Fabricator Case Study: Making the investment in computerized technology
The company sits on 10 acres of land and owns a water well that pumps 40,000 gallons of water daily. This recycling system is used to run two Omax 80160 JetMachining® Centers, which are CNC-controlled waterjets that the company uses for cutting seams and anything other than squares or rectangles, according to David Owens of Top Solutions. The machines are able to cut a wide range of materials and thicknesses, and pieces as large as 6 x 12 feet.
Software used in the shop includes the CAD software that came with the waterjets for .dxf files and Design CAD Express for shop drawings.
Digital templatingIn the digital templating sector, the company invested in three LT 55 laser units from Laser Products. â€œWe looked at everything on the market and decided on the LT 55 because people at Laser Products guaranteed that their LT 55 would do the job or they would buy them back,â€ said Owens. â€œBefore, we were fabricating five jobs a day, and only made templates for odd-shaped pieces. All seams were left for the installer to cut and fit at the jobsite. Some of the seams were not as nice as we wanted. The more our volume grew, the harder it was to find quality installers to do good seams. Our goal to have the best seams possible led us to CNC.â€
â€œLaser templating was very easy [to learn],â€ said the fabricator. â€œIt took 20 minutes at the stone show, and then 10 minutes after I got setup at the first job.â€
â€œThis gives you the exact cabinet outline,â€ said Owens. â€œYou can also adjust targets for overhang and get exact tops. Most kitchens we do are 75 to 150 square feet. The only template manipulating we do is added seam lines and square up ends that should and can be exactly square. We find very few cabinets that are installed exactly square. Templates are - on typical jobs - completed and ready for CNC in 15 to 30 minutes. The .dxf template files are downloaded - via sd cards - to the server for the shop to pull up when needed.â€
Top Solutions employs five sub-contract install crews, and each team is taking two to three jobs every day. â€œWe are installing nearly three times as many jobs a day,â€ said Owens. â€œThe tops go in like a puzzle - two or three hours per job. Builders like that.â€
Top SolutionsType of work: granite countertops for production and custom builders as well as individual clients; sinks and monuments
Machinery: three LT 55 laser units from Laser Products of Romeoville, IL; two Omax 80160 JetMachining® Centers from Omax Corp. of Kent, WA; a Kaeser Worm drive air compressor; a Wizard Radial Arm Workstation, two Cougar bridge saws, a Tru-Edge computer-controlled edge shaping and finishing machine, two Pro-Edge III computer-controlled edge shaping and finishing machines and a Velocity edge machine - all from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN; two Marmoelettromeccanica Master 3000 routers
Number of Employees: 35 as well as five sub-contract install crews
Production Rate: an average of 12 countertops per day