To many of their friends in the business John and Rose Murphy are known as the “boxologists” because of all the steps they use in the process of building cabinets. They have very precise systems governing construction techniques, and all parts flow through the shop in the same order.

Their company, John Murphy Millwork, makes everything from institutional casework for schools and hospitals to trim and matched paneling for court rooms, city council chambers, and high-end tenants. High-end residential cabinets and trim are also a part of the total production.

The Erie, Colo., company is also known for its complex and curved casework, reception desks and moulding. The company’s engineers allow them to produce special pieces in very tight time frames.

“We pride ourselves at being able to do everything that is thrown our way,” says Rose Murphy. The company has 18 employees and 18,000 square feet of total space. John Murphy runs the plant and Rose Murphy functions as general manger/estimator.

Improving panel processing

To better handle what’s thrown their way, John Murphy Millwork recently added a Hirzt throughfeed point-to-point machine to their production process. It is used for boring of most panel parts for cabinet line case sides, drawer sides and case floors.

“Previously, the work was done on our Biesse Rover 30 flat table,” John Murphy says. “The Hirzt machine solved a couple of problems for us. It reduced our material handling time. We can process a part in one minute including load and unload. It took far longer on the Rover.

“The Rover process involved taking one part, stepping on to one of the safety zones, squaring and vacuuming the part, waiting for the machine to clear the opposite field, and squaring and vacuuming the next part in the opposite field.”

The Hirtz Livra machine is also equipped with a laser measuring system that measures the part length and adjusts construction holes to match, providing perfect fitting parts. It is a big savings in assembly and improved the quality. Another plus is that it takes very little to train someone to run the Livra. An unexpected benefit was the dramatic savings in electrical usage. Murphy’s electric bill dropped $300 per month.

“Now we can utilize the Rover to do what it does best, complicated routing, without delaying box part production,” John Murphy says.

The addition of the Hirzt machine also has sped up the entire case construction line.

“The speed of the Hirzt Livra puts pressure on the other stations to keep up,” John Murphy says. “It has really changed how our shop runs.”

There are two different flow patterns in the shop, panel processing, and solid wood processing. Flow through the shop is controlled by labels created by Pattern Systems Product Planner. The label describes the part, size, operations required, and its location by cabinet, room number and project number.

Machines in the panel processing line in order of flow are: Selco EB110 panel saw, Akron 440 edgebander, Hirzt Livra feedthrough point-to-point, Omal dowel inserter, Biesse Rover 30 flat table point-to-point, and, Murphy’s first point to point, the Alberti A11.

Assembly and finishing

After the machining process parts go to the hardware table and then to the assembly line or to the custom areas. The solid wood line starts with a Northtec SRS12 straight-line rip saw, SCM Logic 23 five-head moulder, Biesse Regal 300 three-head widebelt sander, Whirlwind saw with TigerFence and software, US Concepts curved moulder, Mikron multimoulder, and Larick 390 shaper.

John Murphy Millwork can also do finishing in its plant, and has a booth, three air-assisted airless guns and pumps, as well as assorted cup guns and pots.

“Large quantities of mouldings are done on our in-line sprayer,” John Murphy says. “We also have a Sherwin Williams stain mixing station and programs giving us the ability to match any color. Our finisher mixes all stains when using catalyzed varnish. We are also spraying LEED-approved water-based finishes. Currently we have the water based stains mixed by one of our suppliers.”

In addition to the economy, Rose Murphy says there are two challenges for the company.

“(We need to) keep our workers sharp, focused and efficient when times are a little slower,” he says. “And we have to keep up with a surprising increase in the volume of residential projects.”

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