What's on the horizon for the stone industry
As I write this, I’m sitting at Newark International Airport in New Jersey waiting for my flight to Indianapolis to board. My final destination is Bloomington, where my friends from the Indiana Limestone Institute will take me on a tour of several quarries in the area. (Look for a full report on my adventure in the September issue, which will feature a focus on limestone.) During my wait, I ordered something to eat while sitting at a table by my gate. I do this at the touch of my finger tips from a tablet stationed there. My order is placed and a receipt is either sent as a text message or email. They make it so easy … just “tap” what you want and swipe your credit card. The same is true when I purchase a bottle of water and a snack for the flight. In this case, technology eliminates long lines.
Advances in technology are not only found at the airport. There are self-checkout lines at grocery stores, advanced online movie ticket purchases and devices such as “Alexa” and Google Home that allow us to play music, ask for the weather or turn on lights by voice command.
All of these technological advances have been introduced for convenience. And it’s no different in the stone industry.
Last month, we took a look at how robotic technology has become an integral part of stone fabrication. It really is a game changer. At first, there were not many manufacturers of this type of equipment, but as fabricators started to realize the benefits of investing in a robotic sawjet, more leading manufacturers have dedicated time to research and development of their own type of machinery such as this. The fabricators we have spoken to who use robots in their fabrication process agree it has helped to increase production and efficiency in their shops.
In this issue, we take a more in-depth look at “digital solutions” for the fabricator. Going beyond physical machinery, there are more and more software programs, digital templating systems and online services to make a fabricator’s job easier. These advances in technology make them run a more efficient business and offer topnotch service to their customers. Our product roundup beginning on page 78 provides insight to a sampling of these types of products that are available today.
While I have certainly experienced glitches in technology, overall the evolution of the digital age is beneficial to all of us. I look forward to seeing what is next on the horizon – both personally and in the stone industry.
On a completely different note, I have to make a quick mention to our cover story on the Statue of Liberty Museum, which starts on page 94. It is always one of the favorite parts of my job to be able to write about such a landmark project. What is so special and important to note is that the design team sought historic Stony Creek granite for the outdoor public area of the new facility in keeping with tradition, as it was used for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty more than 100 years ago. I have had the privilege to visit the Stony Creek quarry several times during my career at Stone World. The town of Stony Creek is quaint and I love the story how the stone was shipped from the site to the port in the Long Island Sound to supply many historic buildings and architectural gems in New York City over the past century.
I look forward to bringing you more insight into the stone industry next month. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying your summer vacation.