A growing trend in today’s marketplace is customization. While standardization still has a prominent role that meets most consumers’ needs, there is a large population that would prefer custom. The problem with customization is the additional associated manufacturing costs. Custom designs typically result in a steeper price point, but today, consumers want it the way they want it at a cost not much more than a one-size-fits-all product. To make customization affordable, the key is to automate every step of the process from design to production while using precision automation. The following case study illustrates how Archways & Ceilings has done this with their custom range hoods.
Designing Custom Range Hoods
Once Archways & Ceilings receives a custom range hood order, the order is sent to their internal design department. With their automated software extension, they type in their customer’s custom range hood dimensions, and within a few minutes, they have a 3D model. With another click of a button, approval drawings are generated, which are then emailed to the customer for approval prior to production.
If a customer requests a revision, it’s simply a matter of opening their design file, making the quick changes, and re-emailing them approval drawings. However, if revisions were requested by Archways & Ceilings customers prior to their adoption of automated design software, the custom range hood would have to be redrawn from scratch. The estimated cost savings of automating the design of their custom range hoods is $150 per custom range hood. What was once a tedious and time-consuming task for their design department now takes minutes instead of hours.
Production with Precision Automation
Once the customer approves the design, the order moves to production. At this point, the design department, with a click of a button, explodes the 3D model into work orders for pre-cutting, arch making, CNC, and post-cutting.
In pre-cut, all of Archways & Ceilings’ saws are equipped with both safety features and precision gauges. For odd material depths, they use a SawStop industrial table saw with a TigerStop TigerFence, which gives the team incredible accuracy. The TigerFence’s accuracy, combined with the ease in which an operator can quickly cut different depths without walking back and forth around their table saw, has been estimated to save them $30 per day in labor.
For standardized material depths, Archways & Ceilings uses a horizontal panel saw equipped with a precision gauge and pneumatic clamps. This gives them the ability to cut several sheets at once both quickly and accurately, and further speeding up their production process will also maintaining quality. They’ve estimated cost savings at $100 per day in labor.
From 3D Model to Precision Cuts
Custom range hoods are a blend of both arched and plywood components. When the Archways & Ceilings design team creates a 3D model, their software creates a DWG file that is easily accessible for CNC tool-pathing in VCarve Pro. The plywood components are already nested in the DWG, and a VCarve Pro template is used to quickly create the numerical control G-code for their CNC router.
However, the manufacturing processes and the equipment Archways & Ceilings uses to create the arched components is, unfortunately, a trade secret. But they did comment that traditional wood-bending techniques are archaic. When asked to explain, they used an analogy of the time it takes for a normal person to change a tire compared to the time it takes a NASCAR pit crew.
Precision automation is a major competitive advantage not only for those companies with standardized products, but for those companies that specialize in custom products. Whether the automation is in design, production, or shipping, every dollar counts in today’s marketplace.
Archways & Ceilings: Made-in-the USA custom manufacturer of prefabricated archways, ceilings, and wall design kits primarily for new residential construction. As such, they are factory direct to home builders, contractors, and remodelers. Their custom range hoods are one of many different kits they build.