When Spruce Creek Cabinetry Inc., in Port Orange, Fla., switched from being a customer-direct to a wholesale cabinet manufacturer, its goal was to remove the problems inherent in dealing with consumers and concentrate on manufacturing. That translated into a switch from face-frame cabinets to frameless and a whole new way of building cabinets, says owner Dean Rose.

 

Now the focus is on making the production process as efficient and seamless as possible by incorporating software from the beginning of the ordering process to the finished job. SCC builds cabinets that it sells wholesale to other cabinet companies for use in kitchens, medical offices and displays.

 

"The software is the heart of the operation," says Rose. "Without that, you're not going to get that kind of flow going through the shop."

 

Speaking the same language

In 1994 Spruce Creek Cabinetry began buying its first CNC machines. The company's first beam saw was a Holzma HPP-81 and the machining center was a Busellato. The saw worked with the Cut Rite software, says Rose, but he did not have the machining center communicating with the software the company was using.

 

"We started realizing that to get all this software working together, it's easier if you deal with one company," says Rose.

 

As a result the company has a lot of CNC equipment a Holzma rear-loading beam saw, a Weeke Optimat BP150 point-to-point machining center, a Weeke BEK100 dowel machining center and a Homag edgebander. All these machines speak the same language, so the software is working at its maximum efficiency.

 

"I give Stiles a lot of credit, especially with the Cut Rite software," says Rose. "They really have an excellent support staff. They've made our job much easier."

 

The newest software addition to the company is from 20/20, which recently purchased BuildRite software from Stiles Machinery. SCC is developing its own 20/20 catalog that will allow customers to design their jobs in 20/20 and e-mail them directly to Spruce Creek, where jobs can be run directly through without the order entry process it now does.

 

Eliminating a step

"It's going to cut time. It'll save us a step in order entry," says Rose.

 

The company's catalog was built new from 20/20. "It's a combination of setting up our system to work with their system and working out the bugs," says Rose.

 

Before implementing 20/20, Spruce Creek would receive a faxed order, which would then be run through the company's product library built in Build Rite. "We'd pick the cabinets and add all the variables, the colors, width, height and depth and when that's done, it's ready to manufacture," says Rose.

 

With 20/20, the customer receives a disk with the company catalog on it, including prices, from which he orders and e-mails the job to SCC. The only thing the customer needs to have is the 20/20 Design program, which Rose says is common in the industry.

 

Once the order is in, BuildRite processes the information from 20/20, breaks down all the larger 3-D modeled parts into components and determines all the machining needed. Parts then move to Cut Rite, which is the manufacturing part of the software.

 

"I double check everything that goes through here," says Rose. "It's very simple. You hit the button in here and it goes out through the machine. They really can't make a mistake in the shop unless they load the wrong part."

 

Rose maintains the system, adding cabinets to the existing library. Tracy Hosford does the bulk of the day-to-day entry and runs Cut Rite as well.

 

Machining process

When the beam saw operator picks up a job for the shop, he gets a parts list of that job and the patterns for the saw. The plant works with 4 x 8 sheets of either melamine particleboard or plywood and they're all optimized. The operator begins by punching up the job number at the saw and the job will come up with the patterns that match what he has in front of him and tells him what type of panel to load.

 

A printer at the saw prints up the labels with barcode. Once pieces are cut, the operator applies the label and puts the part on the conveyor system that moves parts through the plant.

 

The barcode is scanned by the machining center operator. If vertical holes are required, the part is put on the machining center and processed. If horizontal holes are required for doweling, the part is sent to the doweling machine. Finally, the part is edgebanded before it moves into the assembly area.

 

The edgebander is the newest piece of equipment in the mix. Before the new edgebander arrived, the company had to adjust for the edgebanding. Now, the edgebander has a pre-milling station that removes the amount of material equivalent to the edgebanding and provides a smooth edge for the application.

 

Boxes are clamped with a Woodma clamping machine. SCC uses Grass hinges and hardware as well as the Zargon drawer system. If wood drawers are requested, the plant will build a doweled wood box constructed from maple plywood. Wood doors come from Georgia Hardwoods and thermofoil doors come from Thermoform. Cabinet extras, such as lazy susans, are from Rev-A-Shelf.

 

Tweaking the system

"When we first started doing this, we optimized everything to get the most out of the material," says Rose. The program, for example, would put small parts in the pattern in a way that would lengthen the cutting time. "So we took those out of the equation," he says. "Sometimes optimizing takes more time and it turns out it's cheaper to waste a little more material because you can cut them faster. So, we now use a different optimizer on those specific parts, which places them on different cut patterns."

 

There is a lot of flexibility built into the system, which gives the company the versatility to do just about anything, says Rose. He just programs whatever he wants to build in the same way he does a cabinet. "When it does hit the shop, it goes through the same way."

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