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On rare occasions, technology
takes a leap forward. Something
new catches on which clearly offers
an alternative to conventional
methods. Results are large, with
impact across the business, reflected by multiple metrics. Adopting
such new technology can provide a
significant competitive advantage.
In the wood manufacturing
industry, examples of such large
improvements have included
CNC machines and CAD/CAM
systems. Utilizing CAD/CAM and
CNC, we have cut engineering
time and increased throughput in
manufacturing. Connecting the
two technologies has had an even
larger impact, for large as well as
The appeal of those systems is
Although CAD/CAM packages
that they integrate the drafting and
engineering process with cut listing,
shop floor documentation, optimi-
zation, and CNC code generation,
all into one platform. But as power-
ful CAD/CAM and connection to
CNCs as a solution may be, even
when everything is well implement-
ed, the system is still an island.
may generate cutlists, these systems
rarely handle purchasing very well.
What tools do you use for bidding
and quoting? How do you manage
your inventory and how accurate
are balances? And what about job
cost and accounting? The list goes
on of activities that are disconnected from one another.
Let’s say that you value engi-
neering, CNC code, and produc-
tion data so much that we call
those activities 70% of the total.
The cost of the other disconnected
30% is still huge.
In presentations I always like to
use a simple process flowchart that
represents the major activities in a
typical engineer-to-order business,
from bidding through financials.
Flowcharts are nice, but they fail to
convey the full cost of disconnected
data. These are bits of data that
will be entered into one system,
only to be re-entered into at least
one other system. And when the
“system” also includes spreadsheets,
islands and delays multiply.
The costs of these disconnected
Connecting all the dots on wood production workflow
By Mick Peters