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MASS-PRODUCING PERFECTION Kent Moore Cabinets, Ltd.

How does a company manufacture up to 1,000 custom-made cabinets a day?

With hard-work, cutting-edge technology, and hundreds of thousands of barcodes.
By Kenneth W. Smith Jr.

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Stepping onto the production floor at Kent Moore Cabinets, Ltd.’s Fountain Avenue facility
in Bryan, the first thing that you notice is the sound. The hum and whine of machinery is
everywhere. Immediately you understand that this is not your father’s woodworking shop
in the garage. This is a 24-7 operation that is capable of producing as many as 1,000 custom-
made cabinets in a day.

 

Thousands of pieces of wood lie stacked in piles small and large. Some are plain, large
boards. Some are ornately carved custom crown molding pieces. But they all have one thing in
common. They all have a barcode.

Kent Moore is a “pioneer of mass customization in the custom cabinet industry,” said Teresa
Galliher, Vice President of Marketing. “The barcodes on the pieces are scanned at different
stations, so we know when a piece has passed through each checkpoint.”

That seems like a necessity in this environment because when they say “mass,” they mean
it. Walking through the 160,000 square-foot facility, it seems the different production
stations go on forever. And this is only one of two production facilities in Bryan.
Kent Moore Cabinets uses 2.3 million board-feet of lumber per year. That’s a lot of wood.
Turning all of that lumber into custom cabinets requires workers and technology. The company
employs more than 515 people in a variety of roles, and their newest robotic equipment helps
make the jobs of many of those workers easier.

“The biggest improvement is the way the routers and the intellistore work together,” Galliher said.
Okay, so what are “routers” and the “intellistore”? Routers are large computer numeric controlled
machines with conveyor-belts that seem to do it all when cutting and turning large sheets of material into
parts for a custom cabinet job. And the intellistore? Well, that’s just plain cool.

The intellistore has a robotic arm that hangs high in the air, attached to multidirectional tracks, hovering
over more than two dozen stacks of fibreboard and other wood materials. The intellistore is programmed
to know exactly which type of board is supposed to go into any given router’s process at any given time.
So, when one of the routers is ready for a new piece of material, the intellistore slides to a position above
the appropriate material stack, drops down, and with four large suction cups, lifts the next sheet of board
into the air. It then glides over to the appropriate router and places the board on the conveyor belt to
begin processing.

“Before we bought these new routers, every router was hand loaded. Meaning our operators had to
manually load 5-by-10 sheets of HDF (high-density fibreboard) and other sheet goods all day long.
Fatigue and time in between cutting cycles were a big issue,” according to Executive Vice President
Kenny Bolline. “With the new system, the intellistore is doing all the heavy lifting, and the only thing our
operators have to do is unload cut parts. Now, there is about a minute of downtime between cycles, and
our operators are not subject to injury and fatigue like before. Now we are able to cut more sheets faster
and our operators are happier!”

Efficiency permeates other areas of the facility as well. Energy-efficient LED lighting was installed at all
of Kent Moore’s facilities over the past few years in partnership with BTU’s SmartBUSINESS program. The
new lighting provides employees with a better view of the work they’re doing, saves the company money
on electric bills, and helps reduce overall demand on BTU for electricity.

Aligned with that efficiency is a commitment to quality and a culture of teamwork. Every piece
of cabinetry produced by Kent Moore Cabinets is thoroughly inspected at critical control points to make
sure that the finished product is defect-free. Striving for perfection requires attention to detail throughout
the production process.

There is an acronym used at Kent Moore: R.I.P.I.T. It stands for: Receive, Inspect, Process, Inspect, Transfer.
This is a mantra for workers on the production lines. Receive your part, inspect it, perform your work,
inspect it again, and then transfer it to the next station.

All around the employee break room, you see similar slogans and statements of the company’s mission:
“Customer satisfaction is what you make it, at KMC we make it our business.” “The ten keys to success in
business today are: 1. Quality, 2. Service ... the other eight don’t matter.” It is a vision that is shared and
embraced by employees.

“I love working at Kent Moore Cabinets,” said Mike Joiner, HR/Safety Director. “Because they challenge
me to be better every day.”

MASS-PRODUCING PERFECTION Kent Moore Cabinets, Ltd.
By Kenneth W. Smith Jr.

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