Engineering Safety

Wellborn Case Study

11Wellborn Cabinets is a family owned business that was founded in 1961. The company’s headquarters and largest factory are located in Ashland, AL and occupy over two million square feet, building about 5,000 cabinets a day. Wellborn primarily supplies builders and dealers who work with customers to design kitchens and dressing and entertainment suites, with a typical order of 20 cabinets containing 15,000 pieces and costing about $15,000. Wellborn began to use Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems about 10 years ago to manage its business.

Wellborn Cabinets adopted a system called Symix, a full ERP system, in 1998. Although Symix had a complete set of modules, all of which were used across all of the company’s departments, each plant used its own database so two plants that were close together were not linked on the financial end. As a result, spreadsheets were used to merge data and engineers had to maintain 580,000 discreet bills of material. Shopfloor workers knew the bills of material were not accurate and paid little attention to them, instead building the cabinets using “tribal knowledge”, which led to frequent returns and many defects. Marketing, engineering, and training issues were also not addressed adequately.

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