The dream of every cabinet shop owner is to be as efficient as humanly possible. But the human step of transporting panels to a panel saw ready and programmed to process may also be filled with variables. Manually feeding a panel saw is time-consuming, tedious and overwhelming for an operator. Barzotti Woodworking, Ltd. has implemented a newer, easier way of processing panels for cabinet construction.
Paul Barzotti, production manager for the Guelph, Ontario, company, has discovered the true meaning of return on investment. His recently purchased Schelling storage retrieval system has completely changed his cabinet shop. Actually the company’s three shops have benefitted by eliminating any tedious worker transport of panels being brought to his newly-purchased Schelling panel saw. This basic but important step is now done entirely by automated equipment, equipment programmed to deal with the inventory of many different types of materials.
Barzotti Woodworking makes a fully custom line. They’ve done cabinet work for everyone from music industry celebrities to NHL hockey players. That stellar reputation has kept them in business some 45 years. Their work still consists, even after all the years, of kitchens and vanities. The firm also currently is made up of three different cabinet companies.
Aside from Barzotti Woodworking there are Euro Choice Kitchens, Inc. and Olympia Cabinets. Ten years ago Barzotti purchased Olympia Cabinets, headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario. Olympia Cabinets is a semi-custom cabinetmaker. Euro Choice Kitchens features mainly frameless modular, three-quarter-inch boxes with one-half inch backing. For every three-inch increment of this work, they make a different upper, base and vanity. They do all their own solid wood doors with their own off-the-cut saw that cuts their rails.
They also do all their own panels and crown mouldings. The company buys nothing except the raw materials. They make everything themselves and supply to the other two companies as well. For finishing they have three Cefla lines. One of these, a robotic paint line, is fairly new. This is not an Ibotic but is called a Target, with a one-head robot arm.
In total the three companies employ some 150 people. Euro Choice Kitchens and Barzotti are both under one roof at a 110,000 square foot building and Olympia Cabinets with its 25 employees is a separate location of 20,000 square feet. The company operates five showrooms, one of which is located in the U.S. in Rochester, N.Y.
Paul Barzotti is the son of the original owner, Vince Barzotti, who is still active in the company. This group of cabinetmaking companies has probably some of the latest equipment, according to Barzotti. “We just installed a Schelling with storage retrieval in the back and I think it’s the first Schelling in Canada. It may possibly be the second Schelling with storage retrieval in North America.
“We have been running that for a couple of months now and it’s going well. It’s been a huge improvement in our panel processing.”
Barzotti, being custom, needs to process many single sheets at a time using an optimizer. Their system allows for 30 lifts of material, up to two meters high. It also allows them to store thousands of sheets inside the system. Once they download the cutlist, the Schelling equipment goes and gets the sheets by itself. So they’ve eliminated downtime on the saw because the saw operator doesn’t have to go and get material anymore.
“It comes directly to him through the retrieval system. These types of retrieval systems have been around for many years; they were just very expensive. You would never see them in North America. They were mainly in Europe and not everybody made them. They’ve just become more affordable and the technology is even better now.”
The way that Barzotti had become interested in this machinery and technology was through tech tours in Europe. In the fall of 2012, Schelling offered him a tech tour and he decided to try that.
“I’d seen various storage retrieval systems before in the past,” says Barzotti. “But once I saw the Schelling I really started getting interested. Looking at the construction and quality of the Schelling and their system, the price was right for us. We went with it and we are happy with it.”
Today more shops have to cut a lot more custom jobs. This system allows operators to be more and more flexible as the big batches are going away, according to Barzotti. Operators need to be able to get their material and get it fast.
“These systems are now allowing a lot of North American companies to have less downtime on a panel saw because the material is readily available.
“The Schelling equipment brings the sheet to the CNC machine automatically. It’s like a big crane with suction cups that finds every sheet that you need and transports it directly to the cut line.”
Some shops such as Barzotti’s have as many as 100 different types of sheet stock material. What this system does is keep track of inventory once it is entered into the system. Then the operator can download the cutlist and it automatically knows where every sheet is in the system, and it goes and retrieves it. The saw operator doesn’t have to stop and wait for the forklift driver to get the next piece of material to be cut.
When Barzotti used to run their other saw before they got their Schelling equipment they would average 50 to 53 sheets of material per day. Now with their new Schelling equipment in place they’ve had some days where they cut 85 sheets and then they had a day when they cut 130 sheets; the cabinetmaker’s production since the change has been huge. It has been an incredible business advancement for Barzotti. “They are not inexpensive systems by any means but they are worth every penny as you get all your the money back that you’ve spent on this storage retrieval equipment.
“A lot of people out there do not realize that the return on this investment is there. It’s just taking that step to going forward with purchasing something like this; it’s hard for a lot of guys. They’re uncertain about the return on the investment. But to me it’s a no-brainer. We all – large and small shops – have had days when we have not had enough panel production.