Tag Archive | "fabrication"

Up Your Game with PaperStone Inlays

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Up Your Game with PaperStone Inlays

Posted on 25 July 2019 by CRadmin2

This recent video from Gene McDonald is a montage showcasing some of the inlay designs that are possible using PaperStone brand recycled paper countertops. McDonald, also known as “The Designicator”, does a good job highlighting how other countertop materials can be used with PaperStone to create a fusion effect. For further information or to request a training seminar, email McDonald at [email protected]

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Explain Why a Professional Is Preferable to DIY

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Explain Why a Professional Is Preferable to DIY

Posted on 22 May 2019 by cradmin

This short video features real estate agent Brenda K and Sean Mitchell of East Coast Countertops. Mitchell talks about some of the reasons why a consumer would be better off with a professional countertop fabricator rather than making it a DIY project.

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Video: Granite Slab Pre-Fabrication Inspection

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Video: Granite Slab Pre-Fabrication Inspection

Posted on 22 February 2019 by CRadmin2

The first step to fabricating granite is to complete a thorough inspection of the slab to detect any fissures or cracks. This can prevent unnecessary waste and delays. There is nothing more disheartening than having to call a customer to reschedule installation at a later date.

The following video is the first in a series presented by Fox Granite Countertops in New Braunfels, Texas. Even if you are already inspecting your slabs, it is often advantageous to get a look at how others are performing the work. If you believe this video is helpful, we may publish the other five videos in the series in the coming months. Let us know what you think at [email protected].

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Business Sense: Building a Fab Business - Velocity vs. Volume

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Business Sense: Building a Fab Business – Velocity vs. Volume

Posted on 05 July 2018 by cradmin

By Harry Hollander of Moraware

Think of a mountain river. Typically, there are stretches of white water occasionally interspersed with standing pools of calm. In the countertop business, according to the concept of Synchronous Flow, projects should move through the shop with a certain velocity like white water in a river, with a few buffer points built into the system where jobs can accumulate for a certain period of time to anticipate glitches in the process. The result is that even though jobs might be sidelined for a period of hours or even a day, all the projects are moving through the plant at a pre-determined speed, or velocity.

“The objective is to keep product moving,” says Ed Hill, founder of Synchronous Solutions, a consulting firm that focuses on helping business owners enhance opportunities for growth through increased operations velocity. “Typically in a countertop shop we control two dimensions in the flow of product through the plant. One is volume, and the other is velocity. Volume is how much, velocity is how fast. The volume is variable, depending upon the demand, depending upon various other factors that affect the flow on any day or month. But the velocity part, we want to keep that fixed.”

Determine The Control Point
With so many critical steps in the process of turning raw slabs of material into beautifully crafted kitchen furnishings, one might find it almost impossible to optimize and maintain high velocity at every station, all of the time. And, for the most part, Hill would agree. He prefers to focus instead on a single “control point” for the whole operation.

“In the counter top industry, we often put the control point at installation because that’s where the cash register rings,” says Hill. “The company doesn’t make money templating or cutting or fabricating. It makes money when it installs those counter tops in the customer’s location. Trying to optimize every step in the process can be overwhelming and chaotic, and often results in an atmosphere of chaos. All those things are important, but focus your attention on the control point or, in this case, installation. Make it beat like a drum. We call it a drum because we want it on a cadence: methodical, predictable and controllable.”

In essence, every function in the shop is tuned to keep a certain constant flow, or velocity, at the control point. Yet, as Hill points out, we do not live in a perfect world. “Murphy lives and stuff happens,” he acknowledges. “Slabs break, machines break down, people are absent, all sorts of things happen that cause disruption to the flow. So we build into the system more capacity, typically around 15%, to absorb variability and keep the drumbeat steady. It’s called protective capacity, and we call those locations of slack, buffers.”

Quality, Price AND Speed
Hill maintains there are distinct advantages to keeping flow through the shop at a constant velocity. One of them is predicting with complete confidence the turnaround time for a kitchen countertop. “Let’s say we template on a Monday and we want to install on the following Monday,” he says. “The lead times in each fabrication zone from beginning to end, template to install, are fixed. It’s not a variable amount. Their role is to serve the drumbeat of the constraint, and protective capacity is built into the system to absorb variability. So yes, we can make a promise when we template on a certain day, assuming all the information is clean.

“Countertop fabricators sell quality, which is not even a competitive opportunity anymore because you have to be pretty much perfect. They sell to some extent on price, and they sell on time. If they can be at good quality and have reasonable prices, then to be faster than anyone else assures they will get their share of the business.”

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Business Sense: Appraising the True Value of Fabrication Equipment

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Business Sense: Appraising the True Value of Fabrication Equipment

Posted on 07 June 2018 by CRadmin2

By Harry Hollander of Moraware

It takes machinery to fabricate countertops in the stone industry: big, heavy, expensive pieces of equipment. From an accounting perspective, the value of the equipment on the shop floor is determined by a depreciation formula, which may or may not reflect its true replacement value. How much you could actually get for your equipment on the open market might be something entirely different.

There are good reasons why you should be aware of those assets’ true value. “For one, you’re going to want to know for insurance purposes what your assets are worth so you could get the proper insurance,” explains Terrance Jacobs of TCL Asset Group, a machinery management and advisory firm. “In many cases, when dealing with a bank or a leasing company, you want to pledge assets that are paid off to improve the manufacturing end of your company.”

Determining Value

The only way to know the market value of fabrication equipment is by using the Sales Comparison Approach. “Instead of just saying a piece of equipment is going to depreciate by 5 or 10% every year,” Jacobs says, “we go out into the market and we look at similar or the same items and see what they’re selling for. That’s how we determine what the asset is worth.”

Knowing the street value of your equipment can come in handy, for example, when you are ready to expand the business and want to finance capital purchases through a bank or leasing company. “It’s difficult to get money if you’re just using your receivables for collateral,” Jacobs explains. “It’s a lot easier to pledge something that’s tangible and can be resold right away.”

As a buyer and seller of specialized equipment, Jacobs has a piece of advice for anyone considering going the used machinery route. “

One of the main things to look for is the date of manufacture as opposed to the date of purchase,” he says. “So when you’re looking at a piece of equipment and someone tells you that they just purchased it, you might assume that it’s brand new when it really was manufactured 15 or 20 years ago. Also, if you look at a piece of used equipment and it’s shiny and beautiful, with no scuff marks on it, you might question why it looks that way. The stonework industry is messy, there’s a lot of water, so you expect to see some wear and tear. If something has recently been repainted you might wonder what is hidden under that new paint.”

The Hidden Costs

And, finally, start with the end in mind. If you ever wanted to sell your equipment, for example, or use it as collateral for a loan, how much would it cost to get it out of your facility? “It could be a beautiful piece of equipment; brand new and never used,” Jacobs says, “but if it’s inside four concrete walls and it was dropped in with a crane on the 10th floor of a building, it’s going to cost a lot of money to get it out. Therefore, even though it’s a really nice piece of equipment, the value’s going to go down.”

For further information on machinery appraisals you can contact Terrance Jacobs at [email protected]

Listen to Terrance & Patrick Foley of Moraware talk about equipment value and auctions: Listen to StoneTalk

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Is it Time to Automate Your Shop?

Posted on 13 April 2017 by cradmin

cover-02As most of our readers are aware, countertop fabricators come in all sizes and budgets, and the number of customers they serve varies widely. Many fabricators new to the industry start out with the bare minimum equipment and use only manual tools while shops that have been around for some time and have high numbers of customers have spent thousands of dollars upgrading to automated systems.

If you are among the fabricators who still use manual equipment, you may be asking yourself how to determine the right time to automate. This is a difficult question to answer because so many variables are involved, but one equipment manufacturer recently put out a great resource to help machine operators make a decision.

TigerStop, an international company headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., has been in business since 1994 manufacturing automated machines for cutting, punching and boring metal, wood and plastic. Although the company’s equipment is not directly geared toward countertop fabricators, the information in its free, downloadable document, When Is the Right Time to Automate My Shop?, holds true in nearly any industry with machine operators.

Should You Automate?

According to TigerStop, the most important question about automation is whether you should do it all. Specialty craft designers and artisans may have too much pride in their work to leave it all to machines, and this may be exactly the type of work their customers expect and desire.

However, most small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) may find automation helps them handle workload surges and busy seasons more efficiently – to their own benefit and to the benefit of their customers. In most cases, larger fabrication shops that service wide regions or high numbers of customers will surely benefit from automation and would be wise to implement the equipment to do so as quickly as possible.

The Risk Factor

The question of whether to automate largely breaks down to how much risk you are willing to accept. People make mistakes, and only the most experienced and skilled craftsman can manage all of them. Such risks include miscuts, shop errors, reworking jobs and on the far end, the loss of entire slabs.

Shops that can successfully mitigate the risks associated with human error usually have higher costs, so they must have a clientele that is willing to pay prices higher than that of competitors.

David Pye, author of The Nature and Art of Workmanship, explains that in a manual shop, the quality of the final product is always at risk, and this is known as the Workmanship of Risk. In an automated shop, the result of the process is predetermined by the equipment, and this is called the Workmanship of Certainty.

Taking all of this into consideration, it is possible to determine when you need to automate by identifying when you can no longer tolerate the losses created by human error. These losses, however, are not always monetary. You must also consider your own feelings and how you personally deal with these losses.

Other Factors in the Choice to Automate

Another factor that could help you choose whether to automate your shop is the availability of skilled or easily teachable workers. If you always have a steady stream of talent in your community or region, you may not need to automate, but if you have a difficult time finding good employees, automation can help you keep up with demand.

Approach Automation Slowly

One of the most prevalent myths about shop automation is that it has to be done all at once, but TigerStop explains that it is best to approach the subject slowly and deliberately, testing each application or process before implementing a new one. This helps you minimize risks while maintaining a high level of accuracy. In addition, this slow introduction will help your employees become comfortable with the equipment.

A sound approach to automation is to apply it to the processes that carry the highest amount of risk. In addition, it may be possible to add automation to your existing equipment rather than totally replacing it with each step.

Four Steps to Evaluate Automation

TigerStop believes that evaluating automation in your shop can be broken down into the following four steps:

  1. Look for processes to automate. Great candidates are processes that are repetitive, simple and prone to errors.
  1. Time your processes. Get some metrics on how long your processes take and how many times they are performed each day.
  1. Determine the cost of each process. Multiply the time it takes performing a task by the number of times it is performed, then multiply the result by your labor cost.
  1. Does an automated solution provide any of the following benefits?
  • Saves money
  • Saves time
  • Decreases job reworking
  • Increases yield
  • Reduces waste

Purchasing Automation Equipment

Once you decide automation would be to your benefit, it then becomes necessary to decide which method of equipment acquisition provides the highest additional benefits. This is often a question best left for your accountant, but typical options include leasing, leasing to buy, financing and outright purchase.

For the full report that includes several case studies, you will have to provide your email address to TigerStop, but the information it contains is well worth getting on a mailing list, especially since you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Groves Releases 2017 Stone Handling Catalog

Posted on 06 January 2017 by cradmin

groves catalogGroves Incorporated has released the new 2017 edition of its “Stone Storage, Fabrication and Transportation Systems” catalog. The catalog features several new products, such as its Heavy-Duty Bundle Rack-Long; Heavy-Duty Backsplash Cart; and Heavy-Duty Drywall Cart, as well as a variety of fabrication tables and storage/material handling products for granite, quartz and numerous other slab and countertop related materials. It can be downloaded at Groves website or the company will send a printed copy to those requesting one.

You may also be interested in this article on Wood Powr Grip Vacuum LIfters.

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A Video Look at Fabricating Compact Surfaces

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A Video Look at Fabricating Compact Surfaces

Posted on 23 December 2016 by cradmin

This video, produced and offered by Neolith by TheSize, takes a relatively deep look at fabricating ultra-compact/compact surfaces. It discusses the types of equipment that can be used, as well as the blades and tooling required. This information includes CNC machining, waterjet cutting and even the use of hand tools, addressing both wet and dry cutting. It also touches on adhesive qualities needed for installation (including interior versus exterior applications).

It also explains the cutting speeds (both feed speeds and RPM for blades) allowed for different types of cuts and equipment. It discusses making relief cuts when necessary. Support systems for use when cutting or performing other tasks are also touched upon, as well as material handling methods.

Other areas examined are finishing, polishing, edging, sink cut-outs and mounting, among other things.

Of course, the video is specifically referencing the Neolith compact surface product, but the information should be in the ball park for other materials, although manufacturer recommendations should certainly be followed in all cases.

You may also be interested in this video on performance testing for Dekton Compact Surfacing.

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Improved Metabo Grinders Available from GranQuartz

Posted on 12 October 2016 by cradmin

granquartz-metabo-grindersGrandQuartz is now offering the recently re-engineered Metabo grinders. The improved grinders reportedly provide more torque and power with less vibration, allowing you to get the work done faster. According to the company the grinders now provide up to 50 percent more torque than the previous generation, up to 20 percent more power than previous models and up to 20 percent more overload capacity in extreme applications. The grinders are also equipped with a patented mechanical safety slip clutch that reduces the risk of grinder kickback. The anti-vibration systems can reduce hand/arm vibrations by 60 percent and extend wheel and tool life up to 100 percent (not standard on WEV-10-125).

You may also be interested in this article about polishing wheels from GranQuartz.

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Water Treatment Solutions Introduces Recycled Water Coolant Additive

Posted on 09 May 2016 by cradmin

Water Treatment Solutions

This shows the potential improvement in water that can be made by using coolant

Water Cool from Water Treatment Solutions is a specially formulated coolant  that is added to the water in water recycling system for stone and quartz fabrication. It is designed to help stabilize pH levels, improve lubricity to extend tool life, keep water treatment equipment free of rust and manage biological contamination. It contains high levels of corrosion inhibitors to keep  equipment rust-free, even at dilution rates of 40:1. It also helps control septic odors in water and prevents filter cloths from needing to be changed prematurely.

You may also be interested in this article on Park Industries HydroClear systems for water treatment.

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