Custom cabinetry manufacturer Westwood Kitchens, Inc., uses the WORKPLAN MES system to manage jobs and employee activities from quote to delivery
Quality is never an accident, which is why custom-cabinetry specialist Westwood Kitchens, Inc., strives to combine talent and experience with technologies that deliver consistent results.
Fifth-generation carpenter Keith Volovsek is at the helm of the Neillsville, Wisconsin-based business that was founded by his father in 1986. Today, Westwood Kitchens, Inc., operates from a 21,000 square-foot state-of-the art cabinetry shop where technology and traditional craftsmanship converge.
“I feel that the integration with WORKPLAN has helped us to improve our accuracy and become more efficient with our daily activities, and the WORKPLAN support team has been there to assist us when we need them.”
Keith Volovsek, president and owner
“Our key company values are safety, quality, and productivity — in that order,” says President and Owner Keith Volovsek. “Technology is a big push for me and I want to be as productive as possible, but not at the cost of safety to our employees or quality for our customers.”
Volovsek had the company’s three foundational values in mind when he implemented the WORKPLAN MES system to help Westwood Kitchens, Inc., manage job quotations, inventory, sales orders, purchasing, job planning, time management, and the tracking of employee activities.
He also continuously improves processes by installing new machinery, upgrading existing equipment, and using the CABINET VISION design-to-manufacturing solution, which works in combination with WORKPLAN to streamline planning and production.
“One of the best things about WORKPLAN is its integration with CABINET VISION. Quoting paperwork and production paperwork can reflect different information when using separate systems, which is where potential problems can occur,” Volovsek says. “Being able to get away from double entry is a huge benefit because it eliminates a great deal of potential for error. For instance, a special request, such as a custom note, may be on the order form, but may not be entered correctly in the production paperwork without the integration. In the grand scheme of things, we’re a small company and errors cost us greatly.”
To begin a new job in WORKPLAN, the Westwood Kitchens, Inc., team either creates an entry for a new customer or generates a new job quote for an existing customer. Once the entry is created, they can open CABINET VISION from within the WORKPLAN interface to link the new project to the MES system. They then draw the project in CABINET VISION and generate a quote in WORKPLAN based upon the job’s data.
Due to the flexibility of WORKPLAN, job data can also be entered into the system manually. In addition to CABINET VISION, several other solutions offered by Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence Production Software also link to the system.
For Westwood Kitchens, Inc., a significant benefit of using WORKPLAN is the ability to easily access multiple quote iterations, as each version is automatically stored in the job’s folder within the system. Likewise, e-mail correspondence with the customer can be stored in the system for quick and easy access.
“We record in WORKPLAN all of the iterations of the quotes and all of the correspondence that we have with the customer,” says Westwood Kitchens, Inc., Plant Manager Jeffrey Hurlebaus. “The history of our projects and how they were quoted was the biggest missing link that we had prior to getting the system.”
The ability to track job changes is vital, especially considering that it isn’t uncommon for Westwood Kitchens, Inc., to have numerous different iterations of a quote.
“It was difficult to track different iterations of a quote before we had the system, as it could take 10 to 15 minutes to find the answers that we needed,” says Assistant Manager Josh Symons. “Now we can track the history as job elements are added, subtracted, and maybe even added again in another iteration of the quote.”
Volovsek’s goal of significantly reducing and ultimately eliminating idle time is another reason that he implemented the solution. Westwood Kitchens, Inc., uses WORKPLAN to track employee activities by having them log into a screen located on the shop floor at the beginning of a specified task, and logging out when the task is complete. Data can also be entered into WORKPLAN manually if an employee forgets to log a task in real time.
As tasks accrue and feedback is derived from tracking results, Westwood Kitchens, Inc., will see an accurate reflection of how much time each task category typically takes. This will help the team to both maximize employee hours and to more accurately quote jobs.
“One of the most significant advantages I’ve noticed is that employee tasks are logged in real time,” says Volovsek. “It’s been enlightening to be able to see how much time certain tasks actually take. For instance, I can see that our sanding-through-assembly process takes up a larger portion of time than we thought. We’re probably going to start shifting personnel around as a result of that discovery.”
Volovsek, who employees a staff of 10, notes that the company produces a large quantity of products with a relatively small team. As such, planning for employee absences can be a significant challenge.
“We’ve struggled with production scheduling and planning for staff taking vacation time because, when someone leaves, it makes an impact on the amount we can produce those days,” Volovsek says. “What I really like about WORKPLAN is the resource and service management, and being able to build a schedule off of that.”
In addition to managing employee tasks and schedules, WORKPLAN’s resource-management tools extend to inventory and purchasing activities. The system is used to track inventory, order supplies, and view what has already been ordered, but has not yet been received.
Icons within the system’s interface change color based upon the status of materials required for a job, which makes missing supplies easy to identify. WORKPLAN also lists supplies reserved from stock, as well as both cost and supplier. Likewise, it lists missing materials and makes it easy to order from a list of suppliers kept within the system.
Supplies from inventory may be “reserved” for jobs with WORKPLAN, which also lets the user know how much more material needs to be purchased; the system automatically flags jobs with missing materials.
“Our inventory is tied to CABINET VISION, so when we send a job from CABINET VISION to WORKPLAN, it tells us what we have in inventory,” Hurlebaus says. “We do all of the reserving of materials at the beginning of the process, which helps to move jobs forward a lot faster. We’re trying to process our orders a good week before we actually start them and WORKPLAN helps with that.”
An additional helpful feature of the software is that it automatically assigns users to specific activities completed within the system. For instance, WORKPLAN assigns users to customer quotes and supply orders so that anyone who uses the system will know who is responsible for the activity without having to ask.
“It doesn’t matter who pulls up purchase orders,” Volovsek says. “You can see what was ordered and who ordered it, which makes tracking it much faster and easier.”
Streamlining the tracking of activities at Westwood, Kitchens, Inc., has yielded both a reduction in errors and greater ease in processing a large quantity of data.
“I feel that the integration with WORKPLAN has helped us to improve our accuracy and become more efficient with our daily activities, and the WORKPLAN support team has been there to assist us when we need them,” Volovsek says.