It’s no secret that the key to innovation is doing something different, but for Randy Deem that’s really all that sparked the idea for his Anvil Motion kitchen cabinet system. Bringing programmed automation to kitchen cabinetry, the system recently won the WMIA Innovator of the Year award.

“We just wanted to do something different,” Deem recalls. “How can you make cabinets different? The only thing anybody’s come up with is a few little trinkety things like carvings and such. We came up with the idea of a panel of doors going up into a docking spot. Then we went to a patent attorney to see if there was anything else like there. Nothing was even close.”

A complete motion system

Sliding vertical automatic doors are the foundation of the Anvil Motion system, but it’s really just a part of a fully integrated system. A software program and controller developed by AMX Software allows programming scenes in the kitchen. For example, for the baking setting, the program automatically opens all the doors covering the ovens, flour, sugar, baking pans, mixer, etc. All cabinets and appliances can be completely concealed or they can be opened either automatically from the remote controller or by simply waving a hand over a motion sensor or just touching a wall-mounted push plate.

In presenting the WMIA Innovator award for Anvil Motion, Michael Cassell, WMIA member and Holz-Her North American CNC production manager, lauded the new system. “It comprises the most sophisticated biometric technology to set the lighting, audio/video equipment and room temperature requirements of the specific individual entering the kitchen,” says Cassell. “Access to cabinets housing proscribed contents such as prescriptions, liquor and valuables, can be similarly secured.”

Vertical doors slide on off-the-shelf tracks, but Deem partnered with Peterson MFC to design pulleys and other features. Servo motors that operate the system are all tied to a computer. “It’s all really smooth working and smart,” says Deem.

Paired with the Anvil Motion vertical doors in all the upper cabinets are Grass Sensotronic drawers in the base cabinets. That makes for a fully automated kitchen motion system.

Precision required

All of that motion hardware puts a serious demand on precise construction of the cabinetry. “One of the big manufacturing challenges was we had all the machines calibrated to be more accurate than factory specs because of the low tolerances,” says Deem.

The company uses a Holz-Her CNC machine and a Giben beam saw. Both of those were set up for maximum accuracy, and Deem says that paid off in construction. “When we put this together the very first time, everything went together exactly right, and it functioned perfectly,” he says.

“Anvil Motion has produced the first fully automated and integrated system using automated machines and software to send jobs from ‘the screen to the machine,” says Holz-Her’s Cassell.

Targeting high-end market

An Anvil Motion kitchen is not a low-cost option. Deem says the price point for an Anvil Motion kitchen ranges between $2,000 and $4,000 per lineal foot. At that price, there is more than sophisticated automation involved.

“Because we build and market for some real high end homes, we went far beyond what you normally would do for finish,” says Deem. “Dark wood requires 19 steps of finishing. The rustic island in our showroom took 16 steps.”

Marketing for the new system is primarily through designers and architects.

Long career

Anvil Motion caps a long career in construction and manufacturing for Deem. He started in the industry back in 1974 and worked two years in a cabinet shop. Then he became a general contractor and spent three decades building houses and installing cabinets he bought from other sources.

In 1996, he said he was discouraged by what was available to him from cabinet suppliers, so he launched his own cabinet shop. The operation soon expanded complete with a sales team, eclipsing much of his contracting work. Currently, there are 35 people in the operation, and the plant fills 30,000 square feet.

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