Mixing It Up
Increased Efficiency with Bundle Mixing

When most people hear of somebody “mixing it up” they think of somebody breaking the norm, or stepping outside their “safe zone”.  Today, when talking about mixing it up I am referring to the concept of Bundle Mixing.  If you build both sheathed and unsheathed walls then using ShopNet, MiTek’s wall panel production software, you can actually “weave” bundles together to gain production efficiency on the shop floor.

We all know how much effort is required to put sheathing on wall panels.  In every plant across the country that does it, it is always the bottle neck.  Some plants (especially in the West) do not have to deal with sheathing.  So if that is the case, you can skip to the next article.  But for the majority who do have to sheath walls, bundle mixing is worth considering. 

With bundle mixing the Production Manager chooses a ratio at which he would like to mix walls.  For example, 2 sheathed walls for every 3 unsheathed walls.  The system then mixes or “weaves” the walls of the chosen bundles together into a sequential list.  The sequential list is presented to the station operators as the production order instead of the normal layer order of the individual bundles.

As the sheathed walls get bottled up at the sheathing station, the framing operators are free to build the unsheathed walls in the sequential list.  In the diagram below of a typical Bundle Mixing scenario, you can see how the unsheathed walls are ejected to the side of the line just after the framing station.  The sheathed walls continue on down the line to be sheathed and nailed.  By ejecting the unsheathed walls to the side, both the opening and framing operators continue to stay productive even though things have slowed down at the sheathing station.  Once the previous sheathed walls have cleared the sheathing station, the framers will be ready to send more sheathed walls down the line.  Depending on your operation and product mix you may even see productivity gains at your subcomponent and cutting stations as well.
Activating Bundle Mixing in ShopNet is simply a flip of the switch.  You even have the capability to Bundle Mix at one station while processing by individual bundle or job at another station.  When it comes time to set the mix ratio the Production Manager simply groups the bundles in the Manager Console and sets the production order.  Then through a menu selection he can access the “Mixing By Job” form as shown below where he can set the ratio that he wants the bundles mixed at, number of sheathed panels to number of unsheathed panels.
For the personnel on the floor nothing really changes as far as interactions with the computer.  The software presents them with one extra column (see below) to show which panels belong to which bundles so that they can get properly routed.  Other than that the computer interaction is the same for the user as it was without bundle mixing.  The system automatically handles the ordering of all the pieces and parts back through the opening, subcomponent, and plate stations.  It’s as simple as that to gain productivity.

If you are a current MiTek ShopNet user, then the switch to bundle mixing may allow you to squeeze a little more profit out of every job without having to change too much on your plant floor.  If you are new to ShopNet, give us a call.  We would love the opportunity to show you how our production software can help your company be more organized, more informed and more profitable with or without Bundle Mixing.


 This page last modified on 11/30/2009