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Covering the boring machine bases.


Wood & Wood Products examines the diverse boring and drilling approaches of four major-league woodworking operations.

When Gerard Kamp, president of Indian Country Inc., purchased two multiple spindle boring machines from Ritter Mfg. at the IWF in Atlanta last year instead of investing in another CNC boring machine, it was primarily a question of economics. When Charles D. Moore, general manager of Community Professional Sound Systems, finally decided to add a CNC Morbidelli U-26 to his multi-faceted equipment arsenal 18 months ago, better time management and pinpoint accuracy were the biggest factors.

Regardless of why they decided to make either point-to-point or dedicated 32mm boring machines the designated aces in the holes for the products their companies manufacture, these gentlemen share one thing in common: a game plan that wasn't finalized until absolutely every aspect of their production processes was closely examined.

What follows is a closer look at each of these company's carefully conceived boring and drilling solutions.



When it comes to manufacturing commercial loudspeaker systems, few companies can pump up the volume on par with Community Professional Sound Systems, a 26-year-old firm based in Chester, Pa., just six miles south of Philadelphia.

According to general manager Charles D. Moore, the company produces between 500 and 600 speaker systems per week, most of which are housed in wooden cabinets made out of a combination of particleboard, MDF and fiberglass.

"Some of the speakers are relatively small, while others are large enough to live in," said Moore. "All told, we make 156 different products."

When Moore set out on a year-long search for a heavy-duty, point-to-point drilling machine 2 1/2 years ago, flexibility and quick changeover were the major attributes he was looking for.

"We set up our systems in a bottom-side, top-side, face-back sequence for our assembly people," Moore explained. "We can have runs as small as 20 and as large as 110."

After all was said and done, Moore settled on a Morbidelli U-26 from Tekna Machinery.

"The really big concern I had was absolute guaranteed software and hardware reliability when the blade is actually on the wood. How much dead time is there from point A to point B? That was what I needed to know."

Dead time has not been a problem. The U-26 runs 10 hours a day and has never had a major breakdown.

"We do all our programming in-house and use carbide tip tooling," Moore said. "The machine cuts, drills and does all our round-overs -- front to back, side to back and corner to back. It performs about seven to eight different boring jobs."

With no end in sight to Community Professional Sound Systems -- 40 percent growth rate every year for the last five years -- Moore now has his sights set on purchasing a Morbidelli A-504 to go with his company's U-26.

"The 504 has a slightly larger bed size and greater speed in dead time movement," he explained.

When asked for a quantitative measure of the U-26's effectiveness, Moore hardly needed any time for a response.

"Considering that the manpower we had solely operating machinery is now being used to serve other functions, I'd say we've had a 53 percent improvement in our efficiency," he said.

Now there's a figure that speaks in great volumes.



Situated along the banks of the Delaware River in upstate Deposit, N.Y., Indian Country Inc. has moved steadily upstream since its creation in 1972.

Just over two decades after initially doing nothing but cutting to size raw plywood and MDF, this family-owned operation has become a high-volume producer of custom components primarily for RTA manufacturers in the Northeast.

With 110 employees and a yearly growth rate of 20 percent, the keys to Indian Country's success have been the significant increase in 32mm construction usage in the United States along with a major investment in compatible woodworking equipment that has added value to the products it offers.

"Many of the products we were handling switched over to the 32mm system, and we continued to get a lot of calls for business," said Gerard Kamp, president of the company founded by his father, Frank. "Unless your operation is set up exclusively for 32mm production, it's real hard to maintain the necessary machining accuracy."

As a result, the company purchased a Shoda CNC router 14 months ago and quickly began to rely on it for the brunt of its boring work. "That's a $300,000 machine, which is fine for short runs with complicated sets but not for RTA, where the runs are longer," Kamp explained. "The margins for CNC jobs are far greater than those that consist mainly of drilling holes."

Enter a pair of multiple boring machines -- an M46VH and an R46 double row line drill -- purchased from Ritter Mfg. at last year's IWF in Atlanta.

Requiring minimum air and electric compared to Indian Country's CNC machine, the company's dedicated machines currently are operating at full tilt on a typical eight-hour shift, working mostly on big-order kitchen cabinet panel components.

The R46 can drill up to 64 holes in a two-second pass, while the M46VH's forte is churning out the different-sized holes needed for the cabinet systems' cam-lock fasteners.

Both machines require manual placement of parts, "but they're relatively simple to train on, compared to a lot of other machines I've seen that come with 1,200-page manuals," Kamp said.

Just recently, Indian Country added another piece of equipment to its boring equipment arsenal -- a used, custom-made machine purchased from Ritter that specializes in drilling small holes in Plexiglas for plaques the company makes.

Presently, Kamp estimates that 50 percent of all the boring Indian Country does is for 32mm jobs. Next year, he expects the figure to jump to 70 percent.

"We're pretty much set now," he said. "Our added drill capacity has allowed us to get more jobs and provide completely packaged goods. Now we can handle any wood part that requires a boring machine or router."



It's rather difficult to get a precise read on Precision Panel Products Inc., a bustling, just-in-time 32mm component product manufacturer located in Largo, Fla.

Although it has focused primarily on servicing the Florida area since opening for business in 1988, the 57-employee operation recently has begun to penetrate a lot more of the export market, especially in the United Kingdom and Mexico.

And while the sizable hike in job orders for everything from kitchen cabinet components to institutional casework systems to its own line of RTA cabinetry has made the search for another facility one of the company's top priorities, the diverse demands of its customers refuse to bottom out.

"We're at a point now where 50 percent of our jobs are custom," said Randy Cooke, the company's production manager. "Although we have the volume, our equipment can't be limited to large production runs."

Even in the company's earliest days, there was no denying the need for flexible, multi-memory boring and drilling equipment capable of cranking out short, exact runs quickly and efficiently. Two Weeke boring machines are helping Precision Panel Products do just that.

"Mainly, it was the quick set-up times that sold me on the Weekes," said Cooke of the pair of point-to-point workhorses Precision Panel Products purchased one year apart from Stiles Machinery. "To justify buying a feed-through drill, you have to plan on 500-panel jobs minimum. That's a maximum job for us. We need machines that can store a lot of programs."

On a typical day, Precision Panel Products works on 25 to 30 different jobs. As a result, both Weeke machines run together an average of 18 hours a day. Taking into account line boring, construction holes and grooving, Cooke figures it takes about 50 seconds to bore a typical panel on each of the Weekes.

"One nice thing is that when we do a larger run, one operator can run both machines if the panels are timed out correctly," said Cooke. "We can work with four panels simultaneously, two on each machine. One side of each machine can drill right-side panels, while the other side bores left-side panels."

Cooke said the Weekes are particularly effective on customized jobs. "A lot of times, for instance, we'll have a run for a school where they'll want 10 raised panel cabinets in one area and 10 different panel types in another area. Our casework division has a program for every panel in every job we do."

While the Weeke CNCs have performed beyond expectations, they don't tell the whole story of Precision Panel's boring and drilling needs. Altogether, the company uses five different drills. A pair of Morbidelli CNC boring machines are used for mostly horizontal drilling applications, while a locally-purchased customized machine specializes in door panels.

"In the future, I think we're looking at one more CNC, and we're also nearing the point where a feed-through might be needed."

And, with business continuing to boom, it's a good bet the boring buck won't stop there.



Like so many other classic custom job shops around the country, short runs and seemingly endless setups come with the territory at Ly-Line Products Inc., a 22-year old manufacturer of laminated institutional casework systems for schools, hospitals and laboratories.

Unlike a fair share of its custom shop counterparts, however, this 50-employee operation headquartered in Enumclaw, Wash., has resisted jumping on the point-to-point boring bandwagon.

"We just don't feel we have enough volume to warrant spending so many dollars on a CNC system," said general manager Don Russell. "Most of our activity is in the summer before the schools open. Due to the seasonal nature of our operation and the high fixed costs involved, we instead depend on a coordinated approach involving our three existing pieces of boring equipment."

Ly-Line's heavy hitter is a multiple-spindle, in-line boring machine from Peznecker. It has six drill motors, with eight spindles each on 2-inch centers.

Then there are the role players: a Forecon dowel boring machine that creates dowel holes at the ends of top and bottom panels and the company's most recent acquisition, a 50-memory Vitap MX that was purchased from Atlantic Machinery primarily to increase face boring capacity in end panels.

"The Vitap simultaneously bores dowel holes on the tops of end panels and vertical holes in the faces of bottom panels, in addition to making holes for recessed toe kicks," said Russell.

"Everything is indexed and keyed together, so we're able to minimize tear downs and set ups," said Russell. "The key to our operation is keeping the technology relatively simple and employing versatile craftsmen who can make small-quality runs."
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:woodworking operations
Author:Arkush, Dan
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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