Wednesday, 23 December 2015 19:00

Hardwood Rips and People, People, People!

In almost every manufacturing situation one of the major challenges in sustained success is managing the labor equation.  Traditionally, in the forest products industry labor concerns have ranked in the top five issues for many years.  So there is no doubt that whenever a manufacturer of hardwood products can find ways to reduce or minimize labor challenges they can create a competitive advantage.

We see this as a key decision criteria for our customers when they decide to take a hard look at their sourcing strategies, and consider ripped to width hardwood lumber.

In dealing with our customers we have found that three of the top labor issues manufacturers deal with include:hardwood ripping operator

  1. Finding reliable and dependable workers – Manufacturing companies struggle constantly with finding and hiring dependable workers.  Timeliness, reliability and a general willingness to learn and work hard are difficult qualities to find in employees.  The amount of time employers spend in interviewing, training and assimilating employees to their culture is expensive. So when you find a good employee it is critical you maximize their contribution to your manufacturing process.

  2. Managing the skills gap – Manufacturing today is high tech. Computer skills,  mathematical aptitude and an ability to problem solve is important even for entry level positions.  So finding potential employees that fit this criteria is difficult and highly competitive.  A recent report by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte and Touche indicates that “over the next decade, nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled and the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled.”

  3. Rising employer costs -  The costs of wages, workers compensation insurance, benefits, taxes and the like continue to rise.  Managing the overall impact of your labor costs as a percent of revenue continues to be a struggle and an area business leaders look for new ideas to consider.

So how can hardwood moulder blanks help? 

In a typical plant one of the first work cells is the rip saw.  This area manages the conversion of random width lumber to exact width blanks ideally suited for the process at hand.  In many facilities this work area can be a production bottleneck, one that requires an experienced machine operator to make critical decisions regarding value.  The ripping work cell is critical to the overall profitability of the operation and one that can be challenging to manage labor costs within. 

One way to reduce challenges here is by replacing random width lumber with pre-ripped hardwood blanks.  This enables them to bypass the rip cell all together and feed blanks directly into high speed moulders.  Key value decisions, once left to a ripsaw operator, are now defined between purchaser and vendor.   Manufacturers can then redeploy their experienced and trusted employees to handle more valuable tasks and leverage their skills better internally.

If you are looking for ideas on how to better manage your labor challenges let us know. Maybe hardwood rips can play a role in your success.

Bob Uglow
Baillie Lumber Co.
Hardwood Ripping Division
Hamburg, New York 14075
Cell: 407-496-4146
Office: 800-950-2850
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