In the Mind of a Truss Plant Manager

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Huskey Truss Facility

The “Metrics for Managers” session at the 2016 Building Component Manufacturing Conference provided insight to the complex issues plant managers grapple with when organizing people and processes in their facilities. Below are some of the concepts discussed.

 “My primary job is to buy and sell lumber…I just package it funny.” | Simplified, the goal is to input lumber and output a different kind of lumber, one with higher value. The concept reminds us that manufacturing is driven by efficiency and not design.

“Guide your sales force to the things that make you money and away from what loses money.” | An example of this is recognizing good customers. Many customers are unreliable and ultimately cause wasted time for the truss designer. Calling customers frequently to confirm, recognizing signs of an uncommitted customer, and securing a repeat customer base are ways to focus a sales force.

“Everything works great when everything is working.” | This is the idea that, at maximum efficiency, supply equals demand, nothing is stored, and everything is delivered exactly on time. However, this is very rarely the case, and the difficulty balancing supply and demand can result in more than just shortage and surplus. The more time lumber sits in the facility, the more likely it is to change colors, warp or mold. Ideally, the lumber gets used right away to minimize loss. However, if the price of lumber is expected to increase in the future, storage may become more desirable.

“If you don’t need them tomorrow, I won’t build it today.” | The most difficult thing to predict is when a project is going to start, but getting as close as possible is important. The need to use lumber promptly and store as little product as possible prompts manufacturers to wait to produce until right before they can deliver. Lumber warping can occur in as little as 10 days of storage.

Mistakes Cost | The one element manufacturers don’t want to put pressure on is the productivity of truss designers. If a mistake can be traced to the manufacturer it can cost a lot to replace. Truss designers take on the most risk with multi-family housing projects because the demand is for quick production and there is pressure to shorten design time.

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