Vendor Loyalty and Sales Pitch Can Lead You Astray

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Issue #11242 - September 2019 | Page #47
By Todd Drummond

The BCMC trade show is fast approaching. This trade show, which is held each year, is a great opportunity for you and your team to step outside of your comfort zone to challenge and expand your current beliefs of both equipment investments and vendor services. Just be mindful that sometimes it is very difficult to cut through a vendor’s sales pitch; what you might consider a worthy investment might be based solely on vendor recommendations.

Please note that this article may be perceived as either pro or con toward some vendors. Todd Drummond Consulting (TDC) has never received any plate or equipment referral fees. TDC advisements are without bias and always geared toward the best interests of the client.

One-size-fits-all solution is the best – False

No one believes that all your delivery trucks should be tractor-trailers that haul the biggest and longest trusses you manufacture for every order. Most companies have various trucks that are short flatbeds and some that are long stretch trailers for different size orders. Therefore, the same logic should apply to your manufacturing. Different conditions require different equipment and practices to get the most productivity and efficiency at the lowest cost possible.

Beware of the idea of pairing a linear saw with an auto-puck table for manufacturing all your trusses. Think about this logic for a moment. When you are going to cut a 1-1-1 truss order, the linear saw works great; in fact, that is what it is best at doing. When an order requires a run of ten or more, a five-blade auto component saw will cut the pieces far quicker than any linear saw. So how does the logic of pairing a linear saw stand with every run, no matter the quantity, makes sense to cut every piece using a linear saw? It does not.

Some vendors recommend pairing four assemblers on a 100’ gantry table with a single linear saw. The argument is that it is the most cost efficient for labor savings and the greatest output for the table. Is this really the case?

  1. Can two assemblers suddenly produce as much as three assemblers per workstation? Is a two-person operation, in which one person either has to jump off and onto the table to assemble the top chord or stays on the table while being passed material by the second person, faster than a three-person operation, in which two people stay on the bottom chord and one is up on the table”? The answer is no, they cannot be as quick as three assemblers. It is physically impossible.
  2. If you assign six people, three per workstation, the linear saw cannot keep up to the demand of the six assemblers. A linear saw limits output at about four people on a gantry table and will not be able to keep pace with five or more people on the assembly table.
  3. When trying to maximize your total sales dollars produced per shift, you need to add more people to the assembly tables to handle all the pieces and board footage going through your manufacturing. Pairing the linear saw for the assembly table will, in effect, create a bottleneck (constraint) to your process, and there is no simple workaround because the equipment setup is too rigid. By using carts instead of the conveyor system, you can move material from any saw to any table. So, when larger quantity runs need to be processed, the 5-blade auto component can be used, and the material is easily moved using carts.
  4. There are valid reasons why some companies are seeing production gains and lower labor costs using the paired linear saws with the assembly tables, but this information will only be discussed during a paid TDC consultation. Once explained, it becomes very apparent why a mix of equipment and better practices become sorely needed and how these companies get such high gains.

Another vendor recommendation is that using only one vendor to meet all your needs is a great idea. I cannot emphasize enough that no matter the size, perceived reputation, or your relationship with your current vendor, you are not getting the best possible solutions for all your needs.

  1. Not one single vendor is best at everything, no matter the size of the company or market share. Very often, a mix of vendor equipment and services provides the best ROI.
  2. Reputations of past behavior are a good indicator of future behavior, but it is not always the case. If, over the years, your company left a previous plate or equipment vendor for valid reasons, maybe it’s time to get reacquainted with them again. All companies experience culture changes, which can affect how well they are servicing their customers. I will make one unsolicited statement about one plate vendor. Alpine®, an ITW company, over the years has taken some reputation hits that many feel were deserved for its performance with some of its customers. TDC will not go into the details of what and who, but now there is something brewing within the company that has made many people within the industry stand up and notice a positive change within Alpine. Maybe it is time for your company to at least go to its booth and start asking questions and seeing what it has to offer. TDC highly recommends that you invest time in developing a relationship with all the vendors to some degree. Never allow your company to lose its bargaining strength with any single vendor or possible alternative vendor solutions that might be better than what your current vendor provides.

When you want more than hype, TDC is your best source for learning about the very best and latest practices to keep your company competitive. TDC has proven real-world expertise that goes far beyond what many expect and has provided consulting services for well over a hundred clients. Whether you are a new or longtime operation, save your company a great deal of time and money by getting professional lean manufacturing help and training to improve all of your processes, not just in manufacturing. TDC uses proven and practical lean manufacturing best practices combined with industrial engineering principles that include refined time standard man-minutes for truss manufacturing. So, before you buy equipment, get TDC’s advice! TDC does not receive referral fees from any equipment or plate vendors, and you can trust TDC for unbiased vendor and equipment recommendations shaped only by customer experiences. Please don’t take my word about TDC’s services though. Read the public testimonials many current and past clients with decades of expertise and experience have been willing to give:

Website: – Phone (USA): 603-748-1051
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