Josh Dunn used to produce just enough work to keep six cabinet assemblers busy. These days, however, he needs even more help, since it now takes “seven or eight guys to keep up” as a result of automating router operations.
Dunn is the general manager of Accurate Laminated Products, an architectural casework and millwork firm in Placentia, CA, 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Dunn’s father, Dan, started the business 26 years ago.
The reason Accurate Laminated Products needs additional man power is because of a 15% increase in production, resulting from the installation of new Praxis CNC router, from Italian manufacturer SCM Group, late last year.
With 40 employees and 2013 sales of $7 million, Accurate Laminated Products business centers operations around fabricating and installing high-end casework and architectural millwork in Orange County and Los Angeles County, around the state’s biggest city. The company also seeks business further away from its plant, traveling hours to clients in the region.
“We also do work in Riverside, and sometimes San Diego and Ventura,” Dunn says. The firm works strictly with commercial clients, serving the new construction, office improvement and medical facilities industries. “We don’t do any residential work,” he explains, nor does it play in the retail or housing spaces.
Accurate Laminated Products offers a mix of product types, from standard laminates (plastics from Formica, Nevamar, Pionite and Wilsonart) to wood veneers and solid woods, including bamboo, cedar, mahogany, maple, oak and pine as well as more sustainable woods certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
“About 80 percent of our jobs are wood veneer,” Dunn says, citing the common installation example of a tenant reception desk along with copy-room cabinets.
In 2007, Accurate Laminated Products invested in its first computer-controlled CNC (computer numerical control) cutting machine: a Pratix 4x8-foot flat table model router from SCM Group. Automated technology and fast speeds are nothing new in the shop.
So why the double-digit boost in production lately? The efficiency enhancement can be attributed to the new Pratix N15 model, purchased last summer while in Las Vegas attending the the Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers Fair 2013.
“We didn’t even look at the competition” when Accurate Laminated Products shopped for its second router last year, says Dunn, based the decision on its positive experience with SCM’s service and support over the past seven years.
5x12 vs. 4x8
“The new Pratix router is faster and has a larger table, yet it still takes up the same amount of square footage as previous 4x8-foot model,” Dunn says.
The 5x12-foot table size in a compact footprint is a win-win investment for the tight quarters in Accurate Laminated Products’ 5,000-square-foot shop. It enables enables the output of larger cabinets, and greater volume, in a typical two-shift, 60- to 80-hour work week. In other words, because it cuts larger sheets, its nested delivery translates into more pieces for the architectural woodworking projects such as reception desks, and for the corresponding cabinetry and casegoods.
The challenge now, Dunn says, is for assembly operations to keep up with the Praxis. As volume rises on various projects, Accurate Laminate Products increases its assembly crew by as much as 25%, depending on job volume.
Dunn is dedicated to maintaining a stable flow of work for Accurate Laminated Products’ workforce, and keeping his accomplished, skilled crew intact. For him, faster, more automated production technologies do not pose a threat to the skills of craftsmen.
“We are never going to fire people,” he says. “We’re going to go out there and get more work.”
Typical Workflow at Accurate Laminated Products
The average length of time required to complete a cabinet job at Accurate Laminated Products is about six weeks, from start to finish, according to General Manager Josh Dunn. Because of the versatile capabilities of its new SCM Pratix N15 CNC router, installed in November 2013, “There is very little secondary machining,” Dunn says. The firm follows these seven steps to move a typical job through its facility:
1. Bid job to a general contractor.
2. Obtain shop drawings and/or artist renderings from the architect.
3. Measure field conditions to verify dimensions.
4. Engineering department optimizes production per machine.
5. Cabinets go to the custom department, where parts are cut on the CNC router.
6. Carts move the cabinets to edgebander, then on to assembly tables where hardware is applied.
7. Finished cabinets are loaded on truck for delivery and on-site installation.
Once on site, Accurate Laminated Products chooses from its 12 full-time installers, some of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years. It also has five part-timers made up of journeymen and apprentices.
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