Efficiency: this manufacturing buzzword means both everything and nothing.
It’s the “how” response to the pressures facing the global furniture industry: a more demanding consumer who expects more choice and faster delivery yet still bases purchasing decisions on price, and a dematerialized online shopping environment that actually emboldens these high expectations. The only way furniture companies can remain competitive is to produce faster and at a lower cost than ever before. They need (drum roll...) efficiency. This translates to minimizing, if not completely eliminating, all production disruptions. Stop-start dynamics due to an unsteady flow of data and information as well as unplanned and emergency maintenance no longer have a reason to exist in production.
As costs and timeframes have been squeezed to their limit, a new challenge has emerged: companies are forced to produce a wider range of items to satisfy a new consumer who seeks trend-based pieces and a more personalized shopping experience, articulated through customization, options and choice. Trends, seasonal collections, and made-to-order options are key for brands to stay relevant and engage the new consumer—it also adds an overwhelming layer of complexity to the manufacturing process. This e-guide, written by furniture experts for furniture experts, explores manufacturing challenges, their solutions, and the metrics that can be used to measure performance, with the objective of confronting this more globalized, competitive market.
Best in class?
Much like the fashion industry a decade ago, furniture has gotten fast and disruptions can no longer be tolerated. Metrics have become increasingly important as the industry evolves towards delivering more customized output under shorter delays, via seamless processes, automation and connected technology. As Industrial Transformation Expert Mark Davidson puts it, “When it comes to metrics, what gets measured gets done,” listing his pick of metrics “that matter most to manufacturing.” When linked to larger objectives or SMART—Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Based—goals, these metrics help teams identify specific areas to improve. In fact, they usually end up being the areas most effectively improved upon by employee teams because the outcomes are measurable and reportable, thus easy to communicate up the chain of command.
Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) is one of the better-known manufacturing metrics that companies can use to evaluate and improve performance. Usually considered the primary metric for evaluating best-in-class status, this performance indicator continues to gain in popularity as manufacturers seek to quantify plant, manufacturing line, and machine-level performance and find ways each area can be improved. OEE = Performance efficiency x Availability x Quality. We’re going to look at what these terms mean in more detail and what solutions can be implemented to move towards excellence within each, and within the changing furniture marketplace.