Lancer Furniture Inc. opened its doors in March of 1969 in Star, North Carolina, USA with a mission to build a company and product that would stand the test of time. Over the last 52 years, the company has survived economic downturns, natural disasters, and other challenges, largely due to the qualities ingrained into the company culture by the original employees.
Today, Lancer operates as a special-order company who produces 120 - 160 custom pieces of furniture per day. The company offers many different choices for cushions, pillows, legs, colors, and arm covers as well as several tackline options.
Getting the perfect cut
Lancer sells a large variety of plaids and stripes, which was causing them to lose a lot of yield and time due to having to “block” cutbacks, cushions, decks and more to make sure they’d match. Years ago, when they began streamlining and digitizing their matching process, Lancer began looking for an automated cutting solution but weren’t convinced the technology was far along enough to invest in it, until they saw a demonstration of Gerber’s digital cutting solutions.
“When we were first starting to look at digital cutters and nesting solutions, we saw demos of several brands, but we felt Gerber’s was best suited to our matching needs,” said Robert B. Deese, Vice President of Lancer. “We were very pleased with the first cutter so we added a second about nine months after the first purchase.”
As Lancer transitioned to cutting solids, they became beta testers for Gerber’s newest innovations and eventually went on to add an automated leather cutting solution, the Taurus, when they moved into the leather living room furniture market allowing them to save material, time and get the most optimized process.
A match for success
With each machine installation, Lancer was able to have their new system up and running at full capacity within less than a month. Lancer received thorough training to ensure operators felt confident to utilize Gerber’s system to its full potential.
The addition of Gerber’s cutting systems and integrated CAD and nesting software solutions, AccuMark and CutWorks®, helped achieve a new level of quality and faster throughput, by speeding up the sewing and upholstery process. Arms, backs and decks were now more likely to match together the first time without having to be sent back for seam adjustments or recutting.
After purchasing their first DCS 3500, Lancer was able to reassign four of their cutters. Their sewing production time for plaids and stripes also went down 18-20% due to the precision cutting, eliminating the need to adjust fabric before sewing. “We routinely get yields in the upper 80s and sometimes low 90s percent with solids,” said Deese.
“We’ve also seen match plaid sofa yardages shrink from 3 to 5 yards versus the previous blocked patterns. Our average matched sofa fabric usage went from around 18’ to 14’ per piece.”
Navigating through COVID and increased demand
At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Lancer, like many companies, shutdown production for a little over four weeks. They also ran into issues with suppliers having to quarantine or not producing at all. The company also saw challenges with delivery due to shutdowns in many states.
In addition to production challenges, the COVID pandemic also caused an increased demand for furniture. Lancer had an eight week backlog because they were restricted from working additional hours and days due to a series of shortages and bottlenecks.
Through their partnership with Gerber Technology, Lancer was able to easily navigate many of the challenges brought on by COVID. With the precision of the automated cutting system for matched fabrics, Lancer was able to easily train new sewers that were brought on during the pandemic. The speed of their cutting solutions also helped them easily catch up on orders after their mandatory six week shutdown.