Craig Bryden, Production Manager for Harbour City Kitchens, is continually looking for ways to use technology for increased efficiency, agility and environmental benefit. Last fall Bryden took a technology tour. “After going to Germany, I was inspired by how organized the operations were, how productive,” says Bryden. “Even before that we always try to stay ahead of technology. We have always been fortunate with the volume of work we do, but we don’t take that for granted.“
Panel products currently make up the majority of the company’s business by volume, and the segment continues to see growth. To support that Harbour City revamped its panel processing operation in early 2012, bringing in several pieces of new equipment and re-organizing the production flow for more efficiency. “We have Stiles and Biesse equipment,” says Bryden, “but all the new machines are Stiles. They took really good care of us. One of their engineers came and toured our shop, and we gave him a floor plan. Then he gave us back a floor plan with a new layout for proper workflow through the shop.”
Production starts with Cabinet Vision, a 3D CAD software package from Planit. “From there we send the file straight to the saw, where it optimizes for the best way to cut in terms of yield of labor and time,” says Bryden. As the machinery saws, the computer generates a printed bar code that is used to track the piece of an order through the process. The piece moves through the Brandt Ambition 1880 edgebander to the Weeke BHX 050 CNC. When the barcode is read the computer pulls up the corresponding CAD program for the piece. “Our machining center is one of the new pieces,” says Bryden. “This new one is a small, it only occupies about six feet by eight feet of floor space. We used to have a router in that position, but when we really started to look at it we realized we really don’t utilize the router, we just used it for drilling. It was far more sophisticated than we needed for about 90 percent of our work. So we replaced it with the BHX machine which is specifically designed just for drilling cabinet parts.”
Harbour City upgraded technology for more efficient box construction as well, moving from screw and staple construction to dowels construction with a Weeke ABD-050 CNC drill dowel inserter. From there the boxes go to a Ligmatech MPH 450 case clamp. “We added in a lot of automation for box construction, and we’re happy with the way everything is set up,” says Bryden. Harbour City also has a highly automated wood shop and finishing line.
In addition to the CAD software, Harbour City makes use of other software to help keep things running smoothly in the shop. WoodWop software not only operates the machines, but it also sends reminders for scheduled maintenance. “We just started using another new program called Tractivity that tracks everything everybody does during the day.
At the end of the day you can pull up a job and find out how many person hours were spent on it start to finish. We always knew our material costs really well, but labor was tough to track,” says Bryden. “When this new program is fully activated it will turn into our scheduler for stations and deliveries as well.”
Harbour City is always investigating new ways to use technology for increased efficiency and agility. Looking forward, Bryden would like to eventually integrate a Bargstedt material handling/ storage and retrieval system.“We have so many materials that we carry on the floor that it would be really useful, both for inventory management and for increasing the actual cut time of the saw,” says Bryden. “The overall goals are to be more efficient and minimize human error while increasing production and quality.”
Check out the Harbour City Kitchens: A Perfect Market Match article
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