Digital Templating and How It Helped

Making the switch to digital templating has helped Johnson Granite, Inc. of Mount Airy, NC, significantly expand its production capacity.

In 2007-08, Brian Johnson, president of Johnson Granite, Inc. in Mount Airy, NC, made a decision to help the longevity of his company. Johnson decided to switch his fabrication shop from hard templating to digital templating. Before the switch, the company was relatively small, and after the switch, he said it really opened up his capacity.

“Most of the time, when you do things by hand, you have one good guy who knows what they are doing,” said Johnson. “Switching to digital has helped me hire and train others that could do this type of work. They still have to have some skill, rather than just being able to punch something into a computer. It has really helped me.”

Johnson credits digital technology with not only helping expand his business, but expanding its footprint. It has also saved the company in sheer losses because there is a digital record of everything. “I think these machines cost $12,000, $13,000 or $14,000, but they will pay for themselves easily in a year,” he said. “In my opinion, it is the only way to do it.”

Johnson Granite, Inc. — started in 2000 by Brian Johnson and his father, Larry Johnson — uses three LT-55 Templators and a LT-2D3D Laser Templator from Laser Products Industries of Romeoville, IL. “The LT-55 you have to raise up and down because everything is viewed on one plane,” said Johnson. “With the 2D3D you don’t have to do that, your set up is so much easier and quicker. It was the newest thing they had and they demoed it for me and I said, ‘I gotta have it.’ I have three templating guys, the other two are jealous because they want the 2D3D.” While the transition of switching to a digital shop was relatively smooth, the hardest part for Johnson was trying something new when there is already a lot on his plate. “That’s always been kind of the nervous part to me, trying to implement something new when you already have your hands full,” he said.

Besides the Laser Products templating equipment, the shop features a GMM Egil CNC saw, a Park Industries Yukon bridge saw, a Park Industries Razorback, a Montresor Luna 540 edge polisher and a Breton NC 260K37 Robocup CNC. For the CNC machines, they use Tyrolit tooling, buying directly from Tyrolit. Also, they use Salem Stone as their main tooling supplier. The Montresor Luna 540 edge polisher is the newest machine in the shop. “We are still in the final stages of crunching all the numbers, but really and truly that machine has increased our profitability and increased our production rate and made a huge difference,” said Johnson. “It is one of those things of ‘why didn’t I have this machine earlier?’”

The shop manufactures natural stone, quartz and solid surface material, and at its capacity, can produce 90,000 square feet a year. The facility is divided into three sections: a 15,000-square-foot fabrication shop for natural stone and quartz, a 2,000-square-foot solid surface shop and an office and showroom totaling about 4,500 square feet. It runs one shift with 37 full-time employees and eight part-time employees.

Johnson Granite, Inc. does its own installation and has four install crews. While the shop is located in a small town, it services the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina that includes Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point. Also, the shop services southwest Virginia and the southern half of West Virginia.

While Johnson Granite, Inc. does both residential and commercial work, the majority is residential. “For residential, we are running four crews — two a day — averaging about 30 kitchens a week,” said Johnson. “I don’t sell a lot to the builders direct; I sell a lot to the designers, the kitchen and bath dealers, so I would say our average square footage would be 60.”

The company looks to continue to grow the commercial side of its business, just like when they grew because of switching to digital templating over five years ago. “Really and truly, a large shop has to have it,” said Johnson. “We were a much smaller operation back in 2007, and when we switched over and got the bugs worked out, it really opened up our capacity. Once you implement it, and stick to it and work out a few of the bugs, it will make you money. That’s what that piece of equipment will do; make you money — plain and simple.”

By: Jason Kamery
Article originally appear on StoneWorld.com

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