Q: What are some of the latest advances in CNC technology that you are using in your shop and how has this helped your production?
Tim Farr, Stoneworks of Augusta, Inc., Augusta, GA: We recently purchased a GMM Brio CNC saw. It has enabled us to move more material through the routing process faster because of the accuracy of cuts. It has also made cutting much easier and faster than a manual saw.
Dan Dauchess, Signature Stone, Toana, VA: We just finished our second year with our GMM Egil CNC saw and I’m still amazed at how it has changed our workflow. I would describe our shop as a digitally-integrated manual operation. Before the saw’s arrival, we were digitally templating our jobs. We then cut out the job with a manual bridge saw and then routed and polished the edges using a Master. At that time, the saw operation was the bottleneck in our shop. Since the installation of the saw, the bottleneck has easily shifted to the polishing operations.
Fabricators who are using CNC technology have expressed that the equipment has not only increased their production capacity, but it also saves time — making for an overall more efficient shop.
At the time we bought our saw, conventional wisdom stated that the first automated piece of equipment you should buy would be the CNC router. In the past two years, we have achieved great production capacity integrating a CNC saw into our manual process without adding additional people. The value provided by a CNC saw, in my mind, makes it a better first step into the digital world. It is a great value for small to medium-sized shops. Larger production facilities may still be better suited to using a combination waterjet/saw machine. With that said, we are taking the next step and buying a CNC router this year.
Chris Hildebrand, Affordable Quality Marble & Granite Inc., Aiken SC:The first “Big Investment” we made was a LT-55 Templator. This was the only digital equipment we used for four years, and I couldn’t express in words how this helped shape our company to prepare for digital fabrication.
Three years ago, we bought a CNC router and went through a huge change in the way we fabricate. In February of this year, we took delivery of a CNC saw and now process three times as much as we did manual — with half the people — as well as increasing our standards. We consistently turn out a topnotch product with very little effort by properly maintaining tools.
This has been huge in our area, as we have a very small labor pool to pull experienced help from, and it is a lot easier to train someone to run a machine than it is to train to work with their hands in today’s day and age.
Dan Riccolo, Morris Granite, Morris, IL: We have a GMM Rotex CNC saw. It allows us to cut more efficiently, thus saving labor. The move to this saw has saved us money in the form of better yields, faster cutting and reduced labor. It reduced saw time from eight hours per day to 2 ½ hours per day — freeing up an employee for 5 ½ hours per day. It’s like having a free employee for 5 ½ hours every day. That is a significant financial impact on a small shop.
Brian Andre, ANA Granite LLC, Flint MI:We have had CNC routers for three years. They have helped us with production by providing accuracy and consistency that is difficult to match with hand fabricating. It has eliminated the training curve in our shop and has freed up skilled tradesman to do other tasks.
It was a difficult decision to buy our first CNC because of the money that is invested, but we have realized the benefits and are going to invest in a CNC saw to help even more with the flow of material through our shop. There was a learning curve at first, but with the proper training, it wasn’t too difficult. We are constantly learning about different thing you can do on the CNC like engraving, drain boards, texturing slabs, milling slabs and hundreds of edges.