Further proof of the growing belief that niche manufacturing sectors can thrive in stagnant economic conditions has shown itself in the cabinet making and woodworking sector in Australia and New Zealand.
Despite finance media chronicling the region’s stable, yet bottomed out, building and property development sector for some time now, it is industry-specific software with its lean manufacturing capability that has stepped in to streamline the industry and keep jobs safe.
Recognised software specialist for the cabinet making woodworking sector, Planit, says this would not have been possible as little as three to five years ago before companies suddenly seized on the benefits.
According to Planit (Australia), the market has definitely bottomed out but cabinet makers no longer sweat on the next housing boom.
According to Planit (Australia), any building and construction or general housing boom raises the demand for kitchens, bathroom fit outs, commercial cabinets and many other solutions of this nature, so this type of development is always welcome.
But the uptake of software specifically engineered to cater for this manufacturing sector in the lean times has made all the difference and ensured profit margins can be up kept regardless of whether the industry is booming or not.
Apart from fledgling development activity in central Melbourne, there is not any major housing boom in Australia or New Zealand at the moment.
But due to these tight market conditions, many of the smarter cabinet makers have invested in affordable software to make sure they grow well.
Bearing in mind that cabinet making is now possible with affordable CNC driven machinery, it is found that companies which introduce software-based nesting into their businesses are the ones benefiting a lot.
Nesting is described as the completion of one kitchen, on one machine, from one drawing.
In strict manufacturing terms, software-based nesting has taken what was traditionally regarded as nine independent steps of manufacturing (a remnant of the manual era) and reduced this to four steps.
The processes of design, pricing, making cutting lists and optimising are all handled it the initial step by the software.
The second step, known as nest-based manufacturing, encompasses cutting, drilling and routing.
The final two steps are edging and assembly.
Therefore, what is effectively achieved is a reduction of manufacturing processes by almost 50% - an incredibly high rate, many manufacturing industries would definitely want.
Specific sector represents a significant shift in the industrial mindset. It has created a work environment allowing the upskilling of staff and has taken away the fears of a lockdown system.
This is really the upside. Software has given cabinet makers and woodworking companies the opportunity - even at a very small scale -- to profitably operate a just-in-time industry.
It means not wasting space on the factory floor with materials that may never be used, lower stress levels for employees, heightened profit margins and quickened job manufacturing times.
But above all, the software developments are positioning these companies to expand effortlessly the moment any building and construction boom comes around.