Canadian Fabricator Grows with Advanced Technology
June 3, 2009
In 2004, Stuart Young left the residential construction field to start his own stoneworking company - “The Granite Shop” - in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. And during the four-plus years that the company has been in business, it has established itself as a pioneer in the use of technologically advanced stoneworking equipment.
According to Young, The Granite Shop was an all-manual facility when it first started, and it is now an automated, completely digital operation. “We started with a Park Industries Yukon [bridge saw], Farr Tenkay dust collector, Kaeser screw compressor, Stealth hand router, Alpha 358 hand polishers and Makita grinders,” he explained. “Our biggest advance is changing from a completely manual shop to a completely state-of-the-art digital shop.”
In making the transition, The Granite Shop made a variety of machinery investments. Among them, the company was the very first to purchase a Park Industries Fusion 4000 CNC combination bridge saw/waterjet. This unit was designed with a smaller footprint, and allows table access from the front or the side, which intends to allow for more efficient material flow. Additionally, the machine’s KerfPathTM Cutting Cycle blends the cuts between the saw and waterjet to optimize production.
Stone is also processed on a Park Industries Titan 1016 CNC stoneworking center, which features a 96- x 192-inch worktable that allows for multiple parts to be set up so operators can process many parts with unattended cycle time. Tooling for the CNC stoneworking center include ADI UHS (Ultra High Speed) tooling from GranQuartz as well as high-speed tools from Tyrolit Vincent.
Finishing work is done using Alpha or Diarex hand tools.
Moving beyond actually stonecutting and shaping, The Granite Shop also invested in an LT-55 Precision Laser Templator from Laser Products, which provides field measurements in DXF format with multi-color and multi-plane files. Using the Pathfinder Laser Template Station from Park Industries, these DXF files can be projected onto a slab to improve manual layout efficiency. Also, this system allows fabricators to nest parts for optimum utilization of the material.
Young explained that the new technology purchases have resulted in a range of benefits for the company. “We primarily made these investments to keep up with the market demand and to reduce our production times,” he said. “We also have a short supply of experienced labor [in the Calgary area]. These investments have doubled our production capabilities with more consistency and accuracy, with a reduction in labor costs.”
Production and sales
In total, The Granite Shop is able to produce four kitchens per day - or approximately 220 square feet - using its current equipment. The company has a total of 14 employees, and they have varying degrees of expertise. “We definitely have specialized positions when it comes to CNC operation or programming,” Young explained. “In these areas, I have at least three employees that can do any part of our automated process. In regards to our finishing and hand processing, we have a training process in place that allows every fabricator to learn all aspects of the trade.”
With an eye on continually maintaining a high level of quality, The Granite Shop has developed a training regiment for new workers that come on board. “New employees are hired through word of mouth primarily, as we are recognized as being one of the best companies in the city to work for,” Young said. “When a new person starts with us, we have a program that they will work through all positions in the shop and on the install vehicles. [This will] ensure that they are working in a position that they are best suited for and that they understand how each individual position effects every other person in the shop.”
Since its focus is on residential construction - including new single-family homes, remodeling work and multi-unit commercial - The Granite Shop has been working to make sure it adjusts to a continually shifting business environment. “Our biggest challenge is adapting to the changing marketplace and the general slowing trend in the housing market,” Young said. “We have had to be more aggressive with our sales and marketing.”
Sidebar: The Granite ShopCalgary, Alberta, Canada
Type of work: residential construction - including new single-family homes, remodeling work and multi-unit commercial
Machinery: Yukon bridge saw, Fusion 4000 CNC combination bridge saw/waterjet, Titan 1016 CNC stoneworking center and Pathfinder Laser Template Station, all from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; LT-55 laser templating system from Laser Products Industries of Romeoville, IL; Tenkay dust collector from Farr APC of Jonesboro, AR; screw compressor from Kaeser Compressors, Inc. of Fredericksburg, VA; ADI UHS (Ultra High Speed) CNC tooling from GranQuartz as well as high-speed CNC tooling from Tyrolit Vincent
Number of Employees: 14
Production Rate: four kitchens per day - or approximately 220 square feet