Stages in the life of an office chair, Part 8 From upholstery to delivery
Our series has already guided you through seven stages in the life of an office chair – from product management via the development workshop to the sewing room. The eighth and final part of our office chair series explains how the individual parts produced during this process become a chair, and what tests that chair has to pass before it can leave our factory.
What would a seat be without upholstery? That’s right – really uncomfortable! Günter Stumpf is responsible for chair comfort.
Günter, tell me what happens in your upholstery workshop?
Here in the upholstery workshop, fabric is joined to the plastic and wooden seat shells, and we manufacture the seat and back upholstery.
The standard method is to use a stapler to join these components together. But there are also special rubber covers, or what we call the tensioned thread technique, to bond the fabric, upholstery and seat shell together: to start with, I line up the fabric on the upholstery machine. Then the machine presses the fabric down and tensions the thread that connects everything together – forces of up to 80 kilos are acting on the materials here! The beginning and end are the fiddliest bits: it’s not at all easy to attach a button to the thread. So we came up with an idea: I use an artery clamp, a special medical instrument, to hold the thread in place. I grind the clamp down to the size I need. This trick has served us well over the past 20 years!
Once you’ve upholstered the chair, it goes off to Georg Reiswich for the final stage of assembly: this is where all the individual parts are put together to create an office chair. For this process, the final assembly team members cooperate closely on different systems.
Georg Reiswich explains how smoothly and efficiently this functions:
Our newest system is what we call the carousel: four employees work there at one time, using a synchronised line assembly technique on a product such as the Mera chair. There are four consecutive stations – first the seat is assembled, then the back and armrests, and finally there’s another check.
Each employee has three minutes for his work steps. That means a finished chair leaves final assembly on the conveyor every three minutes ready to be sold – making a total of 20 chairs an hour. The long-term goal in the final assembly area – which we are constantly trying to achieve – is maximum flexibility. If everyone can do everything, then it’s possible to apply a job rotation strategy so that final assembly employees can work wherever they are needed. As a result we are in a position to respond flexibly to highly diverse orders.
After Georg and his team have put the individual parts together to make chairs, it’s time to “take a seat” and test it! Every customer should be fully satisfied with every aspect of their new office chair – after all most people spend a lot of time sitting there on a regular basis.
For that reason, Thomas Lohr from Quality Control subjects the products to intensive testing:
We work to extremely high standards: every chair has to be perfect in terms of quality! So our work starts with goods received. All bought materials are checked before they even enter the production process. During production, the employees themselves have primary responsibility for the quality of their work – we call it employee self-checking. So every chair that ends up in our Quality Control has already been 100 per cent checked by the employees. But we still carry out further random controls after that.
The first thing is to check whether the chair is consistent with the order. After that there’s a visual check: are there any scratches, holes in the fabric or soiling? Finally we test all the chair functions as well, for instance the Moteo Style with Klimatechnologie or the massage action of the WOOOM.
Incidentally, when we start new runs and produce sample chairs, every single chair is checked additionally before being delivered to the customer.
A true Klöber has to go through many stages, and pass even more tests. That’s all from our office chair series. If you’d like to read about all the stages again, you can explore our blog.
Do you have any more questions or suggestions? We would be delighted to receive any feedback.