Owners in the cabinet making and woodworking industries have been buoyed in recent times by the growing link brought by industry-specific software between manufacturing plant and the fiscal side of business.
Emergence of powerful new software suites, even at the industry’s entry-level has given this sector greater ability to see how and how much they are spending in their production processes, while positioning them to take on board CNC machinery to help them expand.
Louise Clarke, marketing manager of Planit (Australia), says cabinet makers and woodworkers that until now have been fearful of using software are showing keener interest since those using it are reporting positive results in the investment.
"Not too long ago, as a software supplier to cabinet makers and woodworkers we would outline all the technological prospects in using such technology, now with the number of success stories the discovery is more about how each company can plug into the same success as other companies already embracing our software," said Louise Clarke.
“The most notable example came recently when one company contacted us recently about our flagship product, Cabinet Vision, to completely overhaul what was until then an entirely manual operation.
“Not long after moving into a software environment, the owner informed us that he had been using 14 people to make seven kitchens a week, whereas now he is using seven people to make 14 kitchens a week.
"And this was one company purely at entry-level with zero software or automation to start with. For those already partially automated or software driven, upgrades to software suites are fairly regular to ensure the greatest capability possible."
Louise Clarke also points out that while the goal is to maximise ROI, the issue of technical backup is vital to maintain profit potential.
If software supply to this industry sector has any historical failings, the one most noted is the generally poor level of post-sales technical backup.
Louise Clarke states that far too many fly-by-nighters had dipped into the industry over the last few years and left stranded various companies which depended on the right advice and technical backup for a seamless entry-level transition.
"Selling software to manufacturing companies without factoring after-sales technical support is no different to selling someone a jet aircraft and disappearing before training on them how to fly it," said Mrs Clarke.
"Unfortunately, some companies have been burnt by this type of approach and we have been asked step in on many occasions to not only correct the situation but ensure the manufacturer also receives a plan that supports ongoing growth with comprehensive training programs.
“At Planit, we believe that to maximise ROI for cabinet making and woodworking companies they require extensive assistance from the point they first acquire a software-driven set-up.
“It is essential for the software suppliers’ representatives to call on a regular basis and provide a comprehensive and well resourced service department.
“The industry’s rapid technological shift now demands a partnership approach to maximise returns. Often we are picking up the pieces because a fly-by-nighter has not even been able to get its own software up and running, so the challenge is to end our clients’ frustration as rapidly as possible.”
General industry surveys show how in recent years cabinet makers in particular have been investing strongly in CNC machinery to modernise their manufacturing plants.
However, a sizeable portion of plant managers do not properly analyse their software requirements and end up choosing the wrong product under the wrong set-up.
“This is where the advent of quantifying the ROI before any money has been invested has turned the industry on its head," said Louise Clarke.
"It gives business owners and plant managers the confidence to take calculated steps forward with technology, and be doubly assured that any software supplier committing to technological backup and training is tying its own scope for success with that of its client.
"With all costs upfront and ROI clearly evident well in advance, this sector of manufacturing has been able to grow very well even in this current environment which is largely considered to be bottomed out."