Princecraft boosts productivity with meticulous support from Createch
Princecraft, Canada’s leading aluminum boat company, sought Createch’s expertise to optimize its output capacity. Among other things, the aim was to increase production rates and double plant capacity. Createch’s Performance specialists successfully met the challenge entrusted to them. Find out how they did it!
Princecraft, a 100% Canadian aluminum boat company
Based in Princeville, Quebec, Princecraft is Canada’s only major aluminum boat manufacturer. The company is also present in the American market. Specializing in the manufacturing of aluminum boats, Princecraft offers a range of products including rowboats, pontoons and deck boats. Its flagship product, the Vectra Series Pontoon, has seen strong growth in recent years. From a competitive standpoint, Princecraft’s offer is often compared to that of trailers, cottages and weekend activities.
“Buying a pontoon boat is a family decision these days”, reports Jean-Philippe Martin-Dubois - Customer Experience and Marketing Director.
Princecraft was founded in 1954 by the Baril family, and was acquired by Alcan in 1975, then by Brunswick in 2001. The company employs around 400 people and works with 8 local suppliers in town, as well as another ten or so purely Quebec suppliers. The company has four production plants: a press, a plant for 16-foot boats and below, a plant for 16-foot boats and above, and a plant for pontoon boats.
Despite its acquisition by Brunswick in 2001, Princecraft has retained its family spirit and local identity. Employees have a strong sense of belonging to the company, often passed on from generation to generation.
Princecraft is proud of its reputation for quality and durability in aluminum fishing boats, pontoons and deck boats. The company seeks to optimize its performance with the same number of employees.
“We needed to produce more while retaining the same qualified workforce, as the latter is relatively scarce”, explains Rodier Grondin, Chairman
The need to meet strong market demand
With the outbreak of COVID 19 in 2020, people were unable to leave the country, so they began to look for local activities that would enable them to escape. As a result, during the lockdown, interest in our plant’s pontoons increased significantly, as did the number of visits to the company’s website. The demand for pontoons was very strong, since in parallel with this need to escape the interest rate was very low.
“The demand was such that some dealers reported to us that they ended up with people wishing to invest in pontoons in front of their premises”, said with enthusiasm Jean-Philippe Martin-Dubois.
This situation has prompted the company to rethink its approach in order to increase its capacity to serve this growing customer base.
Princecraft therefore undertook the search for external experts capable of assisting it in achieving its objectives, which were as follows:
- Targeting issues, providing structure and implementing methods capable of boosting productivity
- Putting in place a quality structure
- Identifying bottlenecks
- Identifying ways to increase productivity and production rate
- Doubling the capacity of the pontoon plant, identifying which tasks could be taken over by robots and automating certain repetitive tasks that don’t appeal to the younger generation.
The ultimate goal was to increase productivity by 5% while maintaining impeccable product quality.
Why Princecraft chose Createch
There are many reasons why Princecraft sought our support. In fact, between 2018 and 2020, Princecraft worked with several companies that couldn’t meet their expectations. The company was looking for a partner who could help them improve their tube manufacturing line, given the welding labor shortage it was facing. In addition, Princecraft was looking for a company with a partner in automation, which was our case with Automatech.
What’s more, Princecraft has noticed the rigorous execution of our assignments, and the competence of our team of experienced experts. In addition, our good understanding of the realities of the field and the company’s specific needs reassured them that the objectives set at the outset would be met. Moreover, we always ensured that each project was delivered on time and to their exact requirements.
Tailored, operational solutions
After diagnosing and identifying the company’s various problems, our team of specialists put in place appropriate solutions to achieve all the objectives set.
The first action we took was to set up a DMS to optimize day-to-day management processes. Although deployment of the DMS was met with some resistance, since it was somewhat restrictive, the structured working environment offered by the solution and the support provided by the Createch team reassured the Princecraft teams.
We then proceeded to develop strategies in partnership with Automatech: operational strategy for the robotization of welding with the realization of the first robot. In addition to this, we have set up short-term actions to increase our production capacity.
Moreover, automating certain tasks will create new jobs to manage the robots, while attracting a younger workforce. Robots are expected to replace certain jobs held by people (in place for more than 25 years) who are on the verge of retirement and of no interest to the new generation.
“The parts for the first robot are now being put in place, and this is already the start of one of our major projects”, explains Jean-Philippe Martin-Dubois.
The integration of the chosen solutions was achieved by providing a clear roadmap and a collaborative process for exchanging ideas and guidance. This has enabled us to implement a new, optimized way of working in a pleasant, collaborative working environment.
Since our intervention and the effective implementation of our various solutions, Princecraft has continued to benefit from positive results:
- Better schedule forecasting
- Improved productivity: increase by around ten pontoons per week
- Productive capacity gains going from 50% to 65%
- Hotspot regularization
- Best operating method that has had an impact on employees, their integration, the way they work and collaborate.
Other positive points of our intervention were that the use of the DMS facilitated exchanges with team leaders and limited line stoppages. It also enabled Princecraft to analyze whether tasks were being completed on time, gain better visibility and set new goals for the company.
Thanks to our support, Princecraft is thinking about applying the same management tools and new way of working to other products, and is in the process of determining the next mandates with Createch.
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