Crystal Achievement Awards 2016: Celebrating Innovation
MOST INNOVATIVE: Manufacturing Process
|ProVia's Smart Conveyor System is currently doubling capacity. It utilizes RFID technology to automatically shuttle doors to different assembly stations via an overhead track conveyor. (Images courtesy of ProVia.)|
Since the Great Recession, businesses across every industry had to look at ways to make more with less—capital and capacity were reduced and there were fewer employees on the line. To compound the issue, homeowners had high expectations but low income to pay for the quality they demanded. At the same time, there was a cultural shift where the masses were aware and vigilant about sustainable and responsible business practices. Across the board, the focus shifted from enormity and excess to conservation, necessity and thrift.
This consolidation created a new age of efficient production, where manufacturers started looking back to principles such as Lean Manufacturing and looking forward to reduce their impact on the environment. No matter the impetus and even as the market rebound transforms to true health and stability, this trend will stick.
Thus, Window & Door wanted to recognize manufacturers for their efforts in this area. We asked our judges to award the Crystal Achievement Award for Most Innovative Manufacturing Process to a company that is taking a unique approach that increases efficiency, decreases waste, improves quality, and applies advanced technologies/methodologies. Their unanimous decision was to recognize ProVia Products for their efforts. “[ProVia’s] expansion project highlights both a financial commitment and significant dedication to improving manufacturing throughput,” one of them noted.
ProVia’s new Smart Conveyor System is being used to manufacture all its entry doors, which has doubled throughput of the products. The system represents the third and final phase of a facility expansion project that began in 2013.
The Smart Conveyor utilizes a radio-frequency identification chip placed on each door carrier. The system identifies that door and automatically shuttles it via an overhead track conveyor system to each assembly station the particular door requires, until all operations are complete, ProVia explains. “While this system is currently doubling manufacturing throughput, it has the capacity to go well beyond this as future sales increase,” the company reports.
One of the judges sees the potential for this type of system to become widely adopted: “The automated robotic nature of moving doors under assembly from workstation to workstation and tracking them with RFID chips is a process that all manufacturers may ultimately be adopting not only for doors but for other fenestration products. The efficiency of the operation, reduction in product damage and manpower savings in the long run should be substantial.”
The Smart Conveyor System also facilitates quality control by minimizing human handling of doors, which holds the potential for accidents like scratches and denting. The system also provides ergonomic advantages for ProVia employees who no longer have to lift and transport doors manually.
ProVia’s goal with the Smart Conveyor System, the company tells us, was to fulfill its commitment of fast delivery times of built-to-order doors, and support the company’s ongoing sales growth now and into the future.
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