We are currently conducting an analysis on the total range of sizes we have sold in the past year and the relative popularity of each one. The overriding reasons for this are twofold: to decrease the lead times in busy period and further reduce the waste coming from our production lines.
We all know that people come in a range of shapes and sizes and ideally funeral directors would like everyone who is taken into their care to have a coffin or casket that reflects their true dimensions. Unfortunately, offering every single permutation of length, width and height is difficult for funeral directors to stock and would take a lot longer for us to make. Although Halliday FS has invested heavily in precision equipment to cut the tops, sides and bottoms, resetting the machinery between coffins for different sizes still takes time and our moulding is still cut by hand, at a different length for every coffin size.
Recent Winters have been busy for our trade, as borne out in news articles. Our lead times have suffered (as have those of all manufacturers) despite working longer days over seven days a week. Limiting production to fewer, more popular sizes will squeeze every last coffin out of the working day. Our target is a 10% increase in productivity. As an example, our current range includes 5’6” x 18”, 5’6” x 20”, 5’6” x 21”, 5’6” x 22”, 5’8” x 18”, 5’8” x 20”, 5’8” x 21”, 5’8” x 22” and 5’8” x 24” but few people would see a meaningful difference between a 5’6” x 22” and a 5’8” x 22” or a 5’6” x 20” and a 5’6” x 21”.
So how does this reduce waste?
Well, when ordering materials, we select larger boards and use them more efficiently to get two lids cut from them, even though they aren’t twice as large as original boards. To do this, we need to pick pairs of coffins that both fit well, which is easier to do when your size range is designed with this in mind.
The upside of this is that we spend less man-hours bringing in raw materials and disposing of waste and more time making coffins: another win for lead times!
But what about when we need something different?
We know that there will always be someone who falls outside the standard range of coffin sizes. News headlines frequently tell us that our population is growing, not just in number, but in our size as individuals. We will always be able to hand cut and build coffins for bespoke requirements, even if they take longer to do. We even have some hints and tips put together (from our customers’ own experience) for when you need to order something very large:
- What is the maximum size coffin of your crematorium will accept? For a coffin with single moulds, you will need to add 2” onto the internal width and height and 4” onto your internal length to get your external dimension
- Are there any narrow doorways in your premises that may restrict movement of the coffin, especially once it is occupied?
- Would the family accept a casket shape? When creating a shoulder, we cut (kerf) grooves on the inside of a board. These can create a weakness in the structure.
- If you have a straight sided coffin, the size of the handles will need to be considered when calculating the external width, although these may be removed and placed on top of the coffin before cremation.
- We only stock very large boards (larger than 7’0” x 30”) in oak veneer. We can advise on staining options in order to colour them so they are similar to other types of wood.
- Are all your staff members trained in manual handling? You may have provided training to those who handle the deceased on a daily basis but if they are bringing in help from elsewhere because of the heavier load, they are all at risk of injury.