SFU Carpentry Shop carves away at Delivery time to customers

October 01, 2018

Sitting in a meeting room of the Geology department sits a beautifully refurbished cabinet made of African Red Padauk wood with brand new glass cabinet doors. What would have potentially cost thousands of dollars at a local furniture store was, in fact, made on Burnaby Campus by the Facilities Services’ Carpentry shop.

Working within the Facilities Services building, just south of Applied Sciences, the Carpentry shop provides general carpentry, concrete construction, seismic and furniture installations, cabinetry, millwork and finishing services to the university community.

Over the last year, the department has undergone significant re-tooling and process changes in order to deliver an improved customer service experience.

“Historically, the feedback we’ve received is that we’re not producing fast enough and that we cost too much,” says Jay Haynes, Manager, Civil Trades. “So over the last year, the Carpentry shop has been carving away at these problems with strategic equipment purchases resulting in faster turnaround times and reduced costs for our customers on campus.” Some of those purchases include a high-quality edge bander, a device that produces durable and aesthetically pleasing trimmed edges around plywood corners and edges of cabinets and millwork. What used to take three to four hours by hand can now be done in three to four minutes. The shop also recently purchased a panel saw, a machine similar to a table saw that cuts sheets of plywood in the production of wood furniture such as shelving, cabinets and bookcases. The new panel saw saves time and also provides significant safety enhancements as well as more accurate cuts for proper precision woodwork.

“We know that modernization isn’t just about re-tooling but also improving internal processes,” says Alain Pedneault, Carpenter. “Over the last year or so, with the help of these new machines, we’ve begun re-thinking our approach to work flow to increase efficiencies and reduce waste.” Pedneault says one process improvement is stocking materials that are in demand. “When we get an order for a door, for example, instead of just cutting one door, now we’ll cut five doors and store four of them. When the next orders come, most of the work will already have been done and that saves real time.”

“One of our primary goals is to provide solid customer service for the SFU community,” says Lonnie Oullette, Carpenter. “From installing or replacing windows, doors and bookshelves at no cost to the department, to building furniture such as desks or cabinets, these changes have made us very market competitive. When you factor in support from other business units across Facilities Services, such as the paint shop, electrical or mechanical, we’re hard to beat.”