NEW TOOL: LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY TO CREATE A DIGITAL SALES AND PRODUCTION SCHEDULING SYSTEM
Today, it takes approximately 14-days for eastern white pine trees to go from standing in the forest to being packaged eastern white pine boards on a truck. About 50% of Hancock Lumber’s markets receive their deliveries within 10-hours of their product being staged at a Hancock mill, and nearly 80% of Hancock’s markets receive their deliveries within 2-days of being picked up. The ultimate goal? Leveraging technology to deliver next-level customer service by shipping every single order on-time and in-full, continue to be an industry-leader in innovation, and strive to deliver more value to employees and customers.
Every manufacturing business understands the importance of lean principles and continuous process improvement. At Hancock Lumber, every member of the team constantly looks for opportunities to improve, and is encouraged to voice those–from the placement of the smallest tool closer to its use point to more complex projects such as installing an artificial intelligence grade scanner to read boards, there are thousands of employee-led innovation examples in action. Over the last 12-months, the Hancock team has been working on a project leveraging technology to create a digital sales and production scheduling system and move from a one-person, manual job to a real-time technology application for all users to access anytime, anywhere.
Hancock Lumber developed the new application in order to give planer mill and moulder production teams, along with our sales office, reliable, instantaneous access to product availability to inform decisions of how to schedule and run the mills and set lead times for customers. By exposing data from core business software, everyone in the operation has visibility to essential information. The new tool answers questions such as, ‘What’s coming out of the kilns so we can prepare our production schedule?’ and ‘What’s ready to ship, on-time and in-full?’. Expanded visibility and access to enhanced data means our entire team can see the schedule, prepare the finished products end of the mill to run efficiently, and know exactly what wood is where. We’ve also experienced better communication across both internal and external customers and improved on-time and in-full experience to get customers what they want, when they want it.
Sawmill Sales VP, Matt Duprey, commented on the new technology app, “This new application has reduced our response time to our customers. The days of a single person managing scheduling and manipulating hundreds of pages of data into an Excel spreadsheet so we could communicate to customers about their order is over. It not only improves our customers’ experience, but also everyone who works in production, scheduling, and sales—it really enhances our entire workflow.”
The new scheduling platform was built entirely in-house, led by Hancock’s IT Manager, Kevin Murphy, using FileMaker Pro. By leveraging technology and the scheduling team’s deep knowledge of the sawmill business, Murphy was able to use the FileMaker platform to extract data from core systems in real-time, quickly enhancing the team’s processes and creating a fully functional app in less than 12 months.
The result is a robust, transparent, modern digital business tool that is completely designed around user input and workflow. Information went from spreadsheets on one person’s desk into the hands of many, moving the company forward through internal innovation.
“Exposing information to all employees is not a new topic at Hancock Lumber,” says COO, Kevin Hynes. “Our entire business model is about transparency, listening to our employees and customers, and taking feedback to improve the business. Our employees—whether in the yard, on the sawmill floor, or in the sales and scheduling team—know best how to improve workflow and make enhancements that will benefit both our employees’ and customers’ lives.”
Today, we have schedulers at each mill who are all connected to the same system and share visibility into all products across all three sawmills. With better communication inside our own walls, we can deliver improved communication to our customers. Eventually, customers will have access to this portal to look at their accounts.
Caption 1: Team Hancock collaborates while reviewing the NEW sales and production scheduling app
Caption 2: Sawmill IT Manager, Kevin Murphy, led the project and created Hancock’s digital sales and production scheduling system
CASCO SAWMILL ADDS AUTO GRADE SCANNER: LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE GRADING ACCURACY
A second project the sawmill division took on this year is the addition of a new auto grade scanner in Casco. A few years ago, Hancock Lumber began to plan for additional upgrades at our sawmill in Casco. The ultimate goal? Simplify the process and become a one-pass manufacturing operation. In order to achieve one-pass, the first step would be to install a new, modernized grade scanner in the front end of the mill where logs are initially processed.
Earlier this summer, this critical step happened, and we successfully installed a modern grade scanner in the sawmill helping improve the grading accuracy to 95%!
Since 1848, Team Hancock has been bringing quality eastern white pine boards to the market. Check out some of our completed Hancock Pine projects we’ve photographed online for your next project inspiration!