Innovative Surfaces – fabricator profile

Innovative Surfaces – fabricator profile

Every project has a bottleneck. That’s the step in the production process which takes more time than any other, and which directly affects when the job will be ready for installation. Todd Akins of Innovative Surfaces in Hastings, MN calls those bottlenecks his constraints.

Innovative Surfaces LogoFor us, on the stone side it is the CNCs. For solid surface it is the sanding process,” explains Akins. “I use Moraware to capture the data, which allows me to schedule my constraints properly. Once I do that, all the other steps in the process fall into place pretty much naturally.

Let’s say, for example, a customer calls and says he wants his granite countertops installed on Friday. “I see that it will take seven hours at my constraint (the CNC),” Akins says.

Then I have to ask myself if I have seven hours between now and Friday. If I can fit those seven hours in there somewhere then, yes, they can have it on Friday. If it can’t, then I ask what can be offloaded from my constraint in order to get it done. Bottom line, if I use up all the time on my constraints, then all of a sudden everybody is waiting for product, they end up working overtime and I haven’t been able to control my costs.

30 Years In Fabrication

Innovative Surfaces fabricates granite, quartz and solid surface for a mix of commercial and residential clients in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The company has been in business over 30 years and in 2013 generated $20 million in revenues. Todd, who serves as production manager, had his 22 year anniversary last November. His father, Bruce, started the company and still serves as president.

According to Akins, constraint management is a much more precise method for putting together the installation schedule, not to mention fine tuning how to price the job in the first place.

Based on historical data we have populated JobTracker with metrics for each step of the production process so that when a quote is generated we know how long it takes to produce the job,” he explains. “I have a basic understanding that if I do a certain edge profile it will take X amount of time to do it. There is a cost associated with that which also tells me how long it will take to go through production.

Maximize Constraints – Streamline The Process

So, as a job goes through the quotation process – and all of the variables, such as color, edge treatment, sink type/placement and overhangs are sorted out – the Moraware program automatically generates a detailed map of the production constraints associated with that project. All of which elevates the process of forecasting when a job will be ready for installation from an educated guess into the realm of pin-point accuracy.

It’s an offshoot of Synchronous Flow,” Akins explains. “We aren’t just looking at the dollars or the amount of square footage to plan our work flow. When the customer finally decides which options they want to go with, Moraware generates the production numbers automatically. We know immediately how much time it will take to get the project through our constraint. When you maximize your constraints you streamline the process.

Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing, layout, and estimating software. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you.

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