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CNC router reduces downtime, adds to productivity.

Custom Valley Countertops in Rockford, Ill., began producing countertops in 1973 and expanded into commercial fixtures in 1983. All products are made using a 45-pound particleboard core and are custom laminated. When the company purchased its third CNC router last year, productivity increased by 40% in terms of router availability, according to Ed Roman, health and safety engineer.

The Ekstrom, Carlson Model 333 is equipped with two heads and four drills including a multiple head drill which makes gang drilling fast and easy, Roman said. It also has point-to-point capability which is used for holes that don't fit into the standard drilling patterns. The addition of the model 333 has freed up its other CNC routers -- a Heian four head point-to-point and another Ekstrom, Carlson 333. According to Roman, the first Ekstrom, Carlson model fit the needs so well, the company didn't consider buying anything else.

The routers handle straight wood or laminates with ease, Roman said. The company uses a Black Bros. #22D-875 top and bottom adhesive spreader and #490-68-in. top and bottom panel cleaner to apply backer laminates and some decorative laminates. On fixtures, the backer and laminate is applied to both sides to balance the board; applying the backer to one side causes the moisture to be off-balance and the board to warp.

A Bechtold #SPR-51 pinch press applies high pressure laminates to pieces that have been backer laminated and a Midwest 2920 postformer is used for edgebanding countertops.

Custom Valley Countertops buys nearly all its laminates cut-to-size to speed up production. "One of our strengths is that we can do one piece or 1,000 pieces," Roman said.

Furthermore, having three routers to shape and drill boards helps the shop meet its custom demands. "The beauty of routers is that once you've passed the programming and learning curve, one and two pieces don't bother you," Roman said. Downtime is 30 seconds if the spoilboards don't need to be changed and eight or nine minutes it they do.

According to Roman, a large part of router training is attaining a comfort level. "I don't think training is ever over," he said.

About six of the company's 35 employees know how to run the routers. "An operator that knows how to run a laminate trimmer can call up programs in 20 seconds and he can run them all day if the spoilboards don't need to be changed," he said. With the employees cross-trained, personnel can be moved around if someone is sick or absent. Furthermore, cross-training adds to the operator's self-worth, which in turn, increases his commitment level, Roman said.

With the increased productivity of the routers, the company manufactures about 1,000 custom pieces per week, Roman said, and has the capacity for more work.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:woodworking equipment
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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