Marine Fabricator July/August 2020 - 23

staff reductions. Normally, the company
has 30 full-time and two part-time
employees. As of this writing it's down to
10, comprised of management.
"The only reason we can do this is because of automation," Puri says. "People
were cross-trained to operate the software,
and this is keeping our plant going."
Faith Roberts is president of Banner
Canvas, a custom marine interior and
exterior canvas manufacturer located
in Ham Lake, Minn. The company also
has an industrial division that fabricates
products from blueprints for the coal
mining, food handling and aerospace
industries.
In late 2018, Roberts bought a Carlson
CTx 72-inch air bed cutting table, purchasing a digitizer at the same time. Her
primary purpose was to streamline manufacturing within her industrial division.
"The blueprint files come from a
CAD or other computer process that I
prequalify with my customers so their
files can be downloaded into the cutter bed's software," she explains. "The
digitizer allows me to input an existing
pattern to cut and store for future use."
Additionally, given the challenge of
finding qualified employees, Roberts
also wanted to cut manufacturing time
and stay profitable.

PLANNING FOR SUCCESS

W

hen Wizard Screen Solutions began exploring
the idea of automating aspects of its production,

it started by identifying the bottlenecks impeding
manufacturing, says Darcy Puri, general manager of the
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada-based company.
Wizard employees also:
* talked to customers and spent time project planning
the key performance indicators for success.
* solicited consultant help, spoke with suppliers
and met with like businesses to learn from their
processes/procedures.
* visited various operations to test the equipment and
technology already in place.
* for some areas, spent as much as two years
researching various equipment specifications.

Flexibility and efficiency
Using a competitor's plotter/cutter is
a strategy Roy Childres, president of
Double C Canvas and Repairs Inc., has
deployed when needed. This won't be
the case much longer. Childress, whose
Midlothian, Texas, company manufactures truck covers and exterior curtains
for commercial and residential applications, just purchased his own Autometrix
plotter/cutter, anticipating delivery soon.
This isn't his first automation go-round.
In 2010 he bought two RF machines
(he's now down to one); in 2014 he purchased a Murro grommet machine; and
last April, he bought a Sigma impulse

"We also did lots of reading and had endless hours
of dialogue by email and phone with companies
that provide automation and technology, working
with company representatives to provide us with
recommendations," Puri recalls.
"Preference was given to companies that could
show the tangible benefits of using their systems
and that had an understanding of our business,
from current to future needs," he continues. "The best
question we asked all providers we considered was,
'How does your system or equipment make a better
product for our customers?' It was amazing how many
providers couldn't answer the question outside the
scope of their equipment."

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Marine Fabricator July/August 2020

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