Software and Machinery a Natural Choice

For 20 of their 24 years of operation Darrin McFarlane and Warren Smith of Kitchencraft had been making kitchens in the traditional way, with a panel saw and edgebander.  Four years ago they began to look around at the options available in terms of introducing software turned out to be a bit of a natural choice, with excellent results.

Kitchencraft manufacture across the kitchen making, cabinetry and furniture spectrum mostly mid to upper end. For much of their life that has involved hand sketched designs drawn by Warren, run through the panel saw, edged and then assembled.

Four or five years ago both partners, following the move to automation throughout the industry, to use Darrin’s words, began looking lightly at the options available around them in anticipation of an eventual decision.

However when they employed a new designer whose experience was with Cabinet Vision the decision became simple and a couple of years ago they purchased the programme They used it as a standalone design tool as well as a parts generator for the first year before hooking it up to production when they purchased a new Biesse Skill 1224 GFT in late 2012.

“It was a good way to go about it,” says Darrin. “As we were able to become familiar with the front end before moving deeper into the production side of the programme”.

The move to nesting itself was again somewhat a matter of circumstance. Initially Darrin and Warren decided that they needed to replace their edgebander but in researching that option realised a similar budget could purchase a reliable second hand edgebander and a new router, allowing them to shift their production to a nesting set up.

The fact that they already had a Biesse Rover point to point which had always worked well for them and a healthy persistence from the Biesse rep meant they settled on a Biesse Skill 1224 GFT, a machine whose flexibility suited their manufacturing style and one-off design production.

The combination has worked well, with minimal training Darrin who largely deals on the production side has found it pretty easy to pick up despite having had no previous CAD experience

“It’s all about your mind set,” says Darrin, “manufacturing cabinets and kitchens for 25 years means we have a good idea of how cabinetry works and were able to translate this to the software. It all made sense.”

“During the 2-3 day install by the Biesse team we sat down with Phil Smith from Joinery IT who we purchased Cabinet Vision from and set out the parameters of our construction methods and developed a library to suit, which meant we were ready to go almost immediately.

Since then most of our contact has been through a remote server which has worked really well especially initially when the contact was more frequent. Now, if I have an issue, maybe we require a specific program for how we manufacture, I ring Phil and he takes care of it as opposed to doing it myself.”

One and a half years later both are happy with their shift to nesting.

“The machining accuracy is better,” says Darrin “and takes out an element of error. The optimisation set up is great with significant material saving through less wastage. On top of this a lower skill level is required to operate the machinery and manufacture the cabinets, giving us a bigger pool to employ from and at the end of the day the manufacturing process is much quicker.”

The company is only using the Biesse on average 2-3 days a week leaving plenty of room for growth – however Darrin believes Kitchencraft is about where they want it to be right now so are unlikely to push the machines capacity for some time.

Darrin McFarlane
20 Birmingham Rd,
East Tamaki
Ph 09 274 4221