Adding Value to the RTA Furniture Industry Through Improved Products and Processes
RTA furniture has a lot to recommend it, but it suffers from having a reputation for being difficult and time consuming to assemble, which undoubtedly holds back sales. At Titus, we are always looking for solutions that improve our customers’ competitiveness and enhance the user experience of furniture assembly.
CCIS (Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia) Awards for the best innovations at national level represent the highest national recognition of innovative achievements and thus promote innovation in Slovenia and abroad. Every year, in cooperation with regional chambers, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia announces a competition for top innovations by Slovenian companies and rewards only the best. In 2019, the first, golden award was given to the Titus Group for their innovative product and process. What is Titus innovation about?
The Titus innovation is intended for use in a large segment of the furniture industry – RTA (Ready to Assemble). This is a furniture industry that provides packaged pre-prepared furniture panels equipped with all furniture fittings (included in the bag) and installation instructions. The end user assembles RTA furniture at home. The furniture industry in the RTA category has been facing three major challenges over the past ten years: lack of wood mass, simplicity or guaranteeing user assembly friendliness, and flexibility of production processes. The lack of wood mass is becoming an increasing problem with the growth of the population (market growth). Traditional materials used by the industry such as MFC chipboard, MDF and solid wood will be adjusted in the future. The recycled chipboard is already of great importance for the furniture industry. The result of the recycled chipboard is the quality of the MFC panels themselves. Metal and plastic inserts, poorly prepared chipboard structure (larger particles) and reduced use of adhesives cause a significant reduction in the load capacity of such panels. In addition to the challenges mentioned above, the density of the furniture panels decreases.
Usually, connection fittings in such panels do not allow the expected load capacity. Innovative expansion dowel with metal expansion sleeves in new materials is adapted and allows comparable load capacities with dowel connections. Easy furniture assembly is an important aspect for the end user of the furniture. An easy and quick assembly significantly improves the user experience in furniture assembly and thus the satisfaction of the end user. In the Internet age, this aspect is becoming extremely important for RTA furniture manufacturers. End users of furniture can make a review of product satisfaction on the manufacturer’s website. Poor reviews have, of course, a negative impact on the decision of potential customers. This means that increasing ease of assembly is a key ambition for virtually every furniture manufacturer. But what’s the best way to transform this admirable ambition into reality?
Titus Steel Quickfit expansion dowel brings two key novelties to the field of user-friendliness and quick assembly. First, the number of assembly operations is reduced from a few dozen (classic expansion dowels) to only 3 to 4 operations. Secondly, with its design and expansion technology, the dowel allows the installation into the furniture panels already in the furniture factory. Titus offers a complete solution in the form of a prefabricated FastFit insertion machine for Quickfit TL5. The final customer receives furniture panels with built-in fittings, which significantly reduces the time of furniture assembly. High productivity in the RTA furniture industry brings limited flexibility in manufacturing processes. Any replacement or modification of the type of drilling of furniture panels means a serious barrier for the industry, which in most cases is not acceptable. Using Steel Quickfit expansion dowels does not require drilling changes. The product is useful in panels designed for use with conventional expansion dowels with thread.
The RTA furniture industry faces the challenges of increasing competitiveness. One way to increase competitiveness is to offer additional functionality. The most important of these is a simpler and faster assembly. To achieve this, the RTA furniture industry uses the most advanced connections and other fittings and pre-prepared furniture panels. The latter allow very fast assembly of elements, significantly reduced possibility of errors and complaints, reduce the assembly time and increase satisfaction as well increase the chance of a positive online review. Pre-prepared panels have an exceptional competitive advantage that, despite the high cost of labour force in the EU and America, forces manufacturers of RTA furniture to pre-prepare panels by hand.
Most often, 3-5 workers per shift are needed to pre-prepare one panel, which means production of 1100 panels/shift. Each cabinet has two panels with inserted fittings. Such organized production can produce up to 400,000 cabinets per year. With the use of Titus FastFit insertion machine for Quickfit TL5, the capacity rises up to 1,200,000 cabinets.
What Is Titus Innovation About?
The first innovation concerns the much improved product characteristics and performance. The high-performance Quickfit TL5 ‘Full Metal Jacket’ has exceptional pull-out load capacity and provides optimum strength and performance in MDF, chipboards and solid wood – even without using wooden dowels. Its expanded steel body ensures reliable span in holes for 5 mm dowels, which makes it possible to use Quickfit expansion dowel inserting technology without tools (screwing) in a wide range of applications. Its structure allows high tolerance to drilling errors ±1mm from the centre to the hole, which still provides for the establishment of a reliable and high load capacity connection. The Titus Quickfit TL expansion dowel family allows for manual insertion into the furniture panel, which provides for a unique solution for intuitive and quick assembly of the cabinet right at home. For maximum efficiency, it is possible to automate the process of insertion of connecting eccentric cams and expansion dowels TL using its own FastFit insertion machine for Quickfit TL5.
The second innovation is about improved process. The advantage of the FastFit machine for automatic inserting of expansion dowels, connecting eccentric cams and wooden dowels into furniture panels is in the extremely short inserting time of these semi-finished products into the chipboard panel, the quality of the finished product and, consequently, the reduced working force. The insertion time of the semi-finished products is thus approximately 3 seconds for smaller panels and up to 7 seconds for larger multi-inserting panels. The final time of panel assembly is reduced by approx. 85%.
Titus was able to achieve thousands of satisfied customers since the implementation of the solution into their processes lowering the manufacturing costs, time and customers’ claims resulting into improved quality of life for many people.