Report from Europe: Stone fireplace producer adds technology
September 1, 2006
Located in Auneau, near Chartres in the northwest of France, between Paris and Nantes, Richar Le Droof processes fireplaces in soft limestone (hearthstone). Recently, the company upgraded its operation by investing in CNC stoneworking technology.
Richar Le Droof's speciality is manufacturing not only the mantle, but all pieces for a fireplace project. The company can provide models or manufacture personal designs such as a coat of arms.
Equipment at the facility includes three bridge saws, hand saws, manual grinders, an Intermac 5-axis CNC stoneworking center and the company's latest investment, a Thibaut T 108 automatic V4 CNC stoneworking center.
The T108A V4 has been engineered by Thibaut for ease of use, and it can work in mass production mode or for creation of singular, one-of-a-kind designs. It has two worktables running a length of 10 meters (32.8 feet) in size. Richar Le Droof selected the machine because of its simple programming as well as its accessibility. The company also pointed to a high production rate for the unit, and reported that it is already considering a second Thibaut CNC machine.
Richar Le Droof's market includes the bulk of Europe, including Eastern European markets such as Russia and the Ukraine. The company feels that its position in the marketplace is well oriented at the moment, due to the current high price of oil products as well as environmental concerns. With these factors in mind, people are looking for more ecological systems for domestic heat in buildings and houses, and fireplaces are considered to be an alternative system in this regard.
Overall, Richar Le Droof - part of SUPRA Group in France, which is specialized in heating-related products such as wood, oil, gas and electricity - has 100 employees, including 25 working in the stone shop.