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The Future of the Kitchen Cabinet Industry

The CKCA Directory

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The Future of the Kitchen Cabinet Industry

The Future of the Kitchen Cabinet Industry

Presented: October 1, 2022

CKCA National Forum, Waterloo, Ontario


Luke Elias, Muskoka Cabinet Company

Tommy Gagnon, Automa Tech Robotik

Jason Varelli, Biesse

Peter Mate, Planit Canada



  • Importance of collecting and analyzing data and how Muskoka uses RFID for data collection.
    How data can be used to find the “gold” on our factory floors and to help employee buy-in when it comes to implementation and benefits of new technology.
  • Luke also touched on Industry 5.0 and the vital communication and interfaces between people and the connected factory.


  • The labor shortage it’s here to stay. We can see a labour movement from the shop to the office
  • Automation is not just robot or machine, it’s also software. The complete value chain must be analysis to see the opportunity
  • Advice for automation:  Start with you strategic plan, then move to VSM (value stream mapping) and after that do your automation project
  • You need to control your data and understand them. You cannot rely on external resources to control that for you
  • Automation project should be seen as an investment for the sustainability of your company. Yes, ROI is very important, but you now need to enter in your equation your long-term ability to produce
  • Automation requires project management: software or project, you cannot see that as a standard machine
  • The market will change. There’s an opportunity for the smaller company to take market share from the bigger one. There’s a decision to make to do the manufacturing or not: people that don’t invest will have trouble to compete in the future.


  • When you have more automated lines you have fewer people on the line but higher level individuals, which in my opinion is easier to find as those people are more engaged and “own” the line.
  • Planning is something most people fail miserably at.  This is a big topic; I’m talking plant layout, data in place and ready when needed, required space for the desired productivity.
  • Automation for smaller companies.  I give you an example, in the US about 4 weeks ago at the KCMA meeting (Sept 2022) when the top 3 cabinet companies in the organization decided to leave the organization.  There was a lot of “smaller” companies who told us as the associate members they will invest a lot in automation to take as much market share as possible from those big 3.  This message came from both larger companies, but a lot where the ones are currently at 100-300 cabinets per shift.


  • Attitude and aptitude will set the tone of your technology journey. It’s not perfect, so don’t go into it expecting it to be.
  • Training and good support is critical. We all have access to the same technology. The benefits you get from technology is greatly impacted by the humans using it and their knowledge. Commit to continuous training and learning.
  • To attract and retain younger talent, we must change our view of work. Focus on the results you are looking for and structure the job requirements to enable employees to figure out how to get the best output. A job is more than just a paycheck. It’s a huge part of our lives. This is our chance to make something amazing rather than the same old mundane.