Case Study-De Pere Cabinet Is Reworking Their Way Towards Innovation


Looking To Improve Their Production Process With Mobile Technology, De Pere Was Able To Reduce Rework Items By 50% And Save Over $700,000

De Pere Cabinet is a privately owned company focused on building quality cabinetry for 44 years. Since 1975 De Pere has been finding ways to innovate and provide top-quality trends for its customers. Under the leadership of David Gerstner, De Pere has continued to build on its reputation of never settling for the status quo. 

Growth Pains And Outdated Manual Systems

Most recently, De Pere Cabinet gathered an internal team of influencers to evaluate their production process, from order entry to assembly, staging, and delivery. This assessment came on the heels of a massive season of growth. For in the previous 9 years, sales had risen by 742%, and staffing jumped from 32 to 290 employees. The outdated and manual systems were taxed beyond functionality, and the assessment team agreed that they would need new technology to support any changes in process.

All The Extra Work For Rework

Most troubling was the rework process. Whenever a piece, like a cabinet door, required additional attention it would be separated from the order for rework. Then, as the rest of the order moved through production and onto staging, an expeditor would have to physically search through the production line to verify the status of the rework, confirming the shipping readiness of the outgoing order.

This manual process was adding unnecessary delays to the shipping times, costing the company an estimated $700,000 a year in wasted time and material.

Checking And Double-Checking

Additionally, De Pere zeroed in on their struggle to quickly identify items in the pre-shipment process. Operations managers had no reliable system to mark out pieces as staged, loaded, or on the truck for delivery. Manual cross-checking was the best solution team members could rely upon up. As they prepared vehicles for shipment, they were forced to walk around staged orders and compare item counts with printed sales order sheets. This was yet another manual process that dragged down production times with zero visibility to aide course correction. 

The Critical Role of Mobile Technology

As the evaluation team gathered all of their notes and clarified the goal of the process, they were convinced that mobile technology was going to play a strategic role in supporting the change management they wanted to carry out. Ultimately, De Pere Cabinet chose Sierra Data Systems to provide mobile technology, hardware recommendations, and the solution expertise they would need to pull off the massive shift in process.

Keith Schneider, CEO of Sierra Data Systems notes:

“As soon as we sat down with the team from De Pere, it was clear their love for process improvement, and innovation was motivating all of this change, and we could not wait to get to work!”

Perfect Visibility From Sales Order to Final Delivery

Beginning with a custom integration with Cabinet Vision, Sierra Data laid the groundwork for the chain of custody process, providing the essential visibility into each sales order from order inception, through production, and on into staging and delivery.

Rethinking the Rework

To address the total lack of vision into the rework process, Sierra Data proposed a mobility solution where employees barcode each piece marked for repair, scanning its movement through the various stages of production. Most notable was the inclusion of pre-determined reason codes which clarified why the piece was being submitted for rework. This crucial step allows for accurate data to roll up into summary reports. Now managers have immediate insight into the rework counts which are filtered by reason code, worker, production team, item type, or volume.

As the dust settled, De Pere Cabinet is now measuring a 50% reduction in rework items which equates to an annual savings of $700,000 in time and material.

De Pere management shared how the reporting features have provided the most significant help in their process improvement.

“The amount of real-time production data we now have to review, gives us the tools to improve our process and plan for future innovation. We can now run reports that tell us every order with rework being done, know what stage it’s in, and who’s working on it. This would have been impossible to gather up before the Sierra Data solution.”

Getting Their Hands Around the Loading Process

This change in process also fixed De Pere’s lack of visibility within the staging area. Now, as orders are staged for loading and orders are scanned against the manifest, loaders are immediately notified of any missing items and their current location and production status. By providing this data, shipment times can now be accurately estimated, and logistics managers can make data-driven decisions that prevent short shipping and unnecessary delays.

Finishing Strong In The Last Mile

The Sierra Data software also includes the management of the last mile delivery. Drivers now have access to every order loaded on their vehicle, along with delivery addresses and related notes. As each order is scanned at final delivery, the date stamp and GPS data provide the final link in the chain of custody process.

Where Technology Meets Process

For De Pere, the project was an intentional emphasis upon blending process improvement with supporting technology. De Pere’s Continuous Improvement Manager insists,

“You are not going to win without technology. Along with skill set and training, a good product must be managed by a solid process that is then reinforced by good technology.”

This is something of a core conviction for the team at Sierra Data Systems. Schneider notes that Sierra Data Systems thrives on working with operationally-minded companies who are looking to transform their business process with mobile technology. The solution for De Pere has been yet another example of how process improvement and mobility software can be a winning combination.