L & Jg Stickley Furniture Case Study
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L. & J.G. Stickley was founded in 1900 by brother Leopold and George Stickley. Over the years, the company experienced both good and bad times, and at one point, it employed over 200 people. Located just outside of Syracuse, New York, the company is a producer of fine cherry, white oak and mahogany furniture. Stickley had five retail showrooms in New York State, two in Connecticut, one in North Carolina, and its furniture is sold nationally by some 120 dealers.
This company contains over 1,350 employees with the ability to compete in flexibility. It understands the fluctuating market and has incorporated two production process methods to meet its market needs entirely. L. & J.G. Stickley Furniture has efficiently combined two production processing methods; batch and continuous production process to effectively meet its customers demands. The company boasts of high market after the concentration of its market to focus on oak furniture, which has made it earn so many customers. This is associated with the experience that the company has gained over the years from its inception by Leopold and George Stickley. When the company was about to close in 1970, but regained in 1974 under the same leadership but different owner the company had studied the market and knew exactly to meet the demand of its customers.
L. & J.G. Stickley Furniture uses continuous production process to produce a large number of furniture. This is because of the continuous flow of process from one step to the other without disconnection. When boards are received from the lumber mills, they are immediately inspected to check for knots and other defects before it is passed through the computer controlled optimizer saw, which cuts the boards into smaller pieces. As the lumber is released in pieces from the computer, the workers glue the pieces together which will be used towards the end of the as tops for desks or tables. It is then passed through the pressers which compacts the glued pieces into a solid and strong board. After being prepared, the ending step is sanding, which focuses on smoothening the board by removing excess glue on the board. Some of the pieces may require drilling or mortising, an operation in which rectangular holes and other shapes are cut into the wood (Stevenson, 2012, p. 550).
The stages above are preparation processes which they are joined to produce a finished product. The process involves both the skilled and unskilled workers. The unskilled workers handle the inspection of knots, gluing the pieces and sanding. The skilled workers handle the computerized saw, the curving and drilling of the holes which forms the basis of the design shapes and marketing of the product. The variable cost of electricity which is very low, at $60,000 per month, considering their productivity that twenty thousand boards are cut each day is a characteristic of the continuous production process. The process is flexible because not all the boards are fixed into completed furniture; some boards are left to cater for customer preferences, repairs and suddenly demands that may arise.
The batch method is the strongest candidate here. Batch processing can save time and energy by automating repetitive tasks. While it may take awhile to write the script or record the repetitive actions, doing it once is certainly better than having to do it many times. In the production process we saw that goods are produced in several different “batches” along the way, from cutting, to some pre-planned parts and pieces. There are two proliferate seasons in a year, and the other two season are low market. Therefore, during the second and fourth quarters, when demand is low there is a number of productions for furniture which is stored into the inventory. This batch, the number furniture goes into inventory and during the highest demand in the season, the first and third quarter; the produced batch is released into the market to meet customers high demand. Also, to a lesser extent, we see that there is some Repetitive type work done as well to stock the white inventory and also to make sure that there is a level supply of furniture over time to meet seasonal demand. Repetitive processing does require planning, and as we can see from the case, the scheduling managers schedule for 8-10 weeks in advance.
Management keeps track of job statues and location during production by implementing job sequence. Job sequence is determined by the amount of remaining inventory (days supply on hand), and processing time. There are many jobs being done concurrently. Each job is accompanied by a set of bar codes that identify the job and the operation. As each operation is completed, the operator removes a bar code sticker and delivers it to the scheduling office where it is scanned into the computer, thereby enabling production control to keep track of progress on the job and to know where the product is located in the shop (Stevenson, 2012, p. 552).
Whenever furniture is removed, it is passed through the computer barcode reader which will read the furniture and record that it is no longer in the shop, thereby deleting it from the list of inventories. When nearing peak period management uses the computer records to asses and determines the type of furniture available, and what amount will be needed for each type, to add to the inventory already in the stock. This allows the manager to effectively meet the expected demand. The continuous production process will facilitate the batch within this period, thereafter, the season will go down and production will drop to near zero.
On receipt of an order for 40 mission oaks dining room sets, L. & J.G. Stickley Furniture under the Operations manager will need