Spanish Door Company Goes from Rough to Ready

Puertas Luvipol rough mills lumber and then machines it into a variety of interior and exterior door styles.

By Karen M. Koenig

 

 

Luvipol is the largest exporter of interior and exterior wood doors in Spain. The company sells its products worldwide through a network of distributors.

Brothers Vincente and Luis Puig Oliver started in the woodworking industry on the ground floor - literally.

"When we started, we were working for a flooring workshop in 1958. We were really beginners," says Vincente. "We weren't earning enough money, so we decided to start our own company."

They began the venture with one small machine and big dreams, he adds. "We made everything from furniture to bedroom windows. But in the mid 1960s there was a big demand for carpentry products and not enough supply - a demand especially to make doors."

By the late 1960s, the Crevillente (Alicante)-based Puertas Luvipol specialized exclusively in doors, primarily for residential facilities. "We started with only three models of doors. Today, we have more than 100 models," he says.

Luvipol is also the largest exporter of wood doors in Spain, selling its products worldwide direct to builders and through distributors located in the United States, Japan, Russia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands and China.

Rough Milling at the Sawmill

Hardwood lumber used to manufacture the doors is ripped, planed and cut-to-size in the company's 660,000-square-foot sawmill area in Granja de Rocamora, located a short drive from the main plant in Crevillente.

As recently as five years ago, Luvipol milled its lumber directly off the logs. However, due to a difficulty in purchasing the raw logs, the company switched to purchasing rough cut timber.

Approximately 25 percent of the lumber imported by Luvipol is from the United States, purchased from companies such as Memphis, TN-based G.B. & Associates Inc., which also supplies Luvipol with veneers. The remaining lumber is imported from a variety of countries including: Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Italy, and sources in South America and Africa.

Luvipol inventories approximately $8 million (U.S.) in lumber at its plant, says Vincente Puig, sawmill manager. "We can't buy our lumber on a just-in-time basis because of the drying time needed," explains Puig. "If it dries too fast, the lumber can crack," Puig says. The company has 20 dry kilns in continuous use for drying the lumber. Because of the area's moderate climate, air drying is another option. However, depending on the species, it can sometimes take up to one year before the lumber reaches the correct moisture content, he adds.

After drying, the lumber is sent to a Comec gang ripsaw where it is cut to the proper width for both interior and exterior door components. Pieces are then cut to length on an Omga TR2-A chop saw.

Unlike the stiles which are machined and glued in the main plant, the rails are planed to 2 cm on an Argentia SA planer, sanded and calibrated on an IMA Abebay sander and glued while still at the sawmill. A six-head Weinig moulder is also used to machine the door components. Rails are then transported by truck to the manufacturing facility for processing into door frames.

Stiles, on the other hand, are planed and sanded at the manufacturing facility on a Sierras Alavesas planer and sander. The stiles are glued then placed into a high frequency Cortazar-Vitoria press and profiled on one of the company's custom-designed moulders at the manufacturing facility.

Manufacturing the Doors

Lumber and other rough-milled parts are shipped directly from the sawmill to the 180,000-square-foot manufacturing plant on a just-in-time basis. Pine is the most frequently used species at Luvipol; in addition to its popularity for the door panels, it is also used for many of the doors' interior components.

Not every species is universally popular. While red oak is often requested for doors sold in the United States, it loses in popularity to white oak in Europe. "Since red oak is not common in Europe, there is sometimes trouble in matching the mouldings," explains Jose Sarabia, export manager at Luvipol. Sapele and beech, as well as a variety of exotic veneers, are also used in many of the doors.

 

Luvipol Earns Green Certification

At Puertas Luvipol, green is good. The company is cashing in on the fact that it is the first Spanish door company to receive green certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, a move which has helped set it apart from its competitors.

"We first looked into it two years ago. We (talked) with our lumber sources about one year ago and pushed hard to get the certificate," says Jose Sarabia, export manager at Luvipol. The Crevillente (Alicante)-based company obtained the SGS-COC 0339 chain of custody certificate from the FSC in November 1999.

As part of the certification, the company tracks all of the lumber used in both the sawmill and door manufacturing process. Luvipol is green certified for all of its pine and is working to certify all of its ash, birch and red and white oaks.

"Our goal is to use 100 percent certified lumber," Sarabia says. "

Along with its FSC certification, Luvipol is also the only Spanish door manufacturer forming part of the WWF/ADENA-Group 2000 Programme, an association of purchasers of certified wood in charge of promoting demand and covering offers for certified forestry products.

The group developed a world quality seal which certifies the use of wood from forests where a reforestation program is enforced.

- Karen Koenig

Doors are typically constructed of veneer overlaid onto either a laminated (glued) wood core (the Master Series) or MDF core (Luvi Style). Luvipol uses Mediland and Finsa MDF, which has been cut to 3,660mm by 2,070mm on a Steton panel saw using one vertical and one horizontal blade.

According to Sarabia, the internal structure of the doors is supported by a framework of pine stiles and cross rails made from laminated (glued) wood, which are tenoned together to form a solid joint.

PVA adhesive, applied with a custom-made glue spreader, is used to adhere the framework to the core. The door frame is then sent to one of the company's seven Termoelettronica (Orento) Torino high-frequency presses for curing.

Just recently, Luvipol released a new lightweight MDF door. Called PreLac, the door differs from other MDF core models in that, rather than a solid core, it has a "grille" of MDF components, providing it with sturdiness and stability, but without the weight.

"It's made using a unique process that we developed so it is not heavy like a solid MDF door," says Pablo Puig, export manager. "We put an MDF door skin on top, then the veneer. As with the other doors, the panel is pressed and then the edges and surfaces are sanded (on a DMC sander.)

"The sides are a solid construction, so you can put locks on," he adds.

This new MDF door will be price competitive with commercial doors constructed with a particleboard core, thus providing the company with a price-competitive product to the particleboard core doors already in the hotel market, Puig adds.

Cell Production

The actual production of the doors takes place in a cell environment.

"Employees are cross-trained and work in teams within the production cell," says Domingo Gomez Pedre+�¦o, production manager. Although quality control engineers are on duty each shift to check the parts, each team also performs its own quality control checks, he adds.

In the production cells, the faces and edges of the panel are sanded and then veneered. Luvipol cuts and stitches the veneer in-house using three Kuper veneer stitchers, a Monguzzo guillotine and a Pigato Bruno Maccine.

Luvipol is unique in that it uses a two-layer veneer construction on its door panels. In the first layer, 0.8mm-thick hardwood veneer is laid crossways of the direction of the stiles and rails. Next, a second sheet of veneer measuring 0.6mm thick and of the same species, is placed in the direction of the grain. "Although it means more work, it eliminates the possibility of the veneer checking," Sarabia says. The veneered board is then placed into one of the company's 16 custom-made double-platen veneer presses, and pressed for 45 minutes.

For aesthetics, the same species used on the main panels is also used in the edging. The panels are finished with mouldings and trimwork machined on CNC routers and custom-made moulders. In addition to the ANDI NC-1526X which is used to rout curves into the rails, Luvipol has two additional six-head ANDI NC routers and a Shinx four-head CNC router for machining of parts.

Finishing Touches

Doors are varnished in a separate facility located just a few blocks from the manufacturing plant. The shop is certified ISO 9002 and should pass its ISO 14001 certification for ecology this year.

In addition to the finishing area which is 27,500 square feet, the building hosts an additional 8,800-square foot area for recycling, loading and unloading.

Prior to finishing, the edges of panels are sanded on a Holz-Her edge sander, while the top and bottom sheets are sanded on two Sandingmaster widebelt sanders. A Fratelli Tonelli brush cleaner removes any excess dust and debris which may be clinging to the sanded panels.

According to Louis Puig, manager of the varnishing shop, two coats of lacquer and varnish, 0.5 mil each, are typically applied to each side of the doors. After each application, the door is sanded with an eight-head A Spema A/S sander.

The actual finishing procedure is done on either the company's year-old Cattinair CNC Rotoclean system or a Cefla system, which it purchased three years ago. Luvipol has an older Sorbini finishing system which is also used. Touch-up spraying is done with a Graco Airmix pump sprayer.

"We added the Rotoclean for its multiple uses," Puig says. "It's a CNC system, so all you have to do is program the quantity of lacquer you want, the weight, the number of coats, and it will measure and spray it automatically," he adds.

After finishing, panels are placed in an isolated room with an air make-up system and dried for one hour. They are then moved to one of three 3,230-square-foot temperature-controlled rooms to complete their drying time.

After finishing, the doors are inspected for quality control. A second check is performed by inspectors in the quality control department.

Within the department are Costa widebelt sanders and Cosma 1300 sanders which can be used to sand any rough spots on the doors. If the problem cannot be fixed easily, then the door is sent back to the main production area.

"We want the perfect door for our customers," says Sarabia.

For more information on Luvipol, visit its Web site at www.luvipol.com

 

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