San Lim Furniture is constantly in search for innovative ways to improve their production line. Their search ended with WEINIG, which provided the furniture manufacturer tremendous benefits: improved efficiency, cost reduction and impeccable service.
Antonius Sulimro, deputy general director of San Lim Furniture, and Tony Sulimro, president of San Lim Furniture
The relationship between WEINIG and San Lim Furniture traces back to more than two decades ago when San Lim purchased their first WEINIG machine for their factory in Indonesia.
But it wasn’t until two years ago when Tony Sulimro, president of San Lim Furniture, and Antonius, his son and deputy general director, started investing more in their machinery, becoming one of WEINIG’s biggest customers.
For San Lim Furniture, the choice was not a hard one to make. “For the people in the furniture industry, if you’re looking for good machines in the solid wood area, WEINIG would be the one. This is no secret,” Antonius said.
Decisions, decisions, decisions
San Lim Furniture was established 15 years ago in 2003. The company is based in Vietnam and does mostly panels such as veneer, plywood or MDF for its furniture; using materials such as poplar from the U.S., rubberwood from Vietnam, and pine from New Zealand or Chile.
“Our export market in the past was 100 per cent to the U.S.. But right now, it’s about 95 per cent to the U.S., and about five per cent to China,” Antonius said. Some of San Lim Furniture’s clients are well-known brands such as Ashley, Rooms to Go, WSI, American Drew, Holland House, Klaussner and Haverty’s.
As of March 2017, the company ships an average of 600 containers per month and is still dedicated to continuous improvement.
“This is not by luck because we make sure we keep our quality good,” said Antonius.
With a score card now given to most manufacturers in grades of A, B, C and D, San Lim sees it as a benefit for them as it reflects how the company is doing.
For instance, business owners and top management are able to look at the score cards and place orders with companies who are scoring well.
“It takes time and it’s about consistency,” said Anotnius.
About five years ago, a customer initially gave them a D, but over the years, San Lim Furniture has worked hard to overturn the score. “And within that period of time, we improved ourselves and actually became an A-grade vendor,” Antonius explained.
The result also reflects the different demands of customers and the trend in the industry such as fast turnaround time with better quality.
“Customers are paying more attention to quality as well as punctuality in shipping,” said Antonius. “There is also a trend now where customers are requesting for lesser MOQ (minimum order quantity),” he added.
For instance, “In the past, when we said MOQ is 100 pieces, they’ll agree. But now, we have customers requesting for 50 pieces or fewer,” said Antonius. “If we do not use the CNC machine, we’ll have to use the jig all the time, which will result in a longer downtime.”
The increase in workers’ salary each year is also another challenge that San Lim Furniture is facing. With higher costs and the need for faster turnaround and punctual shipments, the furniture manufacturer needed to look into a long-term solution to address these challenges.
“WEINIG is a good brand. There are a lot of similar machines that are 50 per cent cheaper but because we are focusing on quality, we believe the investment in WEINIG machines will help us achieve that,” Antonius explained.
“We used WEINIG machines 25 years ago for our factory in Indonesia. Those were the simple ones then. For the current advanced machines, we bought it two years ago and have since started buying more,” Sulimro said.
San Lim Furniture attended WEINIG tour for the first time at the Ligna show about two years. During the tour, the team was taken to factories in Tauberbischofsheim (TBB), Germany, where they were offered a behind-the-scenes look of the production lines in factories that were using WEINIG machines.
Demonstrations were run to showcase clear advantages and the potential of the machines while providing a platform for everyone to exchanges ideas.
“Before the show, they were already explaining to us how we can link the different machines up together and when we saw it for ourselves, we said ‘Yes, this is definitely what we need’ and bought it,” said Antonius.
The team has since been on two tours and each time it further affirms their beliefs in WEINIG.
With customers’ demands becoming more complicated and stricter, the need to digitalise has increased.
“With manual machines, it can take about a year before a person is trained to be good in handling a specific machine. But with WEINIG CNC machines, you can just place a panel and press the ‘Start’ and ‘Stop’ buttons. That’s all. It doesn’t take much effort.”
Going the extra mile
The recognition and commitment WEINIG has to San Lim Furniture and all its customers is reflected in its after-sales service.
Based in Dong Nai province in Vietnam, San Lim Furniture is generally located far from the city, offices and help. But the company is still able to acquire help from WEINIG’s engineers to train staff on the ins and outs of their machines and to equip them with necessary skills.
In fact, engineers from Germany were flown over before too to provide assistance.
The furniture manufacturing company is in constant contact with WEINIG – from installation to maintenance to advising on the production flow – such that it is always equipped with valuable practical knowledge for seamless production that helps reduce costs.
For instance, after the wood has been cut into smaller pieces, the WEINIG Powermat can be used to smooth the sides before placing in the finger joints.
“This is what WEINIG taught us on how the flow needs to be. And so, we always coordinate with them,” Antonius explained.
Another example is the Rondamat tool grinding machine. By connecting it to the Powermat, it will assist in adjusting the position of the tool. After grinding, the tool becomes shorter, which the computer will then send the data to the Powermat to adjust the height; since it’s shorter, the height needs to be lowered to produce the same product.
“We do not need to do a lot of trial and error anymore as the computer does everything. We saw how this process was done at LIGNA and so we bought the whole package,” said Antonius.
As San Lim Furniture continues to hit their milestones, WEINIG will be steadfast by their side – challenging themselves to help San Lim Furniture to be even more efficient and productive.
“We have a good relationship with WEINIG and they are one of our most trusted partners,” said Tony.
Be it solid wood or panel processing, the leading provider of solid-wood processing machinery is there to ensure that San Lim Furniture is able to fully exploit their machines’ power and operate them to perfection.
This article was first published in Panels & Furniture Asia [Jan/Feb Issue].