Screen to Machine - Factory Automation

The transition to CNC machinery using software which links design to production continues to be one of the greatest labour saving avenues for all sized manufacturers.  One of the leading international software developers in this field is Cabinet Vision. Sold and serviced in New Zealand by Phil Smith through his company Joinery It, Cabinet Vision offers a range of product levels to suit the small cabinetmaker through to those needing more advanced modelling technology. JOINERS Magazine spoke to several manufacturers who have purchased and are using Cabinet Vision about the effects it has had on their business. Cabinet Vision modules range from Solid Essential, which is aimed at entry level design and manufacture for small custom kitchen shops, across a number of modules to Solid Ultimate, top of the range software with advanced capabilities allowing you to take advantage of advanced solid modelling technology.

With Solid Essential as the drawing front end, users are able to produce high quality renderings, design their own library of cabinets and easily and quickly create assemblies and send production information to the shop floor.

Even at entry level Cabinet Vision allows the cabinetmaker to begin automated manufacturing by connecting with the CNC machine. Combining everything into one program helps reduce the need to be using multiple programs on one job. Intelligent small parts handling with nesting gives greater control of a jobs components and integrated labelling and reports ready those components for edging and assembly.

We spoke to several New Zealand manufacturers who have purchased Cabinet Vision about the sale process, the software’s performance and the service and backup from its Kiwi reseller.

When Mike Hill who owns Betta Kitchens in Greymouth decided early this year that he wanted to change his set up to nesting he chose an AscentPro CNC flatbed router from W & R Jacks and opted for Cabinet Vision as the operating software. He chose Solid Standard which is a couple of levels down from the top of the range but suitable for his needs and budget, with the potential to upgrade in the future.

“I chose Cabinet Vision after using it for a trial period because I really liked its flexibility which fits in with the varied nature of my work and where I want to take it in the future.” says Mike.

“I am using it from design to production and although being new to nesting and design software found I was reasonably competent within a couple of months. Once you have your library set up and start to build its contents, it is very easy to simply select what you want from that library. Phil Smith and Jason Chittenden (technical support) were a great help in setting this up for me, they are very professional and know their product really well. Phil set the system to suit my production requirements and Jason is always available on the phone and any queries have quickly been fixed via TeamViewer.

“The time saving in my production has been massive, I am really noticing not having to do things like designating drill and hinge positioning which is now all done for me. The software also makes for good marketing, with great visuals for my clients making their selection and decision making easier while giving me a more professional image.

It was definitely the way for me to go, it has improved my setup and also increased the scope of what I am comfortable with - I no longer feel a little perturbed when someone wants more complex designs involving curves and shapes.

Peter Robertson of Joinery Concepts in Christchurch had been looking at nesting for some time and made the move in April when he purchased a Biesse Skill CNC. He decided to go with Cabinet Vision because he had a staff member who had had some experience with it and liked it, but more importantly believed that Joinery It could provide the after sales service and support that he knew would be required.

This has proved to be the case. “Phil and Jason pick up the phone when you ring - that alone is a good start and their service both by remote viewer and on site has been excellent in assisting me through the early stages.”

Peter uses the programme personally and believes he is about half way to understanding or utilising it fully. “It’s really about time in the seat to work out what you need from the programme.”

He uses it from design through to production. “I used to do a pen and ink sketch for clients but now am able to simply do a quick sketch in PhotoVision. If the client accepts the design then I go back to fi ll in the details and in half an hour to an hour it is all done and ready to go. This saves immense time and really helps in the selling process - people need to visualise and they look at these design drawings and go - WOW yes please.

“I find the manner in which major suppliers hardware is available from the library very good - if you use Blum click on a button and there is Blum’s range of products, if you use Hettich or any of the other major brands it’s the same  - all there at the click of a button.

“It is also very easy to back track to check details or make changes everything is easily seen on the digital file, a lot easier than going back to check and redraw plans. And every job done increases and improves your library.

 “The nesting set up has made huge improvements to our productivity and fully justified our move in terms of expenditure,” says Peter.

“The machine itself is obviously a major part in this but you have to get the information to the machine and I am very pleased we chose Cabinet Vision and Joinery It to do this.”

Mike Pollett from Pollett Furniture in Napier has been running their CNC set up a little longer, they purchased an ICAM flat bed router about 4 years ago and for the first year ran it with a standard CAD drawing product but found it slow and labour intensive.

“Everything required drawing, placing and often redrawing, with Cabinet Vision everything is preset to the way you want it and the way you manufacturer.

“We chose Cabinet Vision because we wanted a real screen to machine package, Cabinet Vision had the versatility for the type of product and the production runs we deal with in commercial furniture.

“Back up was very important to us. With lots of variation in production we often need advice, sometimes just on small things such as a quirky corner on a piece of furniture. Our designers find it easy dealing with Jason online for things we can’t figure out. He is always available and with TeamViewer most issues are quickly solved.

“It is a good selling tool we have all the melteca colours in our library and are able to deliver real drawings to our clients very quickly for their approval or consideration.

“Our products are fairly complicated so the learning curve for our designers was not easy they probably took 6 months to become really competent. Also furniture hardware and componentry don’t feature in the preset library to the same extent as kitchen products and suppliers do, so we had to draw much of our own product and componentry. Joinery It were invaluable in assisting us in building this resource.

“For us it has been a good programme and a necessary move to stay competitive in the market.  I would recommend it and the Joinery It team. Their ongoing servicing has been fantastic, Jason is always available to give help whether it’s a couple of minutes via phone, or TeamViewer to solve a small issue or spending a session with a new staff member who needs to be bought up to speed on Cabinet Vision.
 

JOINERS Magazine September 2013 page 47

 


REBUILDING a City’s Kitchens

Misco Joinery, a family business run by Glenn Colenso and Mike Chernishoff has been operating from its semi-rural location in Marshlands, just out of Christchurch, since 1988 and currently design, manufacture and install around 20 kitchens a week, mostly new kitchens for builder clients.

They have considered themselves pretty lucky through both the recession and the quakes.  Work did slow says Glenn but we have some very loyal building company clients that kept the wheels turning and now we are so busy that we are referring work to other joiners.

The company runs a CNC nesting set up with a Biesse router and edgebander. While satisfying their current requirements they are in the process of upgrading to the latest generation Biesse to accommodate future expansion.

“We will keep our existing machinery,” says Glenn, “both for back up and parts but we are purchasing a new Biesse Skill 1836 and a Biesse Roxyl edgebander with a view to increasing our productivity and capacity. The edgebander will have a return system and we will be able to run both machines with just the one operator which will effectively save a man while also improving our through put speed.

“We use Cabinet Vision software from design to manufacture and have done so for a long time. Phil Smith (from Joinery It who supply Cabinet Vision) has been very good to deal with. We recently just added Cabinet Vision’s Label IT to our system for better tracking of parts and process, I talked to Phil, he hooked it all up, and it was sorted - it’s like having a good mechanic.

“We also use them if we need to add hardware to our library, for instance if Hafele bring out a new carousel or flap stay or whatever, we simply ring Joinery It, they get the specs off the Hafele people, include it in our library and it’s ready to go.

“The rebuild is only really starting to happen now and I think will maybe peak in 3-4 years and carry on for some time after that. We intend to capitalise on that by positioning ourselves to be part of it. Which means having the machinery, software, staff and systems in place.

“Staff is likely to be an ongoing issue as everybody gets busier, we are currently looking to take on 4 new staff and are likely to need more in the future. We look to employ local first and primarily need good staff with the right attitude to fi t in with our system and ethic. It’s not rocket science, the machinery and software largely do it all for you - you just need to ensure you have the right colour and right amount of panel.

 “The quakes have bought about a significant shift in the mind set of many of our clients.

Previously anyone looking to renovate or install a new kitchen wanted to do it and had planned for it, in the last couple of years people are installing kitchens because they have to. They have often undergone significant stress sorting out insurances, dealing with the earthquake commission and organising their rebuild, by the time they arrive at our designers desk they have often had enough of the whole process which means we have to be little more proactive with our advice and patient in letting them discover what they want.

“It is certainly an exciting time and a busy time for all of us - it’s not often you get to rebuild a city - it has obviously generated a lot of stress but has also shown the resilience of the people of Christchurch.”

As it turned out we visited Misco Joinery about a year early as they are currently in the process of building a new factory in Kaiapoi which they expect to move into complete with upgraded machinery next year. The move was planned prior to the quakes but would seem extra well timed now given what would seem to be a busy time ahead for the city’s kitchen manufacturers. We spoke to Glenn Colenso of Misco Joinery about their set up, the last couple of years and the coming rebuild.

Misco Joinery
80 Mairehau Rd
Christchurch
Ph 03 383 4384
www.misco.co.nz

 

JOINERS Magazine December 2013 page 30

 


Shifting Gear

The kitchen side of the business does around 30 kitchens a week and also manufactures office furniture, laundries and wardrobes. The restructure of the last few years has seen the company reduce staff to 27 down from 40 odd before the recession.

“By the time of the recession we had become a borderline corporate, a little too heavy in management with a too extensive product range. We had to downsize to survive so we reduced staff and consolidated our product range which resulted in us moving out of benchtop production, buying in our vinyl wrapped doors and contracting out the finishing part of our operation,” says Nathan Moore. 

“We suffered no real damage in the earthquakes, but things just stopped - we knew the work would come back and knew we needed to keep our staff. Fortunately we had some very good office furniture work much of it under contract for government departments and this and our branch in Blenheim allowed us to juggle our work and retain staff.

Now the business is flourishing and Hagley Kitchens are looking to expand in the New Year into an adjoining factory. “It will double our factory space and along with the purchase of new machinery will increase our capacity without the need for a lot of new staff – which we believe will set us up for the years ahead.

Hagley’s currently run two Biesse CNC routers one about 4 years old and the other about 6, along with a 12 year old Homag edgebander which is still doing a great job but will probably be replaced following the shift.

“We are likely to get a new CNC as well” say Nathan, “and it is likely to again be a Biesse as the two we currently run have been good machines and we have a good relationship with the Biesse guys.”

In anticipation of the new machinery Hagley Kitchens have also upgraded their software.

“We recently purchased Cabinet Vision from Joinery It. Previously we were using a range of software, one for design, a package we had developed ourselves for pricing, another for project management and then a further one for production. Cabinet Vision brings everything together and does it all at once - design, price, management, manufacture - with virtually all the input done at the design stage. We have only had it for four weeks and are merging with the old system rather than an overnight change but it is progressing well and we expect it to significantly improve flow through the factory.

“Things are starting to move now but still not anywhere near full steam. I believe rather than a boom we will see a sustained growth period for a decade or more as the city rebuilds and redefines itself.

“A big change for us has been a shift from retail to trade work. Prior to the quakes the majority of our kitchen work was retail now we are 80% trade. The reason for this is that the majority of work is being dished out to the housing companies from the insurance companies, and we simply follow in line.

“At times it can be difficult to fit in with the building process as their schedules can change significantly for all sorts of reasons, you just have to be flexible and have the production and storage capacity to fit in with them.

“It has been a very difficult time for all business in Christchurch and has required us all to look closely at all aspects and make changes.

However for those that have got through the recession and quakes, business looks positive and I believe we are in for a good run over the next decade.”

Hagley Kitchens have been in business for 30 years, the business was divided a couple of years ago with the separation of the aluminium side into a different company, part of a move that has seen Hagley Kitchens focus on its strengths and ready itself for the coming decade in Christchurch’s development. JOINERS Magazine spoke to General Manager Nathan Moore.

Hagley Kitchens
6 Nazareth Ave, Christchurch
Phone 03 961 0966
www.hagley.co.nz
 

JOINERS Magazine December 2013 page 31