Archive | July, 2015

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Fabricator Profile: Edstein Creative Stone Embraces Recycling

Posted on 29 July 2015 by cradmin

Nadin-West-thAlthough Edstein Creative Stone is headquartered in New South Wales, Australia, the fabricator has learned a few valuable lessons and is saving money by embracing recycling and other sustainable practices.

Edstein Creative Stone was first established back in 1896 as a masonry monument business, and today, the company is one of the most technologically advanced natural stone and countertop fabricators in the world. A major aspect of its push into effective, efficient and automated processes began in 2009 when Edstein became a member of a state sustainability program known as NSW Sustainability Advantage.

Only one year after beginning the program, the company achieved bronze status, and in 2011, it reached the silver level. The company is still working to become a gold partner in the program but has already experienced several benefits. The only difficulty is that the company had to put up nearly $1 million in capital to complete all of the upgrades, which include an automated sawing line and polishing machine and an extended storage area.

From 2009 to 2012, Edstein Creative Stone experienced an energy cost savings of 25 percent or higher per unit of production, and over five years, the cost savings per unit is expected to decrease by 48 percent. Some of the initiatives the company has taken include water recycling and rainwater harvesting that has yielded a 96 percent reduction in water consumption and repurposing stone waste for decorative aggregate in concrete projects.

After completing its expansion product, the company now boats a 17,222-sq.ft. warehouse and a fabrication shop housing a Comandulli Omega 100 Edge Polisher, a Twin Table Thibaut M10 CNC machine and several other traditional and CNC saws. The company relies on countertop fabrication for 75 percent of its business and produces about 60 countertops per week.

Read more of this Fabricator Profile here: Edstein Creative Stone

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ATI Decorative Laminates Creates On-Site ‘ATI University’

Posted on 28 July 2015 by cradmin

ATI Decorative Laminates created its first on-site educational program, ATI University. The one-and-a-half day course is designed for ATI distributors across the country. Each session brings in two to eight participants for an education on ATI’s products, and their journey from the front door to the shipping dock.

“We show and tell how each product is made, why it’s sold the way it is, and even how it’s packaged,” said Vice President of Sales Vern Combrink. “It’s a nuts and bolts perspective that helps them understand not only our product line, but also why we sell certain sizes and require certain yields.”

Each ATI University session is tailored to the distributor’s business. “Training is never a catchall. We have to take individual needs into consideration for content,” said Combrink, who notes that the design of each session is guided by an understanding of distributors’ needs, products and challenges.

There are 10 sessions of ATI University planned for 2015, and Combrink piloted a few sessions in 2014. Along with ATI University, the company has a year-long focus on education. This includes webinars for distributors that can’t travel to attend the course in person; an indexed training video for distributors, allowing them to easily access portions relevant to their business; and continuing education units (CEUs) that have long been a part of its offering.

You may also be interested in this article on ISFA addiing a conference to its annual meeting.

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U.S. Surface Warehouse Adds 15 New Livingstone Solid Surface Colors

Posted on 27 July 2015 by cradmin

livingstone 15 new colorsU.S. Surface Warehouse expanded its “Smart Palette” by adding 15 new colors of Livingstone solid surface to its line-up. The new additions include three veined surfaces reminiscent of  stone and marble. Also added were a variety of whites and grays designed to complement virtually any commercial or residential environment. Like all solid surface, Livingstone countertops are virtually seamless, impact and stain-resistant. This material also has a transferable 15-year limited warranty.

You may also be interested in this article on new solid surface colors from Mystera.

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MIA Technical Bulletin Simplifies Tolerances Research

Posted on 24 July 2015 by cradmin

2014_tolerances_tech_bulletin.inddThe Marble Institute of America (MIA) provides high-quality materials and services to help members and consumers, and the organization is not letting up on offerings designed to make our work lives just a little easier. Although it has been several months, I thought it would still be relevant to highlight one of the informational releases from the MIA: a technical bulletin titled Tolerances in the Dimension Stone Industry.

Although this technical bulletin was actually released late last year, we did not receive a press release on it until just a few months ago. This is no doubt because the MIA is just as busy as we here at are, which is why it took us so long to share this information with you. There is just so much information to try to cover in depth at all times. However, we believe that this bulletin is valuable enough that it is better to talk about it now rather than not all and help spread awareness.

MIA Technical Bulletin Volume VII, Issue II was primarily written by Chuck Muehlbauer, technical director of the organization, and was designed with not only fabricators and installers of natural stone in mind, which includes countertop fabricators, but also for designers and architects. The document pulls together installation and fabrication tolerances from several sources, which makes it easier to research and obtain published tolerance standards.

Nothing in Manufacturing or Construction Is Exact

One of the great strengths of this bulletin is that, from the very beginning, it admits that “nothing in manufacturing, construction or commerce is exact.” Although new technologies have allowed us to reduce the level of error, nothing measures exactly as it was specified. Because of this, all manufacturers have provided for allowable deviations from their specified values, and this includes the dimensions that may affect the structural integrity and aesthetics of natural stone.

Unfortunately for those in the natural stone industries, tolerance variations for installation and fabrication are not easy to find. It can take uncounted hours to find the specific information required to take the guesswork out of a job. The value of the new technical document was best defined by Muehlbauer when asked about the MIA bulletin:

“The recently published MIA bulletin on fabrication and installation tolerances for natural stone has simplified the lives of both the specifier and the provider,” stated Muehlbauer. “Previously, one would have had to sift through more than 1,000 pages of published documents to find all of this information. Now, it can be easily referenced in a matter of minutes.”

New Voluntary Standard

The Stone Tolerances Technical Bulletin from the MIA is considered to be a voluntary standard for anyone working with natural stone. It has been cross-referenced with tolerance levels provided from a wide range of sources and organizations, and it has been reviewed by stakeholders in the industry as a consensus of their opinions. When no specific documents are available to cover a natural stone project, the MIA encourages this bulletin to be cited as an appropriate industry standard.

Under normal circumstances, this document can be considered an authority on the subject of stone tolerances. However, buyers and sellers may agree to alternate standards, and under extreme conditions, the stated MIA tolerances may not be appropriate.

The complete technical bulletin is available free of charge at the MIA website, and it can be viewed, downloaded and printed by clicking on the following link: MIA Technical Bulletin on Tolerances in the Dimension Stone Industry.

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Vicostone Adds 4 New Quartz Surfacing Colors

Posted on 23 July 2015 by cradmin

Vicostone CendreVicostone recently added four new colors to its growing line of quartz surfacing. The new colors fall into two separate color collections. They all have unique veined looks that add to the versatility of the company’s product line. The colors that have been added to the Designer Series are Gray Savoie, with a light gray background and light almost white veining; Cendre (pictured here) with a slightly darker gray/brown background with both light and dark veining; and Uliano, with a darker gray background with lighter veining. The fourth addition, Cinza, is in the Romance Series and has a mid-tone brownish background with lighter brown veining.

You may also be interested in this article on new quartz colors from MS International (MSI).

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Movable 4-Foot Cantilever Countertop Video

Posted on 22 July 2015 by cradmin

This is something we have just not ever seen before, and thought it worth sharing. This video, put out by Defauw Design + Fabrication, is of a countertop that slides on what looks to be a complex frame. The island countertop apparently slides towards either end to allow for a 4-foot cantilever in either direction.

The video doesn’t seem to have any sound, but the idea is expressed very clearly through the video, regardless of the lack of narration. Unfortunately, when we went to the company’s website, we couldn’t find much more information on how this was done or what material the actual top is made from. But, if you want to see something interesting, this is it.

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Respiratory Protection in the Countertop Industry (Part 1)

Posted on 21 July 2015 by cradmin

respiratoryprotection_indexForklifts and falling slabs are the primary safety concerns for countertop fabricators, but in addition to safety, employers are responsible for the health of the employees in their shops. Health concerns in the workplace are too numerous to mention in a single article, but many of them can be boiled down to one particular element: respiratory protection.

However, the concept and application of respiratory protection alone can be complex, so we are presenting the topic in two parts. In Part 1, we will explore respirators in general and some of the federal and state regulations regarding their use, and in Part 2, coming next month, we will explore silica dust in greater detail.

Respiratory Protection in the Workplace

Simply touching or coming into close contact with volatile compounds can cause serious medical issues, and most workers try to pay close attention to what gets on their skin, but when the dangers are airborne, they can be impossible to avoid. Whether the danger is airborne silica dust from cutting stone or solvent vapors from adhesives or coating, the only real protection is to wear a properly fitting respirator designed specifically for the hazards.

Today, it is estimated that around 5 million workers in 1.3 million workplaces are required to wear respirators while on the job in order to comply with all federal and state laws. Respirators are designed to protect workers from harmful substances in the air or from environments with insufficient oxygen. Airborne hazards may cause any number of serious and life-threatening medical conditions, including cancer, disease, respiratory impairment and lack of oxygen.

The federal rules for respirators and when they must be worn by workers are spelled out in OSHA Standard 29 CFR, Part 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection, Occupational Safety and Health Standards. However, a training and reference sheet produced by OSHA makes it easy for employers to understand the requirements under this standard: Major Requirements of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard 29 CFR 1910.134.

Reducing Respiratory Hazards

Under OSHA’s respiratory protection standard, employers are required to provide a safe and healthy working environment free of respiratory hazards. When such hazards are present, the employer is required to implement a three-step process in order to control them.

  1. Identify all of the respiratory hazards in the workplace and at specific job sites. This includes considering the sources of respiratory hazards in raw materials, processes and end products and reviewing safety data sheets for chemicals used.
  1. Evaluate employee exposure levels to each identified hazard. Obtain data about employee exposure by taking personal and locational air samples and comparing it to data from industry studies, trade associations or manufacturers.
  1. Eliminate or reduce exposure to hazards. Respirators are expensive, incur ongoing costs and reduce productivity. Because of this, it is much more desirable and cost effective to eliminate or reduce respiratory hazards through the following means rather than submit to the use of respirators and as the only means of protection.
  • Engineering controls – Ventilation, exhaust ducts, process isolation
  • Work practice controls – Wet-cutting, etc.
  • Administrative controls – Reducing the number of employees or the amount of time employees are exposed to specific hazards, substituting toxic materials for non-toxic materials

Requirements of the Respiratory Protection Standard

If you, as an employer, cannot completely eliminate the need for respirators in the workplace, which is the respiratory protection standard, it is recommended that you take the following four steps in implementing an effective respiratory program:

  1. Educate yourself on respirators and respiratory health.
  2. Seek the help of outside experts. Free and paid assistance is available from several sources:
  • State and federal OSHA consultation services
  • Workers’ compensation carriers
  • Trade associations
  • Private health and safety consulting firms
  • Respirator manufacturers, distributors and vendors
  1. Develop and implement a written respiratory protection program.
  2. Establish a system to evaluate the program, ensuring it remains updated, efficient and effective.

Developing an Effective Respiratory Protection Program

med_evaluationsIf airborne contaminants are present in your workplace, it is not enough simply to supply respirators to workers in the hazardous areas. You must develop a full respiratory protection program. The program must be put in writing and describe how all of the following will be accomplished:

  1. Choose the appropriate respirators for each employee in each hazardous zone.
  1. Conduct medical evaluations for employees. All employees required to wear respirators must complete an OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire and undergo a physical examination by a licensed physician trained in occupational health. Remember, the questionnaires and results of the examination are confidential medical records that should be kept by the doctor or healthcare organization. In most cases, it is a violation of the law to store these records on premises where they can be accessed by unauthorized personnel. However, employers should receive evaluation documents from the doctor that should be kept in your records.
  1. Fit-test employees who are required to wear tight-fitting respirators. Equipment and services ror fit-testing may be available at local occupational health clinics.
  1. Observe employees to ensure they are using their respirators correctly at all times, while performing regular work and during emergencies.
  1. Clean, maintain and replace respirators as necessary to ensure they are always working properly. Further details of this requirement can be found within the OSHA rule.
  1. Train employees on respiratory hazards and how to protect themselves from such hazards.
  1. Evaluate the respiratory protection program in order to keep it updated for new materials, processes and environments.

Types of Respirators

typesWhen choosing respirators for your employees, it is imperative to understand that you cannot use just any respirator. Several different types of respirators have been developed to protect people from specific respiratory hazards in various environments. It is up to you to discover and evaluate which hazards your employees are being exposed to and which respirators protect against these hazards.

Respirators are organized into categories based on several factors, and one of these is the inlet covering, which is the part of the respirator that forms a protective barrier between the contaminated air and the wearer’s respiratory tract. Tight-fitting respirators include a facemask that creates a seal over the face while loose-fitting respirators typically cover the user’s entire head and sometimes the shoulders.

Respirators can further be classified as air purifying and atmosphere supplying. Air purifying respirators include a filter, canister or cartridge for specific air hazards, and different filters are needed for each class and type of contaminant. Non-powered air-purifying respirators are activated when the worker inhales, but powered air-purifying respirators make it easier to breathe. Types of air-purifying respirators are as follows:

  • Particulate-removing respirator
  • Gas-and-vapor-removing respirator
  • Combination respirator for removing particulates and vapors

Atmosphere-supplying respirators provide the wearer with breathable air from a source outside the immediate environment. The three major types of atmosphere-supplying respirators are as follows:

  • Supplied-air respirator (SAR) – Supplies breathable air from a stationary source through a flexible hosing system.
  • Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) – Supplies breathable air from a portable source.
  • Combination respirator – Can be used as an SAR or SCBA.

Respiratory Protection Resources for Employers

Respiratory protection is one of the leading occupational health topics in the United States, and dozens of resources are available online to help employers comply with the federal standard and state regulations and to protect the health and lives of their employees. While the following list is not exhaustive, it provides a good starting point for anyone who wishes to implement a new respiratory protection plan or audit an existing plan.

If you have a state OSHA agency, it will be your greatest resource for information specific to your location. However, the federal OSHA branch and several states also offer valuable information on the subject.

Be on the lookout for next month’s Health & Safety Watch, featuring Part 2 of our series on respiratory protection: Countertop Fabrication and Silica Dust Exposure.

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The International Surface Event EAST Officially Opens 2015 Attendee Online Registration

Posted on 20 July 2015 by cradmin

Online registration for those wishing to attendee The International Surface Event (TISE) East. This is the second year for the event, which will run from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5 in Orlando, Fla. this year. The trade show has three distint portions – StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas, TileExpo and SURFACES. On Nov. 2, only educational offerings will be available, with the exhibit hall opening the next day, Nov. 3. Organizers are planning some new features at this year’s event. “The Porch, Open Air Design Concept” is among the new features and according to the show will be the hub of activity on the show floor. Including a cocktail bar, happy hours and lounges, it will be the central meeting location for tours. The Porch will showcase the high demand design, architectural and retail needs for the ever popular open air design concept. This beautifully designed show feature will showcase exhibitor’s floor covering, stone and tile products, paired with designer accessories. The show will also include the new Peer 180 Conference, a peer-to-peer conference experience in which attendees will share the problems with which they need help, the answers they have learned from their own experiences and make connections with professionals who face the same challenges. It is designed to be a smaller, more intimate and supported environment tailored by and for the individual attendee. The show will also host various parties and networking events, as well as MIA sessions. Pricing and additional information is available at the TISE East website.

You may also be interested in this article on attendee numbers at the recent Coverings show.

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LG Hausys Launches Three New HI-MACS Solid Surface Basin Designs

Posted on 17 July 2015 by cradmin

LG HI-MACS new sinksLG Hausys  added three new HI-MACS solid surface basins to its bathroom sink line-up. The slender top-mounted basins – circular, rectangular and square-shaped – are designed to sit on top of vanities or customized top surfaces. The sinks are suitable for renovation projects that seek to combine styles and materials for an eclectic space design. The acrylic solid surface basins work well with other materials and surfaces and are nonporous, stain-resistant and resistant to scratches and wear. The collection is available in Alpine White and Nougat Cream.

You may also be interested in this article on the new sinks from Houzer.

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Daltile Acquires Mexican Facility, while also Constructing Tennessee Plant

Posted on 16 July 2015 by cradmin

Ceramic tile manufacturer Daltile acquired Cerámica San Lorenzo’s North American operations. This includes a Mexicali, Mexico, -based manufacturing facility along with a warehouse and showroom in Southern California. This brings the number of North American manufacturing plants owned by the company to 11. The new facility makes tile under the “San Lorenzo” brand for the builder, remodeling and commercial segments of the industry. John Turner, Jr., president of Daltile, was reported to have said that the company will invest in the Mexican plant to enhance its capabilities.

Additionally, the company is in the process of building a 12th ceramic tile manufacturing plant and distribution center in Dickson, Tenn, which is scheduled to open this year and begin full-scale production by early next year.

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