Systems Conversion

Changing your production methods to a nesting set up requires investment in machinery, software and time. Much of that time is going to involve employees moving from the familiar to the new. We spoke to some of the staff at Counties Kitchens in Papakura, who being comfortable with their existing set up eyed the new with some trepidation, and found that within a few months they were converts.

Counties Kitchens has been manufacturing kitchens, vanities and wall units for around 25 years.  Current owner Mark Stevenson purchased the business three years ago with the intention of changing from using a dimension saw to cut his panel to a nesting set up – for him it was simply a matter of saving time and materials.

The company purchased a Masterwood 12.25 K flatbed router from Machines R US along with Cabinet Vision software from Matamata based Joinery IT, in the middle of last year. The selection process wasn’t particularly arduous for Mark who wanted tried and tested technology.

“I choose the Masterwood for several reasons, I had purchased machines off John Fleet before and my dealings with him had always been good and the Masterwood to me represented value, it is big, chunky and robust, has all the features of its major competitors and is cheaper.” says Mark

The purchase of Cabinet Vision was also price related – with a standalone set up a priority. “I wanted one package that would take design through to production, I looked through several options, had a couple of colleagues whose opinion I respect recommend Cabinet Vision and the Joinery IT team and it came in at a price which was very  competitive.”

Results have been great. “Aided by a couple of efficiency improvements such as a forklift purchase and new racking systems we are probably now saving up to a day and a half per kitchen. Cabinet Vision saves a lot of time and eradicates a lot of potential errors with its automatic generation of part and cut lists from the design input and the direct feed of information to the Masterwood which just does what you tell it to do.”

Initially daunted by the task in front of him 18 year company veteran and production foreman Rodney Farrell is now an advocate of the system. “It frightened the shit out of me at first. I’m old school with no previous computer skills but told Mark I would give it a go and if I wasn’t up to it I would resign. It took some time with many early mornings and late nights but I am now enjoying it even to the extent that I am now assisting in developing the library,” says Rodney.

The company began using the router and its software as soon as the machine was operational.

“Following installation and a couple of days on site instruction from Philip Smith from Joinery IT we just started with the new jobs.  Initially our designers needed a bit of online help to develop the library, but production hardly slowed. Mark expected us to go back a few steps initially, but that didn’t happen because material purchases have gone up since we bought it,” says Rodney. “It is definitely the way to go, I always thought nesting was just for bigger business but if you have 4-5 guys on the floor this set up will suit, production scheduling is easier as through put is a lot quicker.”

The company’s kitchen designers Jamie Ng and Rachel Wilcox were two other employees directly affected by the change. As an experienced designer Jamie was comfortable with her existing design software, but has converted to Cabinet Vision quickly and any initial reluctance has disappeared as she has become more familiar with the package and can see the benefits of the direct links to production.  Rachel came to the company from a graphic design course and while not having used Cabinet Vision before was fairly comfortable with the set up. “Once we had set up our basic library which we are continually adding to, there has been less and less need for assistance, but online help is great we use TeamViewer and it is very easy to follow what the guys at Cabinet Vision – Philip and Jason are doing online – we are literally able to watch and learn.”

Six months following installation Mark Stevenson is pretty pleased with the way things have progressed. “My staff have been fantastic, change is not always easy and it’s great to see how they have made it work. The Masterwood is a far more efficient cutter of panel than our previous set up and Cabinet Vision has meant the flow of information to it is seamless, quick and less prone to error.”

Counties Kitchens
6 Vernon St,
Phone 0800 47 47 42