Diversify And Save Time – CAM Software Did It For Agetek

March 4, 2013

The combination of Cabinet Vision and Alphacam woodworking software saves a kitchen and door manufacturer a full eight hours every working day.

Agetek Kitchens and Doors was one of the first companies in Ireland to use Alphacam, as the software’s predecessor was already installed when the Colton family bought the business in Tullamore, Ireland, 15 years ago.

But Cabinet Vision allowed them to diversify into manufacturing carcasses, which is now the major side of their business. Demand for doors declined as the recession hit, and Production Manager Adrian Colton (pictured below) says they realised kitchen cabinets were the way forward. “Before we invested in Cabinet Vision two years ago we didn’t touch carcasses, apart from drawing up the occasional three-drawer lockers in Alphacam.”

Now, with Cabinet Vision and Alphacam driving their SCM Record 130 and two Ergon routers – one of which is fully automated – turnover has reached 2-million Euros and business is thriving. As well as the carcasses for kitchens, wardrobes and office furniture, they also produce veneered cabinet doors along with bath panels and headboards, serving a customer base of around 500 from their 42,000 square foot premises.

Adrian Colton says the simple procedure for designing cabinets in Cabinet Vision Solid Ultimate Version 8 and then sending those designs to the CNC machinery with their Screen-To-Machine option, saves around three hours a day compared to the time taken to do those tasks manually.

“I’ll feed the information about the customer’s order into Cabinet Vision, draw the plan, layout the carcasses on the walls, and then when everything’s ready the software takes over, creating the cutlists. Screen-To-Machine analyses the part geometries and automates the process of selecting the proper tools and order of operations, along with feeds and speeds, and sends the ready G-Code to the selected machine.”

Another new service Agetek could not have taken on without Cabinet Vision, is regular drawer manufacturing. “We’ve designed macros for different sizes, then we just key in the number we want and Screen-To-Machine produces the nests, completely optimising material usage on our 9 x 7 mdf board. It cuts them out, drills them...it does everything.”
He also estimates Alphacam’s Cabinet Door Manufacturing (CDM) module saves a further five hours a day on door production. “Inside CDM we have a macro for each style of door, so when we’re creating a CSV file based on the order, we simply include the macro we need, along with the relevant size, and load the file directly into CDM. Then we simply push a button and it generates the program. It couldn’t be simpler. It creates correctly-sized doors putting them into a nest with the correct tooling in place.

“Time is also saved because we only have to input key data once.”

Adrian Colton and his Father, Frank, who is Agetek’s Managing Director, both readily took to Alphacam programming...and now, 15 years on, they have a joint programmer/machine operator, Micheal Farrell (pictured below) who is also proficient in Cabinet Vision. He says: “It can take up to half an hour for a sheet to be machined, giving me plenty of time to program the next job. This means the machines are running virtually constantly with no down time.”

The main SCM Ergon router is fully automated. Once Cabinet Vision or Alphacam NC code has been sent, he loads a pack of mdf and a vacuum lifter puts the panels on the machine.  He calls up the program, creates the nest or mix, and sets the machine to run however many sheets are required, before going back to the office to create the next program. And the full automation process finishes when the vacuum lifter removes the completed parts.

The time saved in designing and programming is invaluable, says Adrian Colton: “Without Cabinet Vision and Alphacam we probably wouldn’t even be in business, because the processes would be too slow and labour intensive, and wouldn’t be commercially viable.” The software gives them the capability to undertake bespoke work – off-standard door sizes, and being able to alter the shape, size and fittings for carcasses. “We can take on work that we couldn’t do before.”

And an added bonus comes from engraving wood for a joiner who has CNC machines but not the right software. Using the 3D Engraving function within all levels of Alphacam, he says: “It’s so simple, it’s almost silly! I write the text, place it where it needs to go on the panel, set the contours to automatic and click the engraving icon.”

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