The need to process both build-to-stock and build-to-order products within the same consolidation center dramatically raises the supply-chain performance threshold, but that's only one of the challenges facing the logistics team at Pella Corp., the nation's leading manufacturer of premium windows and doors.
Add to that mix the natural fragility and other unfriendly shipping characteristics of the product line, a disparate network of modest manufacturing sites, and the notorious unreliability of advance planning in the building trades - there always are revisions - and the complexity reaches daunting proportions. To claim control, Pella turned to the Logistics Execution System (LES) from McHugh Software and an enterprise resource planning system from Oracle. The primary goal is to coordinate the flow of business information across the company in general and to boost productivity in the warehouse environment in particular.
A family-owned business based in Pella, Iowa, about 45 minutes east of Des Moines, Pella commenced operations in 1925 as the Rolscreen Co., with flagship products based on a patented, disappearing window-screen technology. In 1992, with many more product lines on offer, the company changed its name to Pella Corp. Over the past three decades the company has earned a reputation for selling high-end, luxury and custom wood-based doors and windows, with its products often gracing the pages of Architectural Digest and glamorous home-building journals.
Pella offers consumers and professionals a full range of residential and commercial products under three distinct product lines: Architect Series, Designer Series and ProLine.
The Pella sales branch network operates Pella Window Stores, Windowscaping Centers and Selection Centers. Pella Windowscaping and Selection Centers are designed to help homeowners make the most informed window and door decisions as they build or remodel. Offering complete resources and unique design ideas, these centers help guide consumers in selecting the "perfect look" for their homes.
Pella has manufacturing facilities throughout Iowa: Designer Series and Architect Series products are built at its 1.65 million-square-foot plant in Pella; in Carroll, an automated plant manufactures ProLine doors and double-hung windows; a plant in Story City produces ProLine casement windows; a factory in Shenandoah manufactures custom and commercial products; and a manufacturing facility in Sioux Center produces Pella's Architect Series casement windows. Pella's newest facility is a Northeast regional warehouse in Gettysburg, Pa. It will open later this year, to be followed next year by manufacturing operations in Gettysburg.
Pella is an interesting study in contrasts. It is a people-friendly, non-union company that offers fairly generous benefits, bonus plans and attractive, profit sharing opportunities. Listed last year as No. 47 on Fortune Magazine's roster of "Best Companies to Work For," Pella moved to No. 21 for 2001. The company is, in some ways, old-fashioned. Pella accommodated its considerable growth over the past two decades not by dramatically expanding its key facilities but by launching new manufacturing sites in other small Iowa towns, such as Story City, Carroll, Sioux Center and Shenandoah.
"We like to spread the wealth around," explains Jennifer Grove, a Pella spokeswoman. "Sure, we could make a manufacturing plant that has 1,200 employees, but we try to keep it within a magic 350 to 600. Basically we look for two elements: the best opportunity for a quality work force, and a city that will embrace us as a corporate citizen."
Warm and fuzzy though that image might seem, inside the company is all business. Since encountering and subsequently embracing the inclusive, continuous improvement practice of kaizen during a visit to a United Technologies plant in Tennessee in the early 1990s, Pella executives routinely have relied on kaizen sessions to drive improvements throughout the company and its subsidiaries. Nearly a thousand of these sessions - most of them involving a select team focusing on a specific process - have occurred within Pella over the past 24 months.
|Pella embraces a "focused factory" and in-sequence manufacturing strategy where most production lines are self-contained units that make all their own parts for a continuously changing mix of products.|
|"We nearly always ship the order on the scheduled ship date - rarely early, rarely late."|
-Eileen Burns of Pella Corp,
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