Fabricator Case Studies

Staying Ahead with New Technology

June 7, 2011
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Working out of a 40,000- square-foot facility in San Carlos, CA, D & J Tile Co., Inc. markets to the greater San Francisco Bay area. And with the majority of its work being large-scale commercial projects, technology plays an integral role in the company’s stone fabrication process. To stay ahead of the curve, D & J Tile, which was started in 1989, has made significant investments in state-of-the-art equipment through the years, including a waterjet that is utilized for customized stonework.

“We do a lot of custom inlays,” said Michael Brady, CAD Manager of D & J Tile Co., Inc. “A total of 90% of our work is commercial, and the other 10% is residential. We do a lot of cut-to-size tile that we can ship anywhere.”

An Omax 80160 Jet Machine is in place at the company’s shop to cut inlays as well as to custom cut metal brackets. It also plays a large role in producing customized stone pieces.

The company also utilizes a wide range of equipment for various aspects of fabrication. One of its most recent investments is a Thibaut T508 Texturing Center, which was supplied through EuroStone Machine of Atlanta, GA. It had been installed a month prior to Stone World’s visit. It is equipped with abrasives and brushes from Tenax USA of Charlotte, NC.

“We have a lot of customers requesting different finishes,” said Brady, when explaining some reasons for investing in the T508. “It is also used to repair damaged pieces and help turn inventory.”

Additionally, the shop includes a host of machinery from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN. Among this equipment is a Fusion 6200 dual-table bridge saw/waterjet coupled with a Slabsmith Photo System, which allows high-resolution images of each slab to be taken and inventoried. The Fusion works in conjunction with an Ebbco Abrasive Removal System which is designed to continuously remove the spent abrasive that collects in the catch tank — eliminating downtime for clean out and maximizing production.

A Park Titan 1800 CNC stoneworking center, which is equipped with vacuum pods from Blick Industries of Laguna Beach, CA, is primarily used for countertops. “The Titan was purchased almost a year ago,” said Brady. “It has a laser measuring system that recalibrates the tooling — extending its life.”

Additionally, the CNC uses the Terminator brand of tooling from Continental DIA Diamond Products of San Carlos, CA. “Our CNC edge tooling is all Terminator Zoom, and with over 15 different profiles, we are able to achieve amazing edge combinations — all with a consistent polish right off of the machine,” said Brady. “We carry two sets of our most in-demand profiles and rotate them as they wear. The older set is sent back to Terminator to be reshaped and is quickly returned in like-new condition — ready for another production run. We stand by their tools and support, which has been unsurpassed through the years.

“Our shop also uses all Terminator blades — from our tile saws to our bridge saws,” Brady went on to say. “They always leave a perfect clean cut every time without any surprises, while at the same time maintaining high-feed rates and long tool life.”

Other Park machinery used in production includes a Pro-Edge III edge polisher, a Jaguar bridge saw and a Fastback backsplash polisher that is used for processing the edges of open joint cladding and other architectural work. “The Jaguar is our oldest piece of equipment, but it still works great,” said Brady.

The weekly production rate can vary, depending on the job. When working on multiple high-rises, D & J Tile can produce up to 2,300 square feet in a week. This number can drop to 450 square feet, when the company is between projects.

At the time of Stone World’s visit, thresholds made of Botticino marble were being run through the Fastback. In total, D & J Tile had an order to supply 650 thresholds for 350 rooms of the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco.

The SlabsmithTM Photo Station from Northwood Designs, Inc. of Antwerp, NY was bought over a year ago. “It allows us to show a layout to our customers,” said Brady. “We can manipulate the slab to show them what their countertops will look like before we even cut.”

To move slabs around the shop, workers utilize six Jib cranes with vacuum lifters from Anver Corp. of Hudson, MA. The new lifters are complete with auto tilting, according Brady.

Water used during fabrication is recycled with an EnviroSystem from Water Treatment Technologies of Hampton, NH. “Everything in the shop is 100% wet,” said Brady. “We re-use 90% of our water.”

In total, D & J Tile employs 40 workers. This includes two install crews for countertops. Templating is completed with two Proliners from Prodim and two LT-55 Laser Templators from Laser Products of Romeoville, IL. “We’ve been using them for about three years,” said Brady.

For all of its countertop installations, D & J Tile uses the KEIL Undercounter Sink Attachment System. “We put sink clips on all vanities,” said Brady. “A lot of contractors love it.” Since it is an under-counter application, a sink can be easily replaced without ever having to remove the stone countertop.

Customers can view more than 150 different types of marble, granite and onyx at D & J Tile’s showroom. The company imports directly from Italy, Brazil and India. In addition to natural stone, D & J Tile also carries CaesarStone and Silestone by Cosentino. “About 15 to 20% of our work is quartz,” said Brady.

Innovations

A little more than a year ago, D & J Tile developed Stonelyte — a unique process that uses specialized acrylic panels, coupled with LED lighting, to create an illuminated stone surface that enhances the natural elements of stone. “Stonelyte panels are produced by milling most standard stone down to a nominal thickness of 5/16 inch and directly laminating the stone material to a 5/16-inch-thick optical acrylic backing panel for strength and bright even light output,” states D & J Tile.

The company also specializes in Building Information Modeling (BIM), which is an advanced virtual modeling process that allows real time design changes and reduction of potential errors. A Virtual Design & Construction Specialist is able to put together every building stone as a three-dimensional piece. “Since every piece is built individual, we can pull out one piece and know the dimensions of each stone,” explained Brady.

At the time of Stone World’s visit, D & J Tile was using BIM for the Cathedral Hill Hospital project in San Francisco, CA. The fabricator was collaborating on the 1.2-million-square-foot urban replacement hospital with the architectural firm SmithGroup. According to Brady, 25,000 square feet of stone is being employed for the exterior of the hospital.

“It’s going to be the largest hospital on the West Coast,” said Brady. “It is an entire city block. This is the first time architects are coming to us and asking us the most efficient way to build and to get LEED points.”

D & J Tile Co., Inc.

San Carlos, CA

Type of work: 90% commercial, 10% residential

Machinery: an Omax 80160 Jet Machine from Omax Corp. of Kent, WA; a Thibaut T508 Texturing Center supplied through EuroStone Machine of Atlanta, GA; abrasives and brushes from Tenax USA of Charlotte, NC; a Fusion 6200 dual-table bridge saw/waterjet, a Titan 1800 CNC stoneworking center, a Pro-Edge III edge polisher, a Jaguar bridge saw and a Fastback backsplash polisher — all from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; an Ebbco Abrasive Removal System; Terminator Zoom CNC tooling and Terminator blades from Continental DIA Diamond Products of San Carlos, CA; a SlabsmithTM Photo Station from Northwood Designs, Inc. of Antwerp, NY; an EnviroSystem from Water Treatment Technologies of Hampton, NH; six Jib cranes with vacuum lifters from Anver Corp. of Hudson, MA; two Proliners from Prodim and two LT-55 Laser Templators from Laser Products of Romeoville, IL

Number of employees: 40 workers, including two installation crews

Production rate: Approximately 2,300 square feet per week when working on multiple high-rises

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