A Different Approach03/18/2020
Holz-Her: A Different Approach
Originally established as an international shopfitting and commercial fit-out business over 25 years ago, Sheen Project’s business model has changed significantly in the last five years. No longer solely working with large contractors, the Wakefield-based company now supplies internal doors and furniture to the commercial sector. This manufacturing shift has resulted in the business investing in its second Holz-Her machine - a Dynestic 7535 5-axis CNC router.
“Door and furniture manufacturing now accounts for 50% of our business,” begins Richard Sheen, Managing Director of Sheen Projects. “This hasn’t just happened overnight, but it has involved us in making some big changes to our manufacturing facilities.” This has seen Sheen Projects embark on an ambitious five-year plan to replace its old woodworking machinery with state-of-the-art equipment.
Following the installation of the company’s first Holz-Her Accura edgebander, which had been installed to apply both door lippings and PVC lippings, Richard set his sights on a new CNC machine from the German manufacturer. “We had been running two second-hand CNC machines but they were less than ideal. They couldn’t hold jumbo sheets of MFC or Corian, which meant we’d often have to cut panels to size using a beam saw or table saw first. It was a two-man operation and, working by hand with panels as large as 2.8 x 2 metres, proved extremely difficult. We also had the time-consuming job of creating manual cutting lists and we were limited by the machine’s three-axis capabilities.”
Richard was keen to invest in a multi-functional, heavy-duty five-axis CNC machine. It needed to automate as much of the process as possible – reducing labour costs and handling, and decreasing production times. It also needed to handle large sheet materials, and be able to switch between mass door manufacturing and single-batch furniture design. And a further requirement: it had to simplify the programming process for the operator. The answer came in the form a Holz-Her Dynestic 7535 CNC with five-axis cutting spindle. As well as offering a 2,200mm deep grid table (ideal for jumbo sheets), it came with a high-flow nesting table, double-acting suction pads for clamping doors, and a newly-developed Campus CAD/CAM software package for convenient operation. The 10kW cutting spindle with a speed range of 1,000 – 24,000 rpm and a high-performance 12 kW cutting spindle meant it was also capable of working quickly.
It wasn’t just the machine that impressed Richard. Weinig’s sales approach was a key factor in Richard’s decision to buy a Holz-Her. “There was no hard sell,” he recalls. “There was no short-sighted sales process and there were no pushy salesman trying to sell us a standard machine that wasn’t going to be a great fit for our business. Instead, Weinig wanted to get a real understanding of our business, our processes and what we wanted to achieve. The Dynestic had everything we wanted in a CNC. There isn’t one part of that machine that we don’t use – it’s been built to our exact specification – and its build quality and its specification blows other manufacturers out of the water.”
Four weeks later, Sheen Projects took delivery of the Holz-Her five-axis Dynestic CNC. Operators underwent a three-day technical training course at Weinig UK’s head quarters in Abingdon, followed by two weeks of practical training on the CNC once it was fully installed. “It’s paid for itself and allowed the team to hit the ground running,” confirmed Richard.
Now fully up and running, the CNC has transformed the company’s manufacturing cycle. “The CNC is awesome,” admits Richard. “It’s allowing us to do much more than we could have done before. We no longer need two people loading the machine and all our machine cutting, processing and jointing processes have been automated.
“The nesting table is unbelievable. We’ve got a sacrificial sheet of MDF on the table and it still offers a huge amount of suction when holding jumbo sheets down. Before, we had to rely on pods and it soon became clear that we couldn’t get enough pods on the machine to hold the panels down. We also had to work out manually where the pods needed to go. Now, we only use pods when we’re working with doors because of the thickness of the edges we’re processing. The machine tells us exactly where they need to be and we can control each one individually on the display screen, making swapping and changing panel sizes quick and easy.”
The speed and accuracy of the Dynestic has reduced lead times for Sheen Projects by 50% and doubled production capacity. Richard says, “Our orders vary massively in size and so do the turn-around times we need to work to. It’s not uncommon for us to produce a handful of doors for a local school one day and over 3000 wardrobes and 3000 doors for a new apartment block the next. As well as the CNC’s mechanical capabilities, the CAD/CAM software offers us the flexibility to fulfil these orders quickly and with absolute accuracy. It also eliminates the need for manual cutting lists and flat-pack drawings, giving us the option to programme the machine remotely and produce detailed technical drawings, 3D views and simulations easily.”
Richard admits that every process has been shortened by the Dynestic. “A door leg used to take us 35 minutes to prep but now it takes us three-and-a-half minutes. This means our door packages, which include door sets, casings, legs, lock cases, lock keys and hinges, have a lead time of three weeks instead of 12. The speed of this machine has already won us a lot of business and people are coming to us because they know we can fulfil orders quickly.
“We’ve taken out a service plan with Weinig UK to reduce the risk of mechanical issues or breakdowns. This is a huge selling point for us and something I can’t recommend more highly. Each Holz-Her machine gets serviced twice a year and, if there is ever an issue with the machine, an engineer will be on site within 24 hours, no ifs or buts. There’s also a phone line that we can call if we ever need any advice or help with the machine. We’ve used this service on more than one occasion and the problem has been resolved within minutes. We’ve never received this level of aftercare from any other machinery manufacturer.”
Looking to the future, Richard’s Holz-Her machinery range is set to grow. “I’ve bought a lot of machinery in my time and, since buying into the Holz-Her brand, I’ve realised that buying cheaper machines is a false economy and the aftersales service simply doesn’t compare. My advice to anyone would be to look at the complete machinery package and not just the price tag.”
Richards add, “Over the next three years, we’re going to continue investing in new machinery in order to grow the supply side of the business. We have just ordered a new Holz-Her Lumina 1380 edgebander, which will be used to edge our furniture panels without the need for hand finishing, and I’m already talking to Weinig UK about our next machine. If I have my way, we’ll have a mini Holz-Her showroom by the time we’re finished. We have a great relationship with Weinig and immense confidence in their machines. For us, they are the best you can get.”