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CNC moulder helps put Woodsmith on time.


A healthy backlog of orders is normally considered a good sign for a business. But for Drew Jones, president of Homer, La.-based Woodsmith Inc., the yeoman's effort regularly expended by his millmen to keep pace with customer orders was symptomatic of a manufacturing operation in need of repair.

"In order to meet demand for up to one million feet of finished product per month, I was working my people 60 hours a week, going up to 12 hours straight without a break," said Jones, who founded his business in 1984 with four employees, two moulders and a keen eye for quality. "I didn't know the industry well and no competitor was going to tell me, but I did know that I had to have more efficient machinery."

In 1986, Jones purchased a Weinig U22AL five-spindle jointed moulder and a Rondamat 931 grinding unit. Soon the new moulder was out-producing his original equipment by three times; setup, which once took hours, was reduced to as little as 31 minutes.

"Having this kind of speed in setup meant that if we were running a major order for two million feet of cabinet work and a small order for, say, 500 feet of specialty work, I could accept it, make a profit and finish both jobs on time," Jones said.

That kind of efficiency has helped Woodsmith blossom into a 40-man shop taking orders from 10 major customers and about 15 large millwork suppliers, plus orders from all over the Southeast. As the company continued to grow, so did its need for even more efficient equipment, Jones said.

Thus, Jones purchased a fully-integrated program for the Weinig Unimat 22AL CNC, a six-spindle unit with pre-cutting top head. Set-up time is now accomplished in mere minutes; productivity and profits are 30 percent.

Best of all to employees and Jones is that the shop is able to meet its production requirements within a 40-hour work week.

"I sent four employees for training, (whose experience) ranged from 39 years in the wood business to just a year or so, and all of them learned to use the system in just three days....They all say they would never go back to the old way," Jones said.

As an added plus, Jones said the finish on his products in noticeably improved. "Thanks to the fine grinds we get, we can do deep, high-quality profiles on mouldings that really set the product apart," Jones said. "We feel that our benefit is offering the architect or supplier an item that will add a strong detail to the home or building.

"This was supposed to be a down-time in the industry," Jones added. "But with the fact that we can profitably take the large or small job on just about any schedule, we have a nice backlog of orders."

PHOTO : Woodsmith produces its own profiles knives using the Weinig Rondamat 931.

PHOTO : The reduced setup time provided by the Weinig CNC Unimat 22AL has helped the company to meet its weekly production schedules.

PHOTO : The company stores and reuses dozens of common profiles. Both special and common profile knives are ground in-house.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Woodsmith Inc.
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:May 1, 1991
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