Inside Buyers Products

July 17, 2018 -  By
Buyers Products distribution center

Order something from Buyers Products? This is where it gets packaged up for delivery. Hey Indiana Jones, I think this is where the Ark ended up. (Photo: LM staff)

While some of the big names in the snow industry were setting up displays for the 2018 Snow & Ice Symposium, Buyers Products Co., a manufacturer located in Mentor, Ohio, opened its doors for a facility tour.

Established in 1946, Buyers Products has evolved from a distributor of truck and trailer components into a fully-integrated manufacturer specializing in durable truck boxes, heavy duty towing equipment, hydraulics, controls and all-season trailer accessories. Some might be more familiar with the Buyers line of snow and ice equipment—which includes SnowDogg snow plows, SaltDogg spreaders and ScoopDogg snow pushers.

The main takeaway from the facility tour, aside from the fact that the complex is a massive, 800,000 square feet, was the fact that the team at Buyers takes efficiency seriously.

Here’s a look at some interesting facets of the operation.

beat the robot banner

“Beat the Robot” banners can be found throughout the Buyers Products manufacturing facilities. (Photo: LM staff)

Man vs. machine

Practically everything happens in-house—robotic welding, laser cutting, stamping, fabrication, roll-forming, powder-coating, CNC machining, assembly and shipping.

Needless to say, there is a lot happening at these facilities. But it’s organized. Manufacturing Manager Herb Searson sees to it.

With a strong background in quality, process control and a healthy amount of competitive spirit, Searson has been all about being more efficient since joining the Buyers Products team two and a half years ago.

“I like to stand back with eyes wide open,” says Searson. “I’m looking for inefficiencies. Did that motion add value? Did you add value with those three steps? Could you have? Multiply that by hundreds of parts and hundreds of days and it all adds up.”

Case and point, Searson created a program to help improve overall efficiency, by both humans and machines, called “Beat the Robot.”

The premise is simple: Get the parts queued up and ready to go for the robot before it is finished with the previous item. When the crew members get the parts quickly to the robot, while also reducing the amount of steps taken to do so, the initiative essentially reduces, if not eliminates, robotic down time.

“If the robot never stops, that is ultimate efficiency,” says Searson.

So easy, but effective.

This methodical approach benefits the customer directly in the form of pricing. Cutting down on downtime results in the company’s ability to maintain, and in some cases even reduce, prices, Searson added. This effort gives Buyers a competitive advantage.

Reducing waste

Laser-cut material

Sheets of material are cut using lasers to ensure that Buyers is getting the absolute most out of each. (Photo: LM staff)

The team has put a lot of effort into finding ways to be the most efficient on the shop floor—getting the most from not only the machines and robots but the materials as well.

Pallets are useful for transporting products around, but after that, they don’t serve much of a purpose. The folks at Buyers Products have found a way to change that.

Once finished with the pallets, the crew tears them apart, mulches them down and adds dye to create the mulch used throughout the complex’s grounds.

That’s not the only leftover material being put back to good use.

Buyers employees use lasers to precisely cut materials for the day’s run, reducing inventory and getting the absolute most from the sheets of material. What they do have leftover in scrap, they send to a local trade school to give students hands-on practice with welding.

Speedy delivery

SaltDogg spreaders ready to be shipped

SaltDogg spreaders waiting to be shipped. (Photo: LM staff)

Another point of pride for the company is its quick delivery of products.

Thanks in part to having multiple stages of production in-house, the inventory of products is impressive. Pair that with a 300,000-square-foot distribution center with some of the latest technology, and the team typically has orders out for delivery within 24 hours of receipt.

Here are some stats from the tour:

  • More than 70 percent of orders are shipped out within the same day.
  • Roughly 97 percent are out within 24 hours of order.
  • If an order comes in before 5 p.m. Eastern—with three line items or less—the team will ship it that night. This move is a nice change for West Coast dealers from when they used to cut off the day’s orders at 2 p.m. Eastern/ 11 a.m. Pacific.

Photos: LM staff

About the Author:

Kelly Limpert is a graduate of Ohio University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Strategic Communication from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Her background in online journalism and advertising aids LM in developing a strong online presence.

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