|Mannington Mills specializes in laminate and engineered hardwood flooring. Raja Slate laminate tiles provide a multi-hued look and slightly higher gloss levels than grout lines, for an authentic texture.|
Flooring Plants in High Point, NC
One of the largest flooring companies in the United States, Mannington Mills is the only North American company engaged in the manufacturing and marketing of resilient, laminate, hardwood and porcelain tile floors, as well as commercial vinyl and carpet. The company’s hardwood and laminate flooring facilities are located minutes apart in High Point, NC. Founded in 1915, the company is privately held.
1. Having the hardwood and laminate flooring facilities located near each other has allowed the company to maximize its design and marketing resources by offering complementing colors and patterns.
2. Mannington recently completed multi-million dollar upgrades which have enabled it to improve production and profitability.
3. Mannington avoids the commodity market by selling its flooring products through a distribution chain of 7,000 United States and Canadian retail stores.
“When the light is just right, you can see the hand-scraping on it,” Dryden says. The same is true of the knotholes' surface.
Laminate planks are sold in widths of 5, 8, 12 and 16 inches. Although half of today's sales continue to be the traditional, 8-inch-wide wood design, embossed but not an embossed-in-register product, the aged look with its “hand-scraping,” thermofoiled edges and 5-inch- wide boards is growing in popularity, being used not only in hickory and cherry designs, but in eight others as well.
In addition to natural wood products, designers of Mannington's laminate flooring are inspired by porcelain tiles and natural stone. “Keep in mind, we're also in the porcelain business, importing porcelain tile from all over the world,” says Dryden.
The stone and tile designs come in 12- and 16-inch widths, in a wide variety of patterns. For example, the 16-inch Raja Slate collection includes 24 different laminate “tiles.” Another 16-inch collection includes 20 tiles arranged in a modular format, a popular look today in real stone.
Investments in Production
In recent years, both the hardwood and laminate operations have invested heavily in equipment to help them reproduce complicated designs with speed and precision. The highly automated equipment is also labor-saving. High Point's hardwood operation now has 199 employees, Epes has 143 and the High Point laminate operation has 83.
With the $25 million reorganization and upgrade in the hardwood operation, capacity remains the same, at 50 million square feet, Brown says. What has been gained, he adds, is “a more efficient way to produce that.”
At the High Point facility, a high-speed Torwegge tenoner has been added for use with the plant's two Weinig moulders. The additional production capability and accuracy helps the company's current, as well as future, needs, Brown says.
A new, fully-automated optimizing line also was installed to handle any hardwood reworks. A computerized System TM chop saw recognizes marked defects, cuts the boards to a smaller, defect-free length and a Doucet profiler is used for tongue-and-groove operations. All manual feeding and about half the grading formerly devoted to reworks has been eliminated, Brown says.
Brown adds that the upgrade and reorganization at the hardwood flooring facility has positioned the company to be able to double capacity when it becomes needed. “We're positioned now to do a much better job against anybody who wants to bring [competing] product in,” he says.
The laminate flooring facility, likewise, has repositioned itself for a strong future. A $10 million upgrade in 2005 was prompted by Mannington's entry into embossed-in-register panels, where annual capacity now is at 40 million square feet. The capacity for non-embossed register product is estimated between 65 to 70 million square feet. The laminate operation earned ISO 9001 certification in 2003, and is among the few NC-based operations to be part of OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program, Dryden says.
Similar to those found in the hardwood facility, at the laminate plant a camera system checks and positions the products throughout various stages of production. For example, the camera will be used to position the press plates so that the WemhÃÂ¶ner press' points precisely fit the design on the dÃÂ¨cor paper.
The cameras also will take into account the expansion on the outer edges of the laminate board during pressing, and make adjustments for where the saw blades are to cut. Otherwise, Dryden says, “what you'd end up with would be little grouts and big grouts.”
Both plants also use a computer-controlled measurement system for quality control. “From our intake of raw materials to the product going out the door, everything is control charted,” says Dryden.
Samples are pulled at frequent intervals and subjected to electronic measurement that can not only spot a bad board, but can tell whether it is an isolated incident or “part of a trend.” Prior to having the electronic system in place, an operator would adjust the machine whenever a bad board was found, Brown says. Now, with the system, machines are adjusted only when a trend appears. “You want to let it run,” he adds.
Dryden says that the computerized quality control measurement “has made a huge, huge difference in our quality. It takes out the human differential.” The upgrades of the last several years, he adds, “definitely make us more competitive.”
|The Broad River Hickory line exemplifies the hand-rubbed, hand-scraped appearance which is very popular in today’s hardwood flooring lines.||Doug Brown, vice president of operations in the hardwood division, stands by a pallet of panels waiting to be cut.|
|Sam Dryden, director of operations in Mannington's laminate division, inspects a profiled board.||An employee readies the hardwood boards for machining by the Torwegge tenoner.|
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