Volume 8, Issue 1 - January 2007

RoyalPlast Succeeds in Facing
Royal Challenge—The Quest to Be Lean 
by Tara Taffera

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
Both patio door operations were founded in the early 1990s. The company’s initial mission and philosophy was to supply patio door products to door and window manufacturers, which still remains today. Together, both plants produce in excess of 100,000 doors annually.

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
While customized products are increasingly more popular and becoming a necessity in the fenestration market, RoyalPlast has adopted the same ideology and manufacturing process where the company produces made-to-order products of various sizes, colors, configurations, glass options and hardware options.

“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.”
Additionally, the company now utilizes a one-piece flow, which is integral to the plant’s efficiency.

“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.”
But RoyalPlast’s quest toward lean is far from over. For example, the section of the plant that produces its Performer Series currently is preparing for implementation of Kaizen.

 This door line accounts for the biggest part of the business at the Woodbridge plant, which creates a bit of a challenge.
“We can’t stop everything when this is the biggest part of our business,” says DeFelice.

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 roll and press area is the next station that will implement Kaizen.

The quest toward lean manufacturing is never done. For example, “Some Kaizen’s are showing different kinds of racks are needed,” says DeFelice.

Even if it is not implementing a specific lean manufacturing or Kaizen principle, the company is always focused on quality.
In fact, in the last few months, it has implemented the Management by Objectives (MBO) program, which measures objectives versus achievements/results for all aspects of our company,” says Houle. “The MBO program encourages good practices and focuses on positive results.”

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. 
“Fabricators have been utilizing RoyalPlast Door Systems to offer a wide range of patio door products to their customer base without the investment of space, inventory and people that would be required to produce many different styles and types of patio door lines,” he adds.

Changes Ahead
Improving the service level of satisfying the customer needs has become a top priority to RoyalPlast, according to Houle.
“By virtue of combining both management teams into one, we are focused as an organization to continue to be a number one patio door supplier in North America,” he says. “The focus is to continue to do our internal due diligence to service our clients and supply the industry with simply the best patio door products available.”

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 - 
Search the Internet or bookstore and you’ll find a wealth of information on Kaizen. Following is one definition from www.beyondlean.com: The systematic, organized improvement of processes by those who operate them, using straightforward methods of analysis. Kaizen establishes what needs to be done and instills the principles of continuous improvement. The philosophy of continual improvement, that every process can and should be continually evaluated and improved in terms of time required, resources used, resultant quality and other aspects relevant to the process. When applied to the workplace, Kaizen means continuing improvement involving everyone—managers and workers alike. 
The 5 Ss 
Part of the Kaizen philosophy includes the 5 Ss (implemented at RoyalPlast):
1. Sort;
2. Set an order (know it’s always there);
3. Sustain (keep up to date);
4. Standardize; and
5. Shine (keep plant clean).

the author
Tara Taffera is the editor/publisher of DWM magazine. 


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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.