Equipped for high-volume fabrication

April 1, 2008
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When Bob Costa established Cadillac Stone Works in North Las Vegas, NV, he relied on his background in building and manufacturing operations in the Detroit, MI, area. This meant placing an emphasis on automation and efficiency, and this vision has taken shape as a large-scale, state-of-the-art stone production facility.

In laying out and equipping the facility, Costa said he was able to employ several concepts from his Detroit manufacturing operations, which are related to the automotive industry. In fact, the shop’s machine operators actually came in from the Detroit region, so they already had extensive knowledge of AutoCAD and three-dimensional processing.

Costa explained that Cadillac Stone Works is focused solely on production, and it will be targeting casinos and other multi-unit commercial spaces as customers. “A 200-room apartment complex can be done in 30 days,” he said.

Cadillac Stone Works is contracted to fabricate stonework for three major casinos over the next eight years, including the Fontainebleau Las Vegas, a condo-hotel, casino and entertainment destination on the Las Vegas Strip. Construction on the multi-billion dollar, 63-story, 3,889-room project began in February of 2007, and it is anticipated to open in the fall of 2009. Cadillac Stone Works is being asked to fabricate more than 238,000 square feet of stone for this endeavor, including the common guest rooms, condominium units, penthouses, specialty guest rooms, retail stores and restaurants.

When completing casino work, Cadillac Stone Works focuses solely on the stone processing end of the business, and the stone materials themselves are selected and sourced by other parties, such as owners, developers and architects. The company’s 66,000-square-foot facility allows ample room for mock-ups, which is a critical element of casino resort design.

In addition to commercial work, Cadillac Stone Works is doing contract work for local fabrication shops in the Las Vegas area. “I knew there were a lot of smaller shops out here,” Costa said. “I just want to be a fabricator, so I can do the work for them and they can be the storefront.”

Machinery investments

Initially, Cadillac Stone Works invested in a total of six CNC stoneworking centers from Omag of Italy, including four of the Mill 4X model and two of the Mill 98 model. “I really feel that the Omag is the Cadillac of CNCs,” Costa said. Also, four additional CNC stoneworking centers are in the process of being delivered and installed - two of the Mill 4X model and two of the Mill 98 model. All of the Omag machinery is serviced in the U.S. by Salem Stone of Winston-Salem, NC. Tooling for the CNC machinery is also from Salem Stone, and Cadillac Stone Works is currently building a library of tooling to accommodate all applications of custom stonework and slabs ranging from 2 cm to 4 cm in size.

“We looked at a lot of different machinery,” Costa said in explaining his machinery selection, adding that the technology for stoneworking equipment has advanced significantly in recent years. “The first CNC machines I saw for stone were pretty primitive. Now they’re getting more and more sophisticated.”

In addition to processing edgework, the Omag Mill 98 units are able to operate as a saw as needed.

In addition to the CNC stoneworking centers, Cadillac Stone Works has a double-bed waterjet from Flow International. Costa explained that the waterjet runs at 88,000 psi, and it is only the second of its kind in the U.S. that runs at such a high pressure. This machine can be used for intricate medallions and other complex work, but it is also extremely well suited for processing slabwork. “Using the waterjet, we cut with such precision that we can cut all of the pieces - the countertops and the backsplash - from one slab,” Costa said. “That allows us to have a perfect color match.” To meet upcoming production demands, the company has also added an identical waterjet unit to its equipment roster.

“We are really trying some interesting and creative things with the waterjet,” explained Steve Hamrick, General Manager of Cadillac Stone Works. “We’ve used inlaid lighting for stone stair treads and bartops. We can also inlay logos and type using the waterjet. We also have some ideas for doing medallions.”

The edges of backsplashes are processed on a Marmo Meccanica LCV Magnum. Meanwhile, the company also developed a system for water treatment in house - always a priority in the arid Nevada environment.

Efficient material handling is a priority within the shop, and Cadillac Stone Works has a total of four Gorbel boom cranes equipped with Manzanelli vacuum lifters from GranQuartz for this purpose. “We work to minimize the moving of parts around the shop, which is key in the auto industry,” Costa said. “We also try not to double-handle anything.”

Finished stonework is placed on mobile racks from GranQuartz, and given the size of some projects completed by Cadillac Stone Works, organization is a critical element of the process.

In terms of measuring and programming, the company has Proliner digital templating equipment from Blick/Innovative, and it also has a digitizing board from Outline Technologies for scanning hard templates.

The facility can process 25,000 to 26,000 square feet of material per week, and it will be running three shifts when it is in full production. At full capacity, Cadillac Stone Works will have 24 employees on hand, including several skilled machine operators from Michigan.

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