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Collecting work time statistics

Started by baileyuph, November 27, 2010, 02:49:10 pm

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sofadoc

I would think that any standard labor/time chart would be based on un-interrupted time. Dealing with customers, as well as all of the other variables (fabric, foam, pattern, matching,etc.) will make it very difficult to come up with any useful data on a "T" cushion.
If the old cushion is good enough to provide a pattern for cutting the new one, and there's no pattern matching, I can do a "T" cushion in 1 hour. Others have kept me bogged down for nearly 4 hours.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

Rich

QuoteOnly takes me about 10 minutes to pattern and cut out foam for a rectangular cushion.  What takes the time is going through the scrap heap first to see if something is the correct shape and size to use before cutting into a new sheet.  To glue or not to glue.  Are pieces to glue the same density.  Can foam seams be placed where they won't be felt through the cover.  etc....  If deciding on a new sheet, what's the best layout to reduce scrap.  That process takes much longer for me than the actual cut out.


Here is where I think it's important to know your cost of doing business. How do you compare the cost of (foam in this case) to the cost of your time? I fall into this trap myself-time spent scrounging for something "I know I've got somewhere and I hate to see it go to waste", when the cost of  the item to be sold (cutting from a new sheet) is less than the time spent looking for a scrap. But, if you don't know the actual cost of your time, how do you make an accurate comparison? where do you draw the line?

QuoteI piece scrap foam together too, but I make it all ahead of time when there's enough scrap to do so. Since the scraps are already paid for I feel bad about charging the customer to piece it back together. He's getting stung on the foam and the labour for cutting his foam anyway, no need to ding him again for creating something out of nothing. Maybe I'm wrong and thats why I'm not rich. Whatev.


Did you actually charge the last customer for the scrap of foam that wasn't used on his job? If it's a worthwhile piece of foam and you have to spend time piecing it together, I would think it should all work out to the same or less than just cutting from a new sheet or why bother? One way or another, you have to get compensated for your outlay of materials plus a reasonable markup, or for your time. I don't think anyone gets rich in this business, but we sure can be our own worst enemies when it comes to getting what we deserve.

QuoteI think it would be interesting to know if the marine standards are based on straight, uninterrupted time or are from the "real world" of a busy shop... say at peak season, lol.


Here's what the MFA manual says (they are using a boat top as an example):
Totals include the time it takes to complete each of the following tasks;
Give the estimate
Design the product
Order the materials*
Receive and pay for the materials*
bend the frame
Mount and fit the top
Cut the top out
Sew the top up
Install the top
Bill and collect the money*.

*Personally, I think these items should be built into the hourly labor rate since we often will order several customer's fabrics at the same time and it's understood that we have to spend some time collecting the money on every job we do anyway.

QuoteIf its not the customer who's cushion it is on the phone, how could you dream of charging him for the call? If my plumber billed me for 1/2 an hour he spent on the phone asking the wife whats for dinner I'd be (rightly) furious. In my mind you can't bill the customer for delays that aren't his fault. I get paid to poo but not by the customer. Its part of my salary.


Peppy, I agree that you shouldn't inflate the hours to take in time spent on the phone, running out for supplies, showing another customer fabric samples etc, but your hourly labor rate has to be built around all those contingencies so that in the end, they were covered. That's why I mentioned earlier that auto repair shops are charging $85.00 plus for their work. They are covering ALL the profit drains that every business contends with on a daily basis.
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

QuoteI can do a "T" cushion in 1 hour. Others have kept me bogged down for nearly 4 hours.


Interesting numbers:  Are you saying a T is one hour and other cushions are 4 hours?  Or is that merely a range for the T?

Please indicate what you are literally doing, such as type of materials, pattern, zipper technique, is cording included if so what steps are used to cut and to sew it into the cover and any other variances or tips you can provide? 

Also, on the low number, 1 hour, are you replacing the foam?  Or using what was removed? 

Not a major factor but the shape of the T, around the rear can influence time.

Like I said, the idea here is not who is doing it best or who is right or wrong.  We are just gaining insight into techniques used and how long.

There are techniques in sewing that can save considerable time such as self welting, I have never gone deep enough to master that one with efficiency, can do but it takes me too much time and there is not much value in that; application is beneficial mostly in repair work only, my shop.  We do not have a duplicate of the equipment factories use. nor the volume to justify the same equipment.

About phone time and perhaps some of the other duties, every major company I call pays a salary for someone to take calls.  The person manning these duties do not work for free.

Smaller shops, like most here have, this factor has to be included in your hourly rate. It shouldn't be a big factor because the volume should not be near equal to an auto dealership for example.  On the other side of the scale for this subject, we continue to answer phone and provide customer support during lunch.  But, to stay in business, at the end of the day bills have to be paid, so this activity has to managed smartly and considered as a business expense.  Nothing is free, for long.

Continuing with this thread, we are getting some numbers and an understanding of techniques used, let's continue in that path with the furniture T cushion.  If you give data for a different cushion, please clarify and give details, not all cushions are the same issue.  Marine work and auto work is an upholstery skill along with furniture, but not all types are equal to each other. 

Rich:  As you know, I do marine, auto, as well as furniture and I find the marine labor numbers you present a helpful guide.  That is what they are a guide, as well as any other number.  A deeper discussion, statistical, could be persued, maybe later.

Also:  Piping - is the plastic insert in an automotive seam, as one example.  It is not actually fabricated in the custom shop instead is a product of an extrusion process.  It isn't used nearly as much today compared to 40 years ago, in auto work.   Cording, I think we all pretty well know, is made in the small shop by adding a cord like filler, and welt is a term that actually was spun out of shoe making, where it is the welt between the sole and the shoe.

Of course, over the years, these terms have been used in a very loose manner. This subject can get much more attention when the garment industry and actually some others are included.  Not the focus here, just thought I would answer your inquisition, Rich.

I was hoping someone would come along with experience in a factory setting, with respect to the T-Cushion issue.  That would likely be informative of equipments used.

Thanks and continue,

Doye

 



   

Additional input

kodydog

QuoteI was hoping someone would come along with experience in a factory setting, with respect to the T-Cushion issue.  That would likely be informative of equipments used.


Doyle,
my wife worked in a factory sewing cushions before we started our business.
The welts weren't cut separately they were made into the border on a border machine. One person just closed cushions all day, while another made the zipper and border to give to the border machine operator.  another person stuffed the cushion.  All the foam was precut and made at another factory.

Other high end factories did cut welts on the bias could NOT use the border machine and consequently it took longer.

So- a factory setting is usually much different than the custom work we do since they have a production line that may involve as many as 5 people to do  one cushion.

Hope this answers your question.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html

Rich

Doyle,
I looked up my own figures for cushions and didn't find one T cushion. I did find a few cushions that had the T extension on one side only (two or three set of cushions for a sofa) so I adjusted to get a time that would be close.

TIMES
One cushion=1.6 HR
More than one= 1.3 HR ea. (identical to first)
Add for foam= .4 HR ea.
Wrap w/ dacron= .25 ea.

MEASUREMENTS
Work from space cushion will occupy
Foam= 3/4" larger than space up to 20"
             1"  larger than space up to 30"
         
Face=Same size as space
Boxing= Same width as foam thickness

SEWING METHOD
Lay boxing on top of face, add pre-sewn piping in at same time
Flip for other side, again with boxing on top of other face.
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!

sofadoc

Since the cushion is but ONE part of the overall job, I think it's difficult to log time for just the cushion only. Take the welt, for instance. I normally cut the welt for the entire chair (cushion included) all at once. So how can I log the time for cutting just the cushion welt?
If you were going to collect worktime statistics for preparing Veal Parmigiana at an Italian restaurant, would you factor ALL of the time it took to acquire, and cook each ingredient? Or just the time it took to put them all together?
Rich cited the Marine fab manual, that listed time for each and every step, which would be fine if the cushion weren't part of a bigger picture.
Also, pattern matching sometimes has to be done in conjunction with the rest of the frame (this is where I was talking about getting bogged down for nearly 4 hours).
Cheryl is very selective about the foam she'll use. Gene serges his welt. Bobbin and June are meticulous about cutting and gluing the foam. We all do things a little differently.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

baileyuph

Kody -  Thanks for the insights of factory cushion way of doing business.  They are very efficient, to put is mildly.  I can visualize them cranking a good number out per shift.  Wish I could do that. 

Rich - Your data is consistent and from my experience very realistic.  I noted the foam size to space up to twenty inches and for up to thirty inches.  Good reinforcement for something I usually do intuitively.   Your sewing method is essentially two passes, counting presewn cord as one.  That is equal to my method, however I attach the welt to a face as the first pass.  Your two pass method is more efficient than mine, I used to do it your method.

Sofa Doc - Thanks for your input.  Channel backs usually only have single welt in the T-Cushion.  Double welt or gimp is used else where.  We get a lot of jobs where the cushions are the only work involved in the piece, for example all show wood frames and the T is a common bottom, some even have a T backrest cushion for the chair and the sofa is a variant, as Rich's data was initially based on. 

Regarding collecting time expenditures, it is valuable to some and perhaps not to others.  As a point of interest, one of my customers at UPS is a terminal manager and he explains that their corporation collects finite statistics on every thing and they benefit greatly from it.  For example, a loaded truck will leave the terminal and complete the route, if possible, by only making right hand turns.  It saves them time and gas, for they spend less time stopped in the idle mode.  They are relentless in their search for more efficient ways of doing business.   

Thanks all,
Doyle

Rich

Doyle,
I don't remember where I got that method from, but it was recommended to ensure a better fit. Since the top fabric tends to be stretched slightly, having the boxing on top both times helps to prevent bulkiness in that piece. I think adding the piping in the same pass also helps this, but you are right, it also saves time.
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

QuoteKody -  Thanks for the insights of factory cushion way of doing business.  They are very efficient, to put is mildly.  I can visualize them cranking a good number out per shift.  Wish I could do that.

It's been 20 years sense I worked in a factory. The line I worked on made 3 styles of furniture. A six person crew would crank out 30 sofas a day. That's hard for even me to believe.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html

bobbin

When you guys wrap with dacron do you glue it in place?  I am very rarely called to add dacron to any of the cushions in a boat so am unfamiliar with the "quick way" to do it.  Interestingly, most of the customers have objected to the "loft" the additon of batting adds to cushions; I prefer the look, personally. 

On the few occasions when I've added it to cushions I've made for myself I have loosely whip stitched it closed and added a muslin cover over it and under the finished cushion. 

sofadoc

Quote from: bobbin on December 01, 2010, 11:02:44 am
When you guys wrap with dacron do you glue it in place? 

Depending on the situation, I either spray glue it, on staple it along the edges with an Arrow P-22 plier type stapler.
http://shopping.yahoo.com/772945635-p22-plier-type-stapler
I also use it for basting sometimes.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

kodydog

There are times when you want a flat look and times when you want a crown. It's up to the customer.

Anything that converts into a bed like a V-Berth or something like a window seat I leave flat.

When I'm working on furniture with a built up seat front, I like to add Dacron to the cushion so it'll cradle down on to the decking nice and snug. This helps the cushion stay in place and keeps it from sagging after time. There are times a customer wants a real high crown like you see in furniture stores these days. I'll add Dacron to the top and bottom of the foam and then wrap the whole thing with another layer of Dacron. Of course when I do this I'll adjust the casing to allow for all that padding.

I wouldn't apply the Dacron loosely. It'll move around and bunch up. Whip stitching for the occasional wrap is fine, especially if your adding a muslin liner.

If you ever get a big cushion job that needs lots of wrapping. Invest in some cans of spray glue. I also have the same stapler as sofadoc. Both methods save a ton of time.

Theirs an interesting discussion started by hdflame on Oct 26, 2010 about buying bulk glue and using a paint spray gun from Harbor Freight. Only $15. I'm going to check it out.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html

sofadoc

Quote from: kodydog on December 02, 2010, 03:45:16 am
Theirs an interesting discussion started by hdflame on Oct 26, 2010 about buying bulk glue and using a paint spray gun from Harbor Freight. Only $15. I'm going to check it out.

It would seem to me that a paint spray gun would have to be cleaned after each use. I use the K-Grip sprayer (the one that looks like a mason jar with a nozzle on top). I only clean it once or twice a year.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

kodydog

QuoteI use the K-Grip sprayer (the one that looks like a mason jar with a nozzle on top). I only clean it once or twice a year.

I've seen those. Always wondered how they work. One thing for sure the spray cans are expensive.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html

sofadoc

Quote from: kodydog on December 02, 2010, 04:16:49 am
QuoteI use the K-Grip sprayer (the one that looks like a mason jar with a nozzle on top). I only clean it once or twice a year.

I've seen those. Always wondered how they work. One thing for sure the spray cans are expensive.

They have a wide nozzle that doesn't clog easily. I use Camie 313B adhiesive in the 1 gal. cans. Also, I bought a case of mason jars at the grocery store. Instead of cleaning the jar, I just replace it. I only have to clean the nozzle occasionally.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban