Volume 8, Issue 1 - January 2007
RoyalPlast Succeeds in Facing
RoyalPlast Door Systems Co., a division of Royal Group Technologies Ltd. has quite a story. First, in early 2006, it was decided to merge its two patio door divisions (Thermoplast Patio Doors and Royal Patio Doors), to create one patio door division within Royal Group Technologies; thus, RoyalPlast Door Systems Co was born. Then, in October of 2006, Royal Group Technologies Ltd. was purchased by Georgia Gulf Co.
“This recent acquisition will only mean further growth potential and greater opportunities for Royal Group Technologies Ltd. and all of its divisions,” says RoyalPlast president Yvan Houle.
RoyalPlast has two manufacturing plants—one in Woodbridge (the Toronto area), Ontario, and the other one in Laval (Montreal area), Quebec. I toured the Woodbridge plant recently, and found that the real story is in the transformation of the plant production process and what the management team currently is initiating to increase higher efficiencies through the implementation of lean manufacturing principles such as the Kaizen philosophy (see bottom for sidebar).
A Look at the Patio Door Producer
RoyalPlast has nine diverse product offerings including complete PVC systems, vinyl/wood-clad, impact-approved, interior woodgrain laminate and hybrid door systems.
“We are proud to have the largest and most comprehensive product offering on the market,” says Bill Oates,U.S. business development manager.
Fabricators can choose their own door program ranging from a complete knock-down door kit to a fully assembled glazed door unit.
The most popular and requested door product from the Woodbridge plant is the viny/wood-clad door system called the Performer, which, according to operations manager David DeFelice, “is very successful in both new construction and remodeling applications.”
According to Oates, the Woodbridge plant is strategically located in Southern Ontario, which allows the company to reach a large geographic area including many U.S. states.
“Most of the assembled doors go to local window manufacturers,” says DeFelice who adds that customers located further away like Western Canada and the United States will typically purchase their doors as knock down kits (glazed or unglazed) because of shipping logistics.
Made to Order/Lean Manufacturing
“With the increase in dynamic market changes, it is our quest to become more efficient by implementing lean manufacturing practices in order to reduce inventory and reduce costs. As a result, all products will be made to order. Utilizing the Kaizen philosophy, we will become leaner and quicker to better serve the market,” says DeFelice.
And RoyalPlast has the numbers to back it up.
“When we Kaizened the first product line it resulted in a 65-percent floor space reduction and increased productivity in our Serenity 3000 and Series 2000 door departments by decreasing the floor space usage from 9,000 square feet to 3,300 square feet. This change-over has made us become faster, more efficient and utilize [fewer] resources,” he adds.
And this portion of the plant went from six workers to three, while one or two additional employees may be added at times, due to an influx of orders.
This was all achieved through implementation of the Kaizen philosophy that allowed the plant to reduce the number of steps taken in door production.
Now, in this area, on one shift three employees can produce 20 doors, whereas before the transition to lean, it took two to three days.
“Every 20 minutes we complete a finished product,” says DeFelice. “Previously, every day there wasn’t always a result.”
“We never steer away from this one-piece flow,” stresses DeFelice, who adds that the plant employees were key players in the makeover.
“We used all of their ideas,” he says. “It’s not senior management saying, ‘Do this.’ It comes right from the shop floor.”
This door line accounts for the biggest part of the business at the Woodbridge plant, which creates a bit of a challenge.
Evidence of trimming the fat can be seen all through the plant. Once the raw material is ready, machines then cut and punch the profiles one after the other.
“We can fill up tp two boxes in one day,” he says. “Previously, we were lucky if we filled one box.”
The quest toward lean manufacturing is never done. For example, “Some Kaizen’s are showing different kinds of racks are needed,” says DeFelice.
The company’s mandate has always been to ensure that the product quality is constantly maintained at a high level by using innovative technology, implementing various processing controls and conducting random spot checks of finished goods to ensure that procedures and fabrication methods are being performed to the company standards. This can only be accomplished through continuous employee training and involvement, he adds.
To increase its efficiency, all components, including glass and frames, are separated according to orders. When the doors are complete, they are all reviewed one last time.
Some of these products that eventually ship to the customer include RoyalPlast’s new Jazz Impact patio door system that meets all Florida building code requirements.
“Many of our door products meet the DP 50 test requirement to enable fabricators to service markets where this code has become an important requirement especially in coastal areas,” says Oates
He points out that RoyalPlast sells all its products to door and window door fabricators – small or large.
There are many advantages for fabricators to use RoyalPlast products, such as being able to offer Energy Star, NFRC, AAMA and CSA approved patio door products without the costly investment of development, testing and certification, says Oates.
The company faces some great opportunities. While RoyalPlast currently serves door and window fabricators as far South as Florida and as far West as California and Western Canada, Oates says “that the company is focused on gaining increased market share by being closer to our customers”.
“RoyalPlast’s management team shares the vision of the necessary steps to be taken in the future to reach its business goals. Merging two leaders of the industry into one single entity is a great opportunity. RoyalPlast’s management team is totally skilled, motivated and focused on one single goal: to be the best,” says Houle.
Defining Kaizen -