by Karl D Forth
DThree top-notch plant tours, a number of top quality speakers and a group of innovative and forward-thinking wood products companies added up to a successful event for the Executive Briefing Conference April 25-27. EBC 2017 was held by Stiles Machinery and invited attendees from top millwork, cabinet and other wood product companies to rethink manu- facturing. The EBC was held in downtown Detroit
at the historic Westin Book Cadillac hotel.
Cars, components and robots
Ford’s River Rouge complex is one of the most
famous manufacturing locations in the world,
and has been making vehicles since the 1920s.
The Dearborn complex includes a steel mill, glass
plant and assembly operations. EBC visitors saw
the assembly line for the aluminum Ford F-150
truck in motion on a Sunday evening.
JB Cutting, Inc. in nearby Mt. Clemens rolled
out the red carpet to welcome industry visitors
from the EBC event. The company makes thero-mofoil doors and other components, and has a
good range of modern technology including CNC
machining centers, large routers and edgebanders, boring machines and presses.
EBC participants also toured the large robotic
operation of Fanuc America in a wooded setting
in suburban Rochester Hills. The company makes
manufacturing robots for many different automotive applications, and is seeking new opportunities in other industries such as wood products
manufacturing. Visitors saw demonstrations of
robotic finishing, testing or systems, and a very
large robot showed off its strengths.
Be a disruptor
Josh Linkner, a native of Detroit and an author
and entrepreneur, suggested in his opening
keynote address that executives be the source of
disruption rather than having it be forced upon
them. The obsessions of creative people include
being curious, craving what’s next, defying tradi-
tion, getting scrappy and being a quick adopter.
Linkner said that brainstorming was a great
way to get mediocre ideas, because the best, and
craziest, ideas are not offered up in such a meet-
ing. He challenged participants to find one idea
for creative destruction in the next seven days.
Stiles Machinery’s Gary Wernlund outlined
lessons from the Ford River Rouge tour, compared
automotive and wood products manufacturing
and looked at opportunities for robotics.
Wernlund’s technology bytes presentation of-
fered quick looks at new equipment innovations
in wood products manufacturing, such as smaller
machine footprints, a better managing offcuts,
more textured laminates, improvements in zero
seams and quality improvements in edge milling.
Three plant tours and speaker
lineup highlight event.
Automation drives the future at
Detroit EBC event
EBC event opened with a reception at the historic Ford
operation in Dearborn, Michigan, followed by a tour.