A new CNC machining center with the ability to apply labels on the router table before nesting has helped boost panel processing capability for Desco Professional Builders, Inc.
The company makes both architectural millwork and commercial casework in two buildings in Ellington, Connecticut.
A new Morbidelli Author M400 CNC router, bought at AWFS last year, has label making, and automatic load and unload features. Shane Bruscoe, general manager, describes this as a heavy-duty “three-shift” machine that Desco uses to full advantage.
As I chronicle our journey of acquiring and implementing our CNC machine, no story would be complete without a rundown of our fails. Early on, these failures come often and can be kind of demoralizing.
“At the show, it was difficult because there were so many machines, so many specs. We were trying to find the Toyota Camry of cars,” Bruscoe said. “We didn’t want a Kia. This Morbidelli is so much heavier, stronger and smoother sounding.
Desco still has a Busellato Jet 400RT CNC router (bought in 2007) used for mouldings and similar work. Today, one person can operate both Morbidelli and the edgebander.
“It’s the speed it can cut,” Bruscoe said. “On the Busellato we had to load each piece by hand. We had a lift over there, and each person would stop to label. Auto load and auto label helps increase capacity. All the operator has to do is take the parts off.”
The higher capacity is important for Desco. The company is doing much larger jobs than it did a few years ago. They are making architectural millwork and commercial casework for general contractors or construction managers. Some 20 years ago, Desco started making its own cabinets primarily for its own general contracting needs, then automated its shop to handle larger quantities.
A lot of the work is for public buildings, colleges, health care, courts, and fire stations. They also did a lot of libraries in the past. About 90 percent of business is in Connecticut and Massachusetts, with a few national accounts.
For Amherst College, Desco did 305 closets with quartersawn white oak interiors and casing, along with 10,000 square feet of wall paneling for student lounges and common areas. Another school job required close to 10 miles of trim.
Desco can do the more complicated custom products, making casework when it is required to be part of the job, and the casework side can make 30 cabinets in a day. On the custom side of things, work is designed and built from scratch on one of the benches, and can include solid wood, custom shapes and trim.
Microvellum software application is used for casework and cabinet box construction. Alphacam is used for the custom millwork and specialty work.
The automatic labeling system on the Morbidelli Author M400 F nesting cell applies labels on the single shapes that will be cut from the panel before entering the working station. The sheet is labeled before being nested.
The system applies the labels in the proper location not to be machined while a sheet is being nested so this function is done away from a dusty environment. This system allows the operator to be unloading without applying labels and making a mistake applying the wrong label to a component.
The labels Desco uses may include as many as six barcodes for various downstream production routines (horizontal boring, edgebanding, etc.) The job itself has a barcode for each sheet before it arrives at the CNC router. Barcoded pieces are stacked in the order the assembler needs them.
“Everything is barcoded to the cabinet being loaded,” Bruscoe said.
Also in the casework area are an Omal Insert 1300 dowel inserter, Weima grinder, Brandt edgebander with Doucet return table, two Uhlig HP3000 case clamps, and two SawStop table saws. A box assembly area and a Schmalz vacuum lift for the Buesellato are also in the casework shop.
Desco also can do countertops and has solid surface capability. A new, large dust collection system was installed in February with spark detection.
In a separate nearby building, custom work and special jobs are handled by six cabinetmakers. Desco can produce its own mouldings on the Busellato CNC router, rather than cutting knives on the shaper. Albert Royce, engineering, can do the program in 15 to 20 minutes. They will sub out smaller quantities of mouldings to Rex Lumber. A new machine in the custom area is a Hoffman bowtie joiner machine.
Desco is doing finishing in a booth in the custom area. The company has 48 employees, with 24,000 square feet of space at the Ellington site. Bruscoe said that Desco may add 8 to 10,000 square feet of new space. That will allow for another increase in capacity.
Bidding and employment are also challenges for Desco. Shane Bruscoe wins about 50 percent of bids, which is high. “We’re bidding larger projects, and you weed out the guys in garages, the shops with bad names,” he said. “Big companies know who they are and they’re not going to use them. It’s the smaller G.C.’s that cut the number to get the job and are willing to risk it.”
“I used to always hear, ‘You’re 20 percent high,’ I don’t hear that now with the economy improving.
“It’s also smart bidding. I don’t bid to people who don’t have the job, unless it’s someone I have a relationship with. The typical millwork shop will get an invite from someone they don’t know and they’ll stop and bid the job. Odds of getting that job are about 1 in 100, The only way you’re getting that job is if you made a mistake. Or they’re going to use your number to go against their guy.”
“I have relationships with almost all the G.C.’s we deal with. On the Amherst College job we went there with them. One of biggest things here is customer service. 99 percent of people we work for are happy at the end of the day.”
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