For Style Line, the best expansion was one they didn't make.

Style Line Cabinet & Top Co. in Lockport, Ill., was planning a 50,000 square foot expansion just before Sept. 11, 2001. They never followed through, and they're glad they didn't.

That's when Mike Rutz explains that the company started moving toward new machinery ( see video ). The resulting efficiency gains allowed them to get rid of the inventory of mouldings they had to keep. "Since we didn't have to carry all of that inventory, we gained extra space," he says.

"We used to have many carts of mouldings, now we only have the material that will run," he says. "We don't have stacks of profiles, only the wood needed for a particular job."

The ripsaw and moulder have also helped Style Line slim down in the slower economy. "We now only keep about 1,000 to 2,000 board feet of our most popular species instead of tens of thousands of lineal feet of mouldings and solid stock, as we did before," Rutz says.

Faster programming  

The process starts when Style Line downloads cut files from CabinetVision to MillVision. Millvision sends the material list to the gang rip saw, the moulder and the cutoff saw. On smaller jobs the order is combined for the best yield. MillVision also made programming the ripsaw faster and simpler than before.

Style Line has benefitted from optimization. The panel saw and machining center's gains in material usage have paid for the machines themselves. Normally, 15/16 inch solid stock for door and face frame parts is brought in and is stripped down to 13/16 inch.

A Giben front-load panel saw was the first step for shelves and cabinet backs. (Another saw suffered the fate of being struck by lightning.) Interior shelving is laminated particleboard and drawer boxes are dovetail plywood with solid wood as an upgrade.

A Busellato Jet 400RT flat-table machining center cuts everything else that was cut on the panel saw, plus jobs that were done on a previous point-to-point. A Morbidelli machining center does most cutting, all fluting, any kind of arch rails, and any decorative work.

Ripping, moulding and cutoff  

Raimann ProfiRip KM 310M straight line rip saw is used with MillVision for all solid wood material such as mouldings, door panels and frame stock. "You place the board there and it optimizes the best yield by the width of the board, moving the blades into position at the same time the fence is moving to position on our fixed pockets. We keep two fixed pocket widths along with the moveable blade that gives us up to three cuts per board," Rutz says.

The ValueRip III infeed system provides the ability to enter cutlists from CabinetVision into the Value Rip that the Raimann reads.

Pieces are cut 1/8 inch wider to go through the Powermat 1000 moulder, which is set up for S4S. Style Line uses stackable diamond tooling on the side cutters, and insert tooling on the top head cutters, so changing from one profile to another takes only a few minutes.

After moulding, pieces go into the OptiCut S90 cutoff saw. A Matthews inkjet label printer marks each component. Defects are marked and the saw reads the length as it is reading the defect marks. On the outfeed table four kickers sort the parts by size, job number or parts name, and trim pieces go directly to a garbage can.

"The automatic labeling and sorting have been a great time saver, and with the help of MillVision one person can operate all three machines and keep up with the rest of the shop," Rutz says.

The shop also has a Whirlwind saw with TigerStop positioning system and Kreg pocket machine for cutting holes for screws to put face frame pieces together. To glue up panel stock, a Rosenquist RF glue press replaced a clamp carrier.

Setups on the DMC Unisand K programmable four-head sander are done on the screen. Each department has a program for each process they're doing at the time.

Also here are a Unique programmable shaper and an Accu-Systems MMTJ used to cut mortise and tenons. A Doucet Doormaster revolving door rack is used for all doors. A Scientific Dust Collection system is also used.

Assembly and finishing  

In the assembly area, solid wood parts from the ripsaw and moulder and parts from the panel saw and CNC machining enter come together. About 95 percent of work is face frame. In this area are an Omec 750 CN dovetailer, and a Holz-Her Sprint 1417 edgebander, used for edging shelves, drawer sides and closet systems.

A Renz Borgonovo embosser is also used. Pieces are fed through the machine and squeezed under a heavy wheel which embosses the impression of a rope moulding on the door stile. Style Line makes laminate countertops, but is outsourcing all granite and solid surface.

Stains are sprayed and then wiped by hand. A precat lacquer is applied with airless spray guns. When material is dry it is sent through the Quickwood sander to scuff the doors for recoating.

Customers used to be 90 percent new construction. Now remodeling accounts for about 90 percent of business. The changes have helped the company handle that work more efficiently.

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