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We thought we knew what we were getting into

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Tech Talk by Peter Mate
Peter Mate is co-owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info email peterm@planitcanada.ca

There’s no turning back.
Our kitchen renovation has begun. We’re officially living in a chaotic world of dust, no sink and no cooking. Our toaster and kettle haven’t seen this much use in years… My mother-in-law is always welcoming, but there’s only so much ‘in-law’ a guy needs…
During this process, I’ve come to appreciate a lot of things. Since we’re in the ‘everything-is-ripped-out’ phase and we’re picking the elements to put it back together, I’ll share some thoughts on that part and fill you all in on the results in my next column.
Being from the industry, I thought I knew what to expect and how to make it easy. It’s not easy. There are so many decisions that need to be made and so many things need to be completed in the right order. Making sure that everything works together is a more daunting task than it appears.
I’d have to say, that the logistics and the amount of planning involved, surprised me the most.
There are a lot of different parties and specs that need to come together. Going through this, I wondered what cabinet shops do to make the process as efficient and seamless as possible for the consumer. From a consumer’s standpoint, I would likely have appreciated an online solution that would have given me a blueprint of what will happen and in roughly what order.
When will I need to decide on the appliances? When should they be delivered? When do I need to know which tiles? What plumbing fixtures? And on and on and on.
Being a software aficionado, if I had a cabinet shop, I’d likely want some sort of system that would be the hub of information within the cabinet shop as well as between the cabinet shop and the consumer. There’s just too much information and too much risk of miscommunication between parties and the consumer to only have jotted it down on a notepad. It needs to be more structured and more accessible.
The second biggest eye-opening experience was deciphering the hardware.
So many considerations. Choices used to be easy. Undermount or sidemount? Full extension or regular? Forget that. My hardware list contained more than 52 unique skus not counting the handles and lighting. That’s skus for drawers and doors. I can now more fully appreciate the complexity of manufacturing cabinets with these skus. How do you order them? Allocate the stock items? Machine on the CNC for the components? And then how do you do it all over again and again for different configurations and different layouts and hardware? How do you display these in your show rooms? Keep everything up to date?
I can’t imagine operating a cabinet shop without a good method of sorting information, logistics and a solid way of getting things into production. I always wondered how some shops do it, but now even more so.
I’ve never been on this side of the kitchen creation process before. I now have an even better appreciation for technology and software in the woodworking business. I can also see why so many shops are run in chaos and overtime and missed deadlines. It’s natural if tools and processes don’t exist to organize the business. It can’t be easy to get everything all lined up for each job on the first try.
Without technology, it must be nearly impossible unless the volume is quite low. I guess some businesses grow into the chicken and the egg situation. No time to implement a solution because all the time and energy is used to keep afloat and put out fires. I couldn’t do that. I always believe in continuously investing a portion of my time and resources into making our business more efficient and organized. In addition to technology, people play a big role in this as well.
So far no big issues with our project, knock on wood.

Peter Mate is co-owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info, email peterm@planitcanada.ca

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