EXPERT ADVICE for – Every day Problems on factory floor

It has been observed that most of the furniture factories in India/ Gulf face the similar problems every day. These are – wrong work done, Profiling defects, faulty colour matching, mismatched sizes, delayed deliveries etc to name a few. A Lot of energy is wasted in this unproductive work that can be avoided.

The main reasons for this are:

• Oral and incomplete instructions without any proof.
• Drawings with missing the details of dimensions
• Not following of the drawings.
• Use of blunt tools and cutters.
• Shade difference in Staining.
• Non calibrated measuring tapes and human errors
• Age-old techniques that lead to slow work resulting in delays.

Oral and incomplete instructions without leaving any proof

It is observed that most of the times furniture drawings are made by leaving a lot of necessary details as missing. These are okayed orally without leaving any proof. While doing this many crucial dimensions are changed causing problems at final stage. No rechecking of the dimensions of the drawings with site dimensions is undertaken on first stage only. This also results in to SKEW wardrobes.

It is seen many times that the joinery details are not mentioned clearly. This ends in to wrong joinery and change in the aesthetics.

The best way to avoid many problems is that one should stop the method of the oral instructions in the factory. All instructions should be in written format. No oral instructions should be implemented. I have observed in some furniture factories that any instruction given for any change requires to be signed on the drawings leaving the proof of changes made in it. This system is the foolproof system that works smoothly and without any defect .The perfect system should be – Complete instructions should be given to the floor staff with the work order itself.

Drawings with missing dimensions
Many times we see that some dimensions are missing in the floor / component drawings. One should see that all dimensions are mentioned and that they are rechecked for its correctness. This will avoid lot of rework and maybe rejection also.

Not following of the drawings:
It is observed that many times the dimensions are not followed accurately. The dimensions are kept 2 to 5 mm more than required and mentioned in drawings. This is then resized manually. This ends up in mistakes. Instructions mentioned in drawings about Edge radius, corner radiuses are taken lightly ending up in to problems after the job is finished.

Use of blunt tools and cutters:
Many factories use blunt cutters and saws causing rough cutting, bulging of the board, chipping. The machine works because of the heavy powered motor. Generally the machine sound hints about the tool condition, but many times it is overlooked.

Chipping due to blunt Tool on Spindle Molder
Results of blunt tool on CNC Router

Tools are replaced only when burning marks are seen.

Shade difference in Staining:
I have seen that furniture is rejected due to wrong shades given to the furniture. Mixing of the stains and paint components is done only by judgments and not done using the measure glass.

Dirty Measuring cylinder in painting room

This ends up in to wrong shade matching. One should try to use factory colour matched shades or use measuring Glass to mix the stains.

Non-calibrated measuring tapes and human errors:
We can see that if we buy non-branded tapes, two measuring tapes do not match. Hence branded measuring tapes should be used that have one mm adjustment at the start for accurate measurement of inside and out side measurements. The tapes should be checked with accurate metal scale for accuracy. Electronic measurement tools are the best solution for avoiding human errors. The measurements can be converted in the CAD drawings also.

Age-old techniques that lead to slow work resulting in delays:
The carpenters use outdated techniques on the floors and that machine operators are not exposed to new techniques developed across the Globe. No training programs are conducted to upgrade their knowledge. Hence in spite of high investment the output is not up to the mark both in quality, quantity and productivity scale.

Bleeding Glue
Nails on Front side
Thick Glue Line due to Masking tape

The fact remains that in India/ Gulf, In spite of using European machines, tools, raw material, we do not produce European quality Furniture. We need to change our attitude to achieve European Quality Finished Furniture.

The Author: Mr. Shanti Mansabdar is well known Consultant & Technical Advisor for factories in India – Gulf .

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