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CNC machines let siblings serve new markets.

For the brother-sister team, Heidi and Randy Horst of Service Products, the addition of computer-controlled equipment has opened doors to new markets.

Thirty years ago, Robert Horst, founder of Chicago-based Service Products, focused his product line to the manufacturing hardboard clipboards for the office products industry. But since his son and daughter became involved in the company 12 years ago, their desire to increase markets and invest in high-tech machinery have allowed the company's product lines, as well as its profits, to expand.

At one point, clipboards made up almost all of the company's total sales. Today, that figure stands at about 50 percent, with the inclusion of chair mats, point-of-purchase (P.O.P.) display units, artist supplies, product display boards and novelty items sold at craft fairs making up the rest of the company's $3.5 million sales.

Part of the reason the company has broadened its market is credited to its investment in CNC equipment. Randy Horst said that the machinery has given them increased productivity and a wider product base as a result of greater flexibility, reduced downtime and increased accuracy from the CNC machinery.

"The automated computer machinery allows us to better serve our customers by being able to handle any size volume while delivering consistent accuracy," said Randy.

"By saving time on maintenance and changeovers, the equipment has increased our productivity so that we are able to bid a better price on jobs, making us more competitive," he said.

"And we've rarely been late on a promised shipping date since we purchased the CNC equipment," Heidi added.

The company operates Heian NC-442P four-head and NC-642P six-head CNC routers, both with Fanuc computer controls.

"We've programmed the routers so that they can both perform the same jobs, but one machine may have an advantage over the other," Heidi said. "The six-head machine may be used for bigger jobs because of its productivity rate, but it also depends on part size and number of operations being performed."

In addition, a Giben CNC panel saw with an Alpha N computer cuts blanks which are machined on the routers. The machine cuts a wide variety of sizes and thicknesses according to the job requirements, and the company orders custom sized hardboard from the mill for its clipboards.

"After cutting the clipboards from the custom sized boards, the only waste that is left is sawdust," Heidi said.

Making the cut

Most projects utilize 1/4-in. or 1/8-in. hardboard supplied by ABT Co., Georgia-Pacific or Masonite. The company also uses MDF, particleboard, plywood and hardwood in various thicknesses for P.O.P. display jobs.

After blanks are cut on the Giben, the Heians rout or perform precision T-molding and boring operations that have been programmed by Randy.

Following cutting and routing of the blanks, they are brushed with a Black Bros. panel cleaner to remove dust and painted on a custom-designed roll coater utilizing Federated lacquer paints.

"We built our own roll coater because it was a cost-efficient approach to giving us the finish we needed instead of buying new equipment," said Heidi.

If a job requires silk screening, pieces are screened by hand on silk screen presses. Waste blanks are reused on jobs with smaller dimensions or hogged and burned in a furnace to heat the plant.

Not intimidated by the complex programming required with CNC equipment, Randy, who handles most of the production responsibilities, feels comfortable with the CNC machinery.

"The program training on the routers took about two to three months, but all the training required was a simple knowledge of math," said Randy. "The jobs can be programmed off-line on a PC at home or on a lap top computer and then downloaded to the CNC equipment through a modem."

Brother and sister agree that they have not felt the pinch from the recession, and if anything, business and the future of the company has never looked better.

"There are lots of jobs still out there in the P.O.P. market and we plan on expanding into this market through word-of-mouth," Heidi, who handles most of the sales and marketing duties, said, "We plan on adding more equipment, maybe a point-to-point drill, and we've just purchased a Voorwood foiler to complement our finishing operation so we don't have to worry about finishing spray fumes. If business keeps up the way it has we might also add a third shift."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on Insol-Edge spacer channels; computer numerical control
Author:Derning, Sean
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Wenge: a tough act to follow.
Next Article:Hurd millwork.

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