August 22 - 25, 2018

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA| USA

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But I Don’t Want to Run a Software Company

by Editor 30. April 2018 10:49

By: Randall S. Becker. Factory Automation Consultant. CBD of Central Ontario.

At IWF Atlanta 2016, we saw a virtual cornucopia of sparkling new hardware on the floor that made us all tremble with glee and panic at the same time. An increasing requirement to use these fantastic productivity assists is full-on automation. Sure, you could always do it by hand, and keep your factory small and rustic, but to really grow, you probably have already decided that automation is the thing. Even existing products, like edge banders, which are notoriously hands-on, are getting technology face lifts. That’s right, when you wear out your awesome five-year-old bander that did so much for you, you may find that the new one has a sparkling new screen on it, with network connectivity, automatic this, barcode that, and oh my goodness how are you going to use it, and don’t touch the screen with glue and solvent on those hands.

The advice in 2016 was, “Go hire your teenage kids because they know all about computers”. I’ve been a teenage kid, really. I swear. And back then, yes, I was a wunderkind, who could program up a storm on almost anything. But I am not normal or representative, then or now. Understanding how to use a smart phone or laptop is a lot different than running a CNC or bander. Here’s why, and what you might want to consider:

Running a CNC is more than hitting the green start button. The production side of your company, the factory, the part of your organization where the dust collection is so important, is about running the machines consistently and following the regular processes. That hasn’t changed much although the tools of the trade have become really complicated compared to even ten years ago. There’s a good chance you can teach existing staff how to use the automation. The number of steps required to run one of those machines is not that large, and it mostly comes down to lubrication and cleanliness. It is the development side of the shop that has really evolved to confound you – you may not be calling it that, yet.

The development side is where you are becoming a software company. The role of your designer/cutlister/CNC coder – you know, the kid you were supposed to hire – must understand how to get from an idea to a set of instructions that a big machine, which can do real damage, can understand. As a low-tech owner/craft-master, you could understand the tooling and techniques required to get from the idea in your idea to a set of instructions for people in the back. That kid should do the same thing, except there are no people in the back to talk to, there’s a laser, or router, or bander glue feed, or inventory robots. I don’t envy them – well, I do really because for me it’s a lot of fun -but they need to understand and embrace your entire business and understand the nuances of each tool. They are not using a computer, they are telling a computer how to control very expensive and potentially destructive tools.

The secret sauce is to be able to follow a development to production process that includes quality control and testing of components that are being sent to the factory. I’m pretty sure that I never heard most of those words when I was a kid. Software development processes are very similar to coming up with a new design for a table. You must make sure your designs are going to work before you send it into production and repeated exactly thousands of times – you don’t want to have to replace them all if a joint is cut badly or improperly fastened, exactly as told to the machinery, right? What I learned from being involved in factory automation is that you need to have a level of process maturity that comes with experience. You need the technology background, sure, but you also need to know the business. As the owner/manager, you need to have people who are know how to program your machines and can take direction to follow your manufacturing processes. That’s not a kid with a phone.

Learn more about this subject during Randall's session, "Managing Your Soft Assets - Advanced Manufacturing Processes for Managing Your CAD Component Designs and More" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

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Pricing for Profitably

by Editor 27. April 2018 11:37

By: Sean Benetin, Millwork & More, LLC

Every woodworker I know struggles with pricing. If you have reviewed FMDC magazine’s annual pricing survey, you know that quotes for the same project vary drastically from company to company, and it’s not just the regional factor. Why is this so difficult?

Quite simply, it’s difficult to be competitive and still make a profit. So how do you find the balance?

In truth, pricing is not nearly as complicated as it appears. However, in order to profitably price projects, you need to know the answers to the following questions:

  • What is your hourly rate(s)?
  • What is your minimum break even yearly/monthly/weekly?
  • How much do you pay yourself as an “employee” of your company?
  • Total invested in your company? If you had to start from scratch tomorrow what would it cost?

Easier said than done, right? How do you even begin to calculate these things? How can you put a value on what some may consider “intangibles”? Do you wish that there was a “cheat sheet” that you could use? Why isn’t there an Easy Button for pricing and profitability?

Here’s the good news: there is an Easy Button – an actual “cheat sheet” does exist. I have taken the time to develop spreadsheets and pricing structures to calculate the numbers needed to price profitably. And, here’s even better news: I’m willing to share this information with you.

During my seminar at IWF, you will have the opportunity to learn “The Art of Pricing Profitably”.  In an straight-forward way, I explain the importance of knowing your numbers. Not only will you gain an understanding of key financial concepts, you will also leave with prepared spreadsheets that you can use to do your own calculations.  Essentially the class will set you up for future success. Consider this your springboard to profitability.  

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Sustainable Innovation is Built on Trust

by Editor 27. April 2018 11:28

By: Monique MacKinnon, Energetic Evolution

Everything is energy. And since hugging a tree can benefit our mental and physical well-being, do different woods elicit different moods? The simple answer is yes.

Woodworkers and furniture manufacturers can also influence customers’ states: through their craft and level of consciousness. Consider this: How do you respond to people who trust you? Are you more likely to trust or distrust them? On the consciousness scale, trust is in the neutral position.

Therefore, if you trust yourself, does trusting others come more easily to you than for someone with trust issues? Do you prefer doing business with and being someone with a toned trust muscle, developed through years of discernment? If your company or business is known for being trustworthy and reliable, how does this affect your and your sphere of influence’s prosperity and quality of life?

We will deep dive beyond tree hugging into where you most trust yourself to be successfully and sustainably innovative in the woodworking industry.

 Learn more about this topic during the "Sustainable Innovation is Built on Trust" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

 

 

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General

BLUE LIGHT

by Editor 26. April 2018 13:52

A COMPANY MAKING BUMPERS FOR SEMI TRUCKS HAD ADOPTED THE IDEAS IN THE GOAL, IDENTIFIED WELDING AS THEIR BOTTLENECK, MADE GREAT PROGRESS BUT EVENTUALLY RAN OUT OF CAPACITY AT WELDING.  THEIR SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM WAS TO EXPAND THE PLANT, BUY MORE EQUIPMENT AND HIRE MORE WELDERS – A SOLUTION, BUT NOT THE TODAY SOLUTION THAT CORPORATE WANTED.  SO THEY ASKED TO TAKE A SECOND LOOK.    

WE REVIEWED THE PRODUCTION DATA WITH PLANT MANAGER WHICH SUPPORTED THAT THEY WERE OUT OF CAPACITY.  WE SAID IN OUR EXPEREINCE THERE IS ALWAYS AT LEAST 25% HIDDEN CAPACITY, BUT INSTEAD OF ARGUING WE SUGGESTED THAT WE DIRECTLY OBSERVE WELDING.  BEFORE OBSERVING AN OPERATION WE ALWAYS DEVELOP A MENTAL IMAGE OF WHAT GOOD SHOULD LOOK LIKE (WGLL).  OUR MENTAL IMAGE WAS THAT WE WOULD SEE A LOT OF BLUE LIGHT –  WELDING TORCHES ON AND SPARKS FLYING.

WE TOOK A POSITION WHERE WE COULD SEE THREE WELDING BOOTHS – THERE WAS BLUE LIGHT BEHIND EACH METAL CHAIN SCREEN.  AFTER A FEW MINUTES THE BLUE LIGHT WENT OUT IN ONE BOOTH, THE WELDER SHUT DOWN HIS TORCH TOOK OFF HIS MASK AND GLOVES, WENT TO THE NEXT BOOTH, TAPPED THE WELDER ON THE SHOULDER AND SPOKE TO HIM.  THE SECOND WELDER REMOVED HIS MASK, GLOVES AND TURNED OFF HIS TORCH.  HE ACCOMPANIED THE FIRST WELDER TO HIS BOOTH AND HELPED HIM LIFT SOME VERY HEAVY WELDED BUMPERS OFF THE TABLE AND LIFT SOME UNWELDED BUMPERS ONTO THE TABLE AND RETURNED TO HIS BOOTH.

THE FIRST WELDER DIDN’T IMMMEDIATELY BEGIN WELDING AND SEEMED TO BE SCRAPEING SOMETHING OFF THE BUMPERS.  THE PLANT MANAGER, NOTING OUR PUZZLEMENT, EXPLAINED THAT THEY PUT A PLASTIC FILM ON THE BUMPERS TO KEEP THEM FROM GETTING SCUFFED AND SCRATCHED AS THEY MOVED THROUGH THE PLANT.  THE WELDERS NEEDED TO SCRAPE OFF A SMALL AREA IN ORDER TO WELD ON THE STRUTS.   WHILE WE WERE TALKING THE BLUE LIGHT IN THE THIRD BOOTH WENT OUT.  THE WELDER EMERGED, TOOK A HAND TRUCK, MOVED THE COMPLETED WORK OUT OF THE BOOTH AND WENT TO LOOK FOR THE NEXT JOB.  SINCE WELDING WAS THE BOTTLNECK, THERE WERE MANY JOBS TO BE WELDED – A LARGE PILE.  AS THE READER SUSPECTS, THE NEXT JOB WAS NEAR THE BACK OF THE PILE, WHICH REQUIRED MOVING MANY PALLETS TO REACH IT.

THE PLANT MANAGER TURNED TO US AND SAID “SEE MY PEOPE ARE WORKING ALL THE TIME”.  WE AGREED, THE WELDERS WERE BUSTING THEIR BUTTS.  AT THE SAME TIME THERE WAS VERY LITTLE BLUE LIGHT.  TWO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES OF THE SAME SITUATION.  RATHER THAN SUGGEST SPECIFIC IDEAS ON HOW THEY COULD PRODUCE MORE, WE SIMPLY SHARED OUR PERSPECTIVE – VERY LITTLE BLUE LIGHT.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE PLANT MANAGER REACTED?  WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE TO INCREASE PRODUCTION?

LEARN THE RESULTS IN OUR NEXT BLOG AND COME CHECK OUR SESSION "RESULTS MATTER" AT THE IWF 2018 EDUCATION CONFERENCE.

 

 

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The Six Steps to Getting Anywhere

by Editor 26. April 2018 13:47

By: Gary Vitale, GVF Business Advisory

Why does it seem so effortless for some businesses and sports teams to succeed?  What is it that makes it look so easy?

I have looked at these questions from the sports angle as well as the business angle and the one common factor for success, whether in business or sports is they both have a well thought out process they follow and engrain in their teams.  They tirelessly communicate this process and make sure everyone from the lowest level in the organization understands what is required of them and what their specific job is.  And, they hold each team member accountable for doing their job.  So how do you develop a process that makes sense for your company and your team?

The first step is to really understand where you are now.  Only then can you begin to develop a road map to get you where you want to go.  And in the business world, this can mean you have more than one team working towards the same goals but going in different directions.  Sometimes it can get complicated.

To solve this problem and give each team the proper directions I have found the “MapQuest” process of problem solving to be extremely helpful.  Not only can it be used to get you from point A to point B, but it gives each team member input and a clear understanding of what success means.

In simple terms, the “Six Steps to Getting Anywhere” follows the MapQuest process.

  1. Where are you now?
  2. Where do you want to go?
  3. How do you get there?
  4. How long will it take?
  5. How much will it cost?
  6. What are the alternate routes?

Like any other journey, proper preparation makes the trip more enjoyable.  But make no mistake, there will be roadblocks and detours and how your team reacts to these setbacks can make the difference between success and failure.  However, if you keep your eye on the end point and go back to the process when you get stuck, eventually you will get where you want to go.

Successful coaches and business executives spend countless hours on their process.  They revise the process over time to address rule changes or changes in the business environment and continually educate their team members to ensure they get the best results when a new situation arises.  The “Process” is not a one and done thing.  It continues to evolve and improve.  Make sure you give it the time and energy that each of the six steps requires and you will achieve the success you are looking for and will have competitors looking at your team and wondering how you do it year after year.

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Biophilia - What is it?

by Editor 26. April 2018 11:51

By Jessica McNaughton, CaraGreen

Biophilia? No, it is not some nefarious relationship with plants. Well, not entirely. This hot new design trend is not some “look” or color scheme, it’s a set of design techniques that put people before profits in building construction. While some people are quick to put biophilic design in the category of “another green building standard,” it is absolutely not.

Biophilic design has made its entrée into the design community with data in hand to back up its claims. Unlike some other green building standards, which needed to be put in place and operated for some time in order to prove that they were worthwhile (think Green Globes, LEED), Biophilic principles have existed for decades and their results are widely known. It is just now that design professionals and researchers are pulling these together en masse and presenting them under the umbrella of biophilic design.

There are three pillars of Biophilic Design: Nature in the Space, Nature of the Space and Natural Analogues. To simplify, Nature in the Space is literally incorporating nature into the space. Adding water, plants, fish ponds, herbs etc.

By definition, humans are drawn to nature and natural things. Nature stimulates the parasympathetic system and lowers stress. Studies have shown that walks outside, being around trees and nature in general lower stress levels. Studies also show that employees are more productive, hospital stays are shorter, and patients use less medication when biophilic design is used.* The data exists and it is compelling. That is why the architect and design community is embracing the biophilic concepts in their upcoming projects. It is not a ground-up concept either; biophilic design can be incorporated after the fact using plants or greenery, reconfiguring furniture, incorporating sound control or in a myriad of other ways.

Biophilic design is not a credit based standard either, where you need to achieve a number of points in order to hit a certification level. It is not some placard you mount on your building to give yourselves a high-five for building green. It is about the health of the building occupants and it is not an all-or-nothing approach. You can use one design element or hundreds of instances. It is whatever works for your space.

 

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THE IMPORTANCE OF HVLP TECHNOLOGY

by Editor 26. April 2018 11:46

By: Bill Boxer, Modern Finishing Products, Inc.

Every industry has its innovation and growth. Spray finishing technology is no exception.

Flashback to 1984 and the new buzz word in finishing circles was HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) as this alternative spray finishing technology began to take hold and new-found importance.

As we began to look more seriously at environmental concerns we had a technology that promised less overspray and higher transfer efficiency. Early certified testing showed efficiency over 80% which meant 80%+ paint staying on a substrate as opposed to lower percentages with traditional spray painting methods. This interpreted to less pollutants (VOC’s) in the environment along with dramatic paint savings in the finishing environment.

Two developments in HVLP technology emerged. One, turbine or turbospray technology, the origin of HVLP dating back to the early 1960’s (under the name turbo spray) and then modified conventional spray gun technology to enable conventional spray guns to meet the HVLP standard of 10psi or less maximum atomizing pressure.

HVLP Turbine or turbospray technology opened many new spray finishing opportunities since it is portable, uses standard electricity and as already noted dramatically reduces overspray. Paint spraying in environments that were previously impossible now became reality. Additional benefits of HVLP Turbospray technology were a continuous source of clean, dry air with no water or oil contamination.

Compressed air HVLP spray guns provided options for spray finishers and shops that had adequate compressors and did not have the need for portability.

Early HVLP found great benefits in the woodworking environment from small home shops to professional cabinet shops and even some larger factory applications where off-line projects could be easily sprayed. Other industries quickly discovered the features and benefits of using HVLP spray finishing technology.

Today, HVLP has established itself as an important technology as part of the greater spray finishing market from woodworking to fine automotive spray finishing.

 To learn more about this topic, check out Bill's session "HLVP Turbospray Technology, Past-Present-Future" at the IWF 2018 Education Conference.

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Do you know what your business is worth?

by Editor 24. April 2018 15:39

By: Jack West, Federated Insurance

Often, shop owners who are ready to get out of the business simply opt for selling off their equipment at auction and leave it at that. However, it’s important to think about this critical topic long before you are ready to move on. Ideally, you should have an exit plan established the day you start your company. That being said, if you haven’t thought about this yet it’s not too late to start the process.

So how do you set up your woodworking business for eventual sale and maximize its value? To start, you need to know what banks and buyers will be looking for; how to get it all in order; valuation methods; timelines; real-world expectations and common pitfalls. Successful business successions don’t just happen, they require planning and implementation.

Easier said than done, right?

The obvious first step is determining your overall objectives. Do you want to make more money while you own the business? Or perhaps you want to have more free time while you own the business? Maybe you are interested in having enough money for a good life after leaving the business. Or do you want to keep the business in the family?

The ultimate question is what kind of lifestyle do you need (or want) on complete retirement? This involves determining a “reasonable” budget as well as a “stretch” budget. Then you need to be realistic calculating the amount that you currently have saved and also how much more you will need to get where you want to be.

Once you’ve determined what you want, your insurance company is a good place to go next. Many insurance providers, like Federated Insurance, offer valuation services as part of their packages. They can refer you to an attorney who is an expert on the subject and can assist you through the process.

For more tips about how to sell your company, attend the IWF seminar “Building a valuable business”.

 

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General

The struggles of running a small shop

by Editor 24. April 2018 15:33

By: Dan Moshe, Tech Guru and Caring Technology Company

If you are the owner, leader or manager of an entrepreneurial organization, it's a given that you want to see your business consistently run better and grow more quickly. But even the most successful entrepreneurs find that running a business can be more challenging than they expected. Many regularly grapple with a variety of problems – a lack of control over time, the market or the company; people not listening, understanding, or following through; profit (or lack thereof); an inability to break through to the next level of growth; and “magic pill” solutions that don’t prove to be very magical. If these problems seem all too familiar, you’re not alone.

I’ve found that this resonates even more in the woodworking industry since many of the small business owners are craftsmen at their core. They may not have any formal training in managing a business, but they are the masters of their craft. Typically, these two skill sets are not found in the same person.  Craftsmen are truly artists – they are creative and passionate. Businessmen, on the other hand, are analytical and logical. A creative-analytical person is truly unique and hard to come by, yet there are ways to harness business skills for even the most creative craftsman.

Successful small shop owners don’t necessarily have to possess the required skills to effectively run their business, because there are resources they can take advantage of.  One of the ways to help craftsmen manage their business is to create systems. These systems can be as simple as paper checklists or as robust as project management software. You could still be using a Rolodex to manage your contacts or perhaps you’ve implemented a full-scale CRM. Whatever you choose to use, systems help streamline processes and procedures so you can run your business – instead of it running you.

Learn more about creating systems to manage your business, in my seminar during IWF: “Are you running your business or is it running you?

 

 

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General

Metal Resin Casting: Making a Metal Cabinet Pull or Finial in 30 Minutes or Less

by Editor 23. April 2018 11:17

By: Scott Grove, Furniture Designer: ScottGrove.com

Why would you spend hours laboring over a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture only to add a piece of store-bought hardware that your neighbor has on his kitchen cabinets? This demonstration is about mold making and cold metal resin casting used to create or reproduce a cabinet pull or finial in just about any form or texture, whether it’s a found object such as a pine cone, a hand-sculpted object, or even your big toe.

For less than five dollars each and in 20 minutes time, you can make your own unique cast object that is durable and has the look and feel of real metal using smooth-on casting products.

This process can help to embellish your work with unique details and avoid chain-store-bought hardware, cabinet pulls, finials, or ornamentation. Adding these accent metal features can be the perfect icing on the cake. No special equipment is required and casting can be easier than baking that cake.

I’ll cover a few basic concepts and show you how to create simple forms out of cold cast resin bronze, brass, or aluminum using Smooth-On mold making materials. You’ll personalize your work even more and take it to the next level.

Join me for "Cold Metal Casting and Reproduction for Furniture Embellishment" on Friday, August 24th from 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

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