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| | |-+  Too bad we've been left in the dust
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: Too bad we've been left in the dust  ( 12422 )
Rich
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« : December 24, 2011, 10:29:09 AM »

I'm doing a bathroom remodel and wanted to get some tips on installing crown moldings so I went on youtube and found this video. It was helpful, but it also got me thinking about how little improvement has occurred in the methods we use in our industry while others have sailed right past us. I think it's sad.
Take a look at this video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKiud3MOSkY

Why has this happened? I have my own thoughts, but first, what do you think?
Rich

Everything's getting so expensive these days, doesn't anything ever stay at the same price? Well the price for reupholstery hasn't changed much in years!
baileyuph
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« #1 : December 25, 2011, 04:15:10 PM »

The question potentially draws several comments, to name a couple perhaps:

What we do is still more of an art.  There is a lot of judgment to this work.  Judgment is executed best from experience, something that can't be easily taught.  Except in a very modern, automated environement that takes the art out of it.

Of course on the marketing side, there is more money in supporting updating and such as you are doing.

Some do it yourself endeavors can be more easily grasp with the neat toys of today.

As stated this is just one perspective of probably many.

Doyle
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« #2 : December 26, 2011, 01:22:00 AM »

Your link was fun. If I was a company installing crown molding to 5 or 6 houses a day with 10 employes, I could see investing in those high tech tools.
 
Check out this laser fabric cutter

http://www.rdlasercutters.com/laser-fabric-cutting.html







   

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byhammerandhand
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« #3 : December 26, 2011, 12:09:35 PM »

Seems like there were some folks here who spent time in lean manufacturing that might have more insights than I do.

There is probably not a process that can use some optimization or improvement, either to improve time, reduce error, or produce repeatable results.  Generally, the first step in this is to determine the process procedure.   you can't improve something if you don't do it consistently.  

Sometimes it can be as simple as:
- workspace organization - do you know where your tools and supplies are?  are they were they use them most often?
- redundant tools  - have the same tool at each workstation to avoid running all around
- more efficient tools - produce repeatable results or in less time
- workflow organization - organize your work along the "kitchen triangle"    What are your most three common tools / workstations and how are they organized relative to each other?

Obviously, upholstery can be done more efficiently -- otherwise they could not do it in factories, sometimes with semi-skilled machine operators.  I think treating it as "art" could be a disservice and excuse.

For a long time, I worked in an environment where there was an acknowledged 10 fold factor of production from the most to least productive person.   That did not count number of errors introduced, where it was also acknowledged that for each step in the process (specification - design - build - release) for each step along the way, the cost of correcting a defect went up by a factor of 10.  For example, to correct a design error once released was 100 times what it would cost to fix it while still on paper.
« : December 26, 2011, 12:11:10 PM byhammerandhand »

Keith

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas A. Edison
kodydog
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« #4 : December 26, 2011, 12:24:43 PM »

Interesting Hammer. The furniture collage in Hickory NC has whole classes in manufacturing work flow. From the first stick of wood coming into the wood working shop. Flowing smoothly all the way to loading the finished product on to the truck.

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« #5 : December 26, 2011, 12:57:51 PM »

An interesting discussion indeed. 

I couldn't agree more about the work area set up!  When I'm working in my own shop I'm always pleasantly surprised at how quickly a project goes; I know where my tools are and I never have to clean off a place to start working.  But it has taken a lot of time to figure out what sorts of work stations are most useful for the variety of things I do here.  I have a large padded cutting table that can be used for pressing (drapery work).  I have good tabling around my machines (no dragging fabric up and over the machine bench).  And I have an area that allows me to work on a piece of furniture if I want to.  I have a number of time saving attachments and I can instantly put my hands on them.   Knowing you have the right tool and where it is is KEY. This is especially important if you do a lot of "one of" jobs. 

"Hunting" for something that wasn't put away eats up time quickly.  Sure, the item usually "turns up" but while it's gone the use of it is lost as well, and you can't recover lost time.  It has taken a lot of years and some expensive lessons to ram home the lesson of cleaning up and putting my tools away when I finish a project.  The project isn't finished until the mess has been cleared and the customer called/billed. 

I would add that it's equally important to be open and receptive to ideas/suggestions/innovations to make your special brand of work as easy as it can be.  Working smarter not harder!  A lot of people don't do that... they look at their spaces and figure it's one way and it has to stay that way; as though changing something is an admission that they "got it wrong" the first time around.  I am always jotting down something I could change to make a project easier (piping the air from the compressor, for instance, instead of dragging around a hose).    Sometimes it takes awhile to get it done, but even little things can make a big difference. 
byhammerandhand
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« #6 : December 26, 2011, 04:44:00 PM »

While I was out driving today, I remembered a book I read a couple of years ago.
http://www.amazon.com/Checklist-Manifesto-How-Things-Right/dp/0312430000/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324935346&sr=8-1


It was an interesting read.   The author is a surgeon and did research on mistakes done in surgery.   He (or someone else in his group) developed a one-page checklist fur surgery and implemented it against control groups.   Their research was done in USA, Europe, and a number of third-world countries.   In all cases, surgical mistakes were dramatically reduced by the use of this checklist.  It included the obvious things: correct patient, correct procedure, correct side of body, all instruments accounted for before and after closing up, etc.   But there were also some not-so-obvious things like everyone in the operating theater introducing themselves prior to the procedure.  They believed that this degree of familiarity allowed anyone not to be too reserved to point out issues during the procedure.   

At that time, I got started on a new process and developed a checklist for myself.   I found later that if I was missing things, I would just add it to my checklist and it became part of my regular procedure.

I posted a video a few weeks ago (maybe on Carr's web site) about the guy who has each of his employees make a twenty second improvement in their work every day.   He is fairly fanatical about this.   I ended up labeling a few of my tools so I could see easily from their storage position which was the 1/2" chisel and which is the 1/2" chisel, for example.

Keith

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas A. Edison
Rich
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« #7 : December 26, 2011, 08:20:17 PM »

This is frustrating. I posted a several paragraph reply earlier today and now I don't see it.
Anyway, I'll do it again (and copy to notepad as well).
Kody, I think the tools in the video would pay for themselves even if a lower level of work were done. The link to the cutter was an example of something that would be helpful (maybe a necessity in today's world) to a manufacurer who makes multiple cuttings of the same layout, but for most small upholstery shops I'm quite sure the cost would be too high to justify. It is the point I'm trying to make though.

Hammer, your point number three, is the only one that we have very little control over since the better efficiency tools are not being made for upholsterers as they are for other trades.

Quote
Working smarter not harder!  A lot of people don't do that... they look at their spaces and figure it's one way and it has to stay that way; as though changing something is an admission that they "got it wrong" the first time around.

bobbin, that's an interesting observation. If I figure out or hear of a better way of doing something, I can hardly wait for the time to rip it out and build a better mousetrap, but I suppose there are some who stick with the old "tried and true" methods out of pride.

Hammer, thanks for the link to that book, I want to get it. I've been a believer in checklists for a long time, my only problem is sticking with them!
I do like the part (I skimmed a few pages on Amazon) where he says "Much of the world and universe is-and will remain-outside our control." It's a great reason to believe in a higher power, but that's another topic.
Rich


Everything's getting so expensive these days, doesn't anything ever stay at the same price? Well the price for reupholstery hasn't changed much in years!
kodydog
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« #8 : December 26, 2011, 09:31:11 PM »


While I was out driving today, I remembered a book I read a couple of years ago.
http://www.amazon.com/Checklist-Manifesto-How-Things-Right/dp/0312430000/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324935346&sr=8-1

Thanks Hammer. Just reserved it at the library. On CD

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gene
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« #9 : December 26, 2011, 10:03:33 PM »

Here's a 'copy and paste' copy of my Procedure List that I use. The actual word doc is two columns on 1 page, and has boxes for writing the info and boxes for check marks. This gives you all the data that I collect and try not to miss for my jobs.

New Project Information
Date:
Company:
Contact:
Address:
phone #:
     fax #:
    email:

Where did they get my name?
Reason for contact?

Project?

ESTIMATE PROCEDURE

 Gather all info needed for quote.

 Estimated number of hours: __________.

 Put company / personal info on QB?  

 Create ESTIMATE on QB
    and then send to customer by:

            phone:        in person
          (always send written Estimate)

            fax         snail mail:          email      

 Staple copy of ESTIMATE to this sheet
    and file at shop.

INVOICE PROCEDURE

When ESTIMATE becomes an order:  
 Collect ½ amount due.     Scan check.
 Record on QB.                  Deposit into                
                                                 bank.                                                            

 Create INVOICE in QB from ESTIMATE.

 Actual number of hours: _____________

 Take picture of project.

 Print 2 copies (1 copy if faxed or emailed.)

 Give INVOICE copy to customer at time of my delivery or their pick-up.

 Collect TOTAL remaining amount due.

 Scan check or money order on computer.

 Record all transactions on QB.

 Deposit money collected into bank account.

 Attach copy of INVOICE marked “PAID”
    to this sheet.

 File alphabetically in file drawer.

« : December 26, 2011, 10:07:46 PM gene »

QUALITY DOES NOT COST, IT PAYS!
bobbin
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« #10 : December 27, 2011, 05:41:56 AM »

Over the years I've worked in a number of shops and in various aspects of the "needle trades".  It has been my observation in those years that the majority of those shops placed little value on innovation.  I don't know if that's part and parcel of the "small business mindset" or not, but rarely have I found an employer who was genuinely interested in what I could bring to the table. 

It's the same thing now.  In over 12 years the only thing that's changed where I'm presently employed are the faces.  Not a new tool, not an efficient binding set up, and there is but ONE 1/4" welting set up for the 3 machines that all use the same feet.  An honest evaluation of the tabling and how to improve (add!) useful workspace for two machines? no way. The rulers are so old the numbers have worn off and of the two retractable tape measures neither will lock the tape at an extended point... .  But they aren't discarded or replaced.  I have asked and my requests have fallen on deaf ears, more usually they're met with condescension and a dismissiveness that I suspect is merely a manifestation of insecurity.  Whatever the reason, the point is all those little things add up to lost time and needless duplication of effort.  And inevitably lead to the loss of competent and skilled employees (difficult to find and expensive to train).

As I struggle toward independence I have tried to come up with ways to make things easier in my own little shop.  I have mental check lists, but both 'hammer and Gene have  gotten me thinking about committing that checklist to paper and and a proper "form".  Interestingly, I have always written procedures for the work I do.  I am able to go back and find a procedure for something I do only occasionally with ease.  And my notebooks have been a great time saver for me (and my employer) over the years. 
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« #11 : December 28, 2011, 11:02:40 PM »

So I work at a used car superstore and we use standardized work.  standardized work is close to a check list but it is to the next level in the detail shop in the wash bay all the work is broken down to every step.  The steps are as small as walk to cart or pick up wash glove and brush.  This sounds crazy but does help to have all the cars look the same when finished and have the same quality.  We also take it a step further by having time studies.  Those are how long each step takes down to the second.  all this stuff works for repetitive work but I think some stuff could be taken and used in a trim shop.  One of the things that would really work is the Kan Ban system for ordering supplies ( http://www.ehow.com/about_6299631_information-kanban.html?ref=Track2&utm_source=ask )  We make a 3x5 index card with the name of the supply, cost, how long it takes to receive it, how many to order, and a minimum of how many should be on hand.  once the minimum is reached we turn the card in and order the supplies
Rich
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« #12 : December 29, 2011, 09:45:39 PM »

The kanban system sounds like an inventory system I've seen used in small hardware stores. Does the card get marked every time an item is taken out?
Rich

Everything's getting so expensive these days, doesn't anything ever stay at the same price? Well the price for reupholstery hasn't changed much in years!
gene
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« #13 : December 31, 2011, 09:46:50 AM »

Technology eliminates the need for craftsmanship.

Look at the boom in the 1970s to 1990s with home wood work shops. You no longer needed to spend years learning how to work with wood. You only needed to read the instructions on how to use the technology. For example, instead of years to learn how to cut dovetail joints, you spend an hour learning how to run the machine that will cut them for you.

Upholstery has had it's share of technology:
You don't need to spend years learning how to spit tacks. You only need to learn how to pull the trigger on a staple gun.
You don't need to spend years learning how to 8 way hand tie springs and mold horse hair and cotton. You only need to learn how to cut foam with an electric carving knife.
You don't need to spend years learning how to hand sew panels of fabric onto furniture. You only need to learn how to use curve eaze and tack strips.

Technology is about mass production, which is all about competing on price. Anything that can only be done one or two at a time, such as reupholstey, will always need craftsmanship because it will never be cost efficient to create technology to eliminate the craftsmanship.

It's not "too bad we've been left in the dust". Because we have been left in the dust, our craftsmanship is still needed and we still have jobs - as long as there is a desire or need for our services.

Just my thoughts on an interesting topic.

gene






QUALITY DOES NOT COST, IT PAYS!
Rich
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« #14 : December 31, 2011, 03:08:30 PM »

So Gene, would you say that the carpenter swinging a hammer is more of a craftsman than the one who uses a nail gun? Is a cement mason more of a craftsman if he mixes his cement by hand rather than in a machine? Would you pay either of these people for the extra time it takes to do it that way because their using old world craft techniques? Does it produce a better looking, or longer lasting job?
I'm thinking you've answered no to all these questions, b/c what I'm talking about is machinery that enables the job to be done more quickly w/o sacrificing quality or workmanship. Now, if youwould say that the better tools enable the early adopters to make more money until everyone uses the same tools and that then the playing field is level again which results in no economic advantage, I'd have to agree with you. When that happens, we may all have to produce more work to stay competitive. But, as the cost of an hour's worth of labor has gone up, a smaller customer base exists for this work which means either more upholsterers chasing after more affluent customers or many closing their doors altogether (which is what has happened). I'd rather see the upholstery trade keeping up with the times and having the option of staying competitive. Actually, factories have made the decision for us by adopting techniques that enable them produce furniture so much more quickly that there isn't as much reason for a customer as there used to be to choose reupholstery over new. True, so much of what is factory made is not as good as what they may be discarding, but that doesn't seem to have played a big part of their thinking. Why not? I guess they don't realize the difference in quality or just don't care. Maybe more time efficient tools would've made the difference? I don't know, but when so many people don't even consider reupholstery anymore, that can't be a good thing in my opinion.
Rich

Everything's getting so expensive these days, doesn't anything ever stay at the same price? Well the price for reupholstery hasn't changed much in years!
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