life. It took me 1 ½ years to pick it up, but when I finished reading it, I was actually inspired”, says Ken.
In Victoria, real estate is expensive. Challenged by its multi-story, multi-building layout, the company knew it needed to improve, but felt it was hampered by the constraint of its layout. Says Ken, “Vintage has always had a culture of improvement but had lacked a true plan or structure. I believe we have made decisions on improvement in the past that haven’t had the depth of understanding of our true goal, and as a result, have not got the return on investment that we were hoping for”.
Attending a workshop that included a Lego exercise helped to get the true idea of Lean across. With better clarity on the basics of one piece flow and the Lean concepts, an in-house training session on 5S (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain) and the seven deadly wastes was organized for the staff. “The 5S was a great starting point for Vintage as we needed to clean house and create some standards”, says Coley-Donohue.
After seeing the success from their 5S activities, the next step was to get training on Value Stream Mapping (VSM) to help them map out their process and make improvements to the flow of their products. VSM is a Lean manufacturing technique used to analyze the flow of materials and information currently required to bring a product or service to a consumer.
“We saw immediate payback after we finished the VSM exercise. With one of our products, we were able to reduce the number of processes from 18 to 7. This was a huge savings in the production”, commented Ken. “Because we have been looking at our products in depth with VSM, it helped us improve our consistency and our quality”.
Without buy-in of the staff, many of the Lean concepts won’t work. “Initially, I didn’t understand how Lean could be good for our staff”, says Ken. “After all, if you can do more production with less staff, how would your employees feel? People tend to think that if you look at efficiency in production it means jobs are on the line”.
Vintage began by making small changes that let the staff experience the improvements. For example, convincing the moulder operator that he was going to save money by doing lots of shorter runs rather than setting up once and doing bigger runs was difficult at first.
However, after witnessing that the machines were not tied up and the set ups were happening three times faster, employees began coming around. Says Ken, “with less inventory we did not have our cash tied up and it kept what inventory we did have clean and fresh”. “Reduced work in progress cleared the floor, kept the staff focused and reduced the possibility of damage to the products as they made their way through the shop”.
The next steps for Vintage Woodworks include creating the framework so that its staff can sustain the Lean improvements they have already done, and getting ready for further Lean implementation.
Adds Ken,” I have been really lucky to have an Operations Manager in our company that truly believes in the Lean journey. Working together, our staff is looking forward to future changes and the benefits it will result for them”. “We anticipate it will take Vintage some time before we meet our goals, however each step we take we should realize an improvement on our productivity”.
Brian Ehrecke is a manufacturing specialist for FPInnovations. FPInnovations is a company with over 25 years of experience providing technical and manufacturing support to the wood products industry in Canada. He can be reached at (250) 462-4000 or email@example.com more
We recently held workshops in Kelowna and Victoria that focused on the latest details of federal, provincial and other assistance programs that relate to enterprises in British Columbia.
CLICK HERE to view a summary of the workshop, in Power Point form, that you may find useful for your business.read more
Just as human beings and plants need moisture to stay healthy, the same principle applies to organic materials such as paper, wood, and textiles. With an ever-growing demand for increased productivity and the expectation of uniform product quality within the secondary wood manufacturing sector, natural materials such as wood require a climate in which processes and storage occur at a certain air humidity. As indoor climate and humidity constantly change with heating, ventilation, and exhaust systems, humidification systems can help ensure uniform quality throughout production.read more
Narrow bandsaw technology for portable sawmills and lumber remanufacturing has proven to be economically feasible because, compared to wide bandsaws, the machines are less expensive and the costs of blades and their maintenance are much less. Narrow bands are used in applications with deep cuts that were once only possible using wide blades. There is the further benefit that narrow blades have a smaller kerf.
This Technology Profile presents the factors that control saw performance, beginning with the cutting forces, so you can better understand your current sawing system and plan improvements.read more
The Business Innovation Partnership is putting on a special presentation and overview of Thermally Modified Wood (TMW) on Wednesday June 29th. Numerous samples will be available for viewing including both BC softwoods and various hardwoods. Come and see how Hemlock and SPF transform in appearance and functionality to that of Western Red Cedar and how local Maple and other lighter hardwoods can be transformed into rich exotic tropical hardwoods. Thermowood has long been used in Europe and this exciting process is starting to gain some traction in North America. Come and find out for yourself!
When: June 29, 2011, 10:00am-12:00pm (lunch will follow)
Where: Surrey, BC (location TBA)
Presenters: Mike Friesen, Dalling Brooks – Business Case Analysis; Derek Williams – Technical Analysis
Who should attend: Artisans, millworkers, primary producers, remanufacturers, furniture makers, cabinet makers
Cost: In addition to the session and lunch, participants will receive an exclusive copy of the Thermowood Study for $249
For more information and to register, please contact Scott Thompson at 604-882-7100 or at firstname.lastname@example.org more
Find out how to increase your throughput and improve your bottom line using the latest tools in manufacturing automation. A taste of CNC technology will change your manufacturing experience forever!
FPInnovations has released Understanding CNC Routers, a handbook that provides you with the information you need about tooling, software, vacuum pumps, and the myriad of accessories available to the wood manufacturing industry.
You can order the easy to read, 100-page handbook for $20 at email@example.com or contact the author, Alain Albert, directly at 604-222-5613 or firstname.lastname@example.org
With the advent of the Lean movement and the Toyota Production System (TPS), TWI has had a revival in North America. TWI Service was first established by the US War Production Board to ramp up war time production in the 1940′s. TWI Service established the first “J” programs. In 2001, Robert J. Wrona and Patrick Graupp partnered together to reintroduce TWI to U.S. companies, beginning in New York State and then expanding throughout the country and around the world (www.twi-institute.com).
The TWI “J” programs are vehicles to instill standardization into the workplace. The method and skill to implement standardized work is often missing from the tool belts of supervisors. Without standardization, it is difficult to know if a process is being improved, where errors are occurring, or if improvements are being sustained.
Equally important, standardization can help increase the job satisfaction of employees and contribute to the success and growth of the company.
Results for companies that have implemented TWI vary based on their personal situation and the metrics they have put in place. Many companies have noted successes in one or more of the following areas:
To learn more about TWI, its history and how it can benefit your business, a free one-hour webinar will be held at 10am PST on May 25th, and then again on May 26th. Please click on the links below for the date of your choice to register and receive the login information.
For May 25
For May 26
For the most part, the last 2 weeks has been relatively quiet with the Architect Program as the BC Wood staff, along with FPInnovations and CAWP, spent much of last week in Kelowna where a series of meetings focusing on the Business Innovation Partnership (BIP) program took place. Along with the meetings, we broke into groups and visited numerous companies to conduct needs assessments. Many companies that were visited were unaware of the many programs that are available to them from the three associations involved with BIP so finding out how these companies can be assisted to make them better at what they do is always gratifying.
As it relates to the Architect & Designer Program, we did book a couple of sessions and are finalizing details for two mill tours. We also are putting the final touches on the 2011-2012 Architect & Designer Program and will be sending applications out in the next week.
As always, if you require any information on any aspect of the Architect & Designer Program including how to participate in either lunch & learn sessions or in the Specifiers Book, please contact me at email@example.com more
Wood product manufacturers can access wood finishing services through Business Innovation Partnership (BIP). We offer ongoing industry support through seminars and publications on finishing issues, and we work with individual manufacturers to help them resolve their finishing problems and increase their productivity and quality.
FPInnovations can support your finishing efforts by:
For more information, contact Norman Smith at 604-828-9555 or firstname.lastname@example.org more
During my visits with manufacturers who work with nested based CNC machines I am often confronted with questions regarding hold-down vacuum performance. Surprisingly, there is very little information available to these manufacturers apart from the specs of the vacuum pumps. Manufacturers have told me when they have problems holding down parts to their table they often refer to the machine distributor who sold them the system. On occasion, they are told that the pump is not strong enough and that they must purchase a bigger pump. In some cases, after purchasing a bigger pump, the problem persists and they are told that the vacuum is not the problem, they must be doing something
In order to hold down a piece of wood to a table using vacuum, more than just the performance of the vacuum pump has to be taken into consideration. The air that will be drawn by the pump must first travel through a spoilboard; then through a plenum in the table; then through different valves and plumbing fittings and finally through a pipe or tube to the pump itself. Let’s take a look at each of these elements separately.read more
The use of wood veneer has been reported as far back as Egyptian times. Since then, craftsmen have used valuable and scarce wood resources of different patterns, colours and pleasant figures to expose this high value material. Since wood veneer has little application on its own, gluing veneer onto lower quality material is a simple solution to extending its use.
Both softwoods and hardwoods can be used for veneer, however the majority of softwood veneer is used as sheathing, structural products or as substrate for higher appearance products.
The inherent qualities of the many hardwood species result in veneer that is warm and appealing to the eye. Once the log has been processed, the narrow veneer components are usually spliced together to make a full-sized sheet. The highest grade possible is obtained by producing different patterns. Highly decorative effects are usually produced on 4×8-foot sheets by matching veneer components.
Having an efficient dust collection system will add dollars to your bottom line. By improving the environment in which you and your employees work, productivity and manufacturing efficiency can be increased, while product quality is improved. Dust and noise issues in a manufacturing environment are nuisances that can be easily dealt with if good planning principles are used during the design of dust collection systems. However, before installing a dust collection system, or even considering whether or not one is needed, business owners must investigate a number of issues. These include:read more
Here is a new and emerging opportunity for wood residuals to capture a large portion of the Green Energy market. The success of wood as a biofuel has already begun to materialize with the recent surge in the wood pellet market. This energy source has become extremely popular in Europe, where it is used to heat homes and even power some industrial plants. As counties continue to find ways to reduce their dependency on oil and other fossil fuels, the opportunity for sustainable renewable energy sources will grow. The trend of increasing oil prices is expected to continue over the coming decades. As oil prices continue to increase, the feasibility of alternative energy sources improves greatly, expanding the opportunities for bio-energy.
Prepared with the assistance of the Ontario government through the NOVA project, the Pellet Tool Kit summarizes a number of key areas in the manufacturing of pellets and briquettes and links to additional sources of information. The brief report includes information on biomass availability and demand, pellet production costs, pellet manufacturing, specifications and packaging, storage and transportation, markets and future developments in pellet manufacturing.read more
Last week’s Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) Symposium was, by all accounts, a tremendous success. Over 240 representatives from BC’s design and construction community and the forest products industry turned out to hear the latest on CLT panels and how they have changed the face of wood construction in Europe. Extensive and detailed presentations were given by experts in the field of architectural design, engineering, manufacturing, seismic resistance, connections, fire safety, acoustics, floor vibrations, durability, and environmental performance.
Copies of the presentations given at the CLT Symposium are available on the BC Wood website at http://www.bcwood.com/?page_id=2579. An additional overview of CLT and its’ impact in North America is available on the Journal of Commerce’s website http://www.joconl.com/article/id42954.read more