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Case Study: Large Cabinet Manufacturer on West Coast

A well known cabinet manufacturer on the west coast wanted to streamline abrasives suppliers after an acquisition. While the manufacturer representatives did not initially perceive serious issues with their sanding process, they approached Uneeda to find cost-saving solutions and improve their sanding process.

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Competitor's Abrasives Avg. Unit Cost

$.0172

Uneeda Unit Cost

$.0073

UNIT COST SAVINGS TO DATE

57.56%

OBJECTIVE

Show a 30%+ cost savings vs. the current competitors' unit cost.

PROCESS

Uneeda sent its technical team to the company's main factory and spent a full month conducting tests. During this time, Uneeda wide belt technicians made machine adjustments to improve the condition of the machinery. Data for the full month was collected, analyzed and used to determine the following steps.

STEP ONE: CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIAL

For whitewood sanding, Uneeda uses mostly an aluminum oxide grain that is “friable”. This means that our aluminum oxide grains re-sharpen when they fracture. Once the grain fractures, new sharp grains are exposed. A lot of competing brands use standard aluminum oxide grains that dull after the initial, sharp tip is broken.

  • The crushing of the grain rather than the shaving of the grain, which is a very common cause of blotchy finish.
  • It causes increased heat buildup, which will cause the product to wear out quicker than Ekamant brand products.
  • With the excessive pressure required to achieve a good rate of cut, a deeper scratch is put into the surface being sanded. This result makes it more difficult to remove cross-grain scratches. The deeper scratch also causes the customer to use more finishing materials such as stain and lacquer.

The grains then continue to dull as they fracture and wear. This dulling of the grain requires the end-user to use much more pressure on competing brands of sandpaper to accomplish the same cut as they achieve with our grains under light pressure. This can cause many problems to include:

Uneeda

Competition

Original state

Consistent grain height

Competition’s grain is not uniform in height and results in an uneven scratch pattern

After original tip is broken

New sharp edges are formed

  • Grains refracture at a consistent rate
  • As grains refracture, new sharp points are exposed

Edges get dull

  • Grains round off instead of refracture
  • Due to inconsistent grain height, both sharp and dull grains are being used
  • More sanding pressure is used for proper stock removal.

STEP TWO: Process Changes

Uneeda determined that a process change in the type of belt material that was being used on the first head of both wide belt machines was absolutely needed. The company had traditionally run # 80 grit cloth belts. We did some experimentation the first day of testing and found that # 80 grit paper was the more appropriate choice to run on the first head as the paper belt was running much cooler than the # 80 grit cloth. 

A second process change implemented by the company that should also be noted is the addition of the roller to the front of the first machine to ensure only the correct sized parts are fed into the machine. This helps reduce the possibility of burning due to excessive part thickness and also helps ensure the machine components remain level for longer periods of time.

Adjustments Door Face Sander (4 head)

 

Machine Part #

Type of Part

Left Side Measurement in Inches

Difference Before Adj. in Inches

Right Side Measurement in Inches

Comments

Before Adj.

After Adj.

Before Adj.

After Adj.

 

1

Rubber Hold Down Roller

-.1370

 

.002

-.1350

 

 

2

Rubber Hold Down Roller

-.1370

 

.002

-.1350

 

 

3

Leading Shoe

-.0470

 

.0015

-.0455

 

 

4

Metal Serrated Drum

-.0730

 

.001

-.0740

 

Belt was not hitting part prior to the adjustment made during the setting of the stock removal.

5

Trailing Shoe

-.0175

-.0160

.098

-.1155

-.0165

 

6

Rubber Hold Down Roller

-.1380

 

.001

-.1370

 

 

7

Rubber Hold Down Roller

-.1388

 

.0013

-.1375

 

 

8

Leading Shoe

-.0565

 

.002

-.0545

 

Shoe is worn. Has a dip in it on the right hand side.

9

Rubber Drum

-.0780

-.0820

.0315

-.1095

-.0825

 

10

Rubber Hold Down Roller

-.1495

 

 

-.1495

 

 

11

Rubber Drum

See Comments

 

 

See Comments

 

Rubber worn on right side. Could not level with indicator. Leveled by running parts from left to right.

12

Rubber Hold Down Roller

-.2880

-.2605

028

-.2600

-.2600

 

13

Platen

-.2445

-.1960

.0415

-.2030

-.1960

Hitting too hard. Raised platen during setting of stock removal.

14

Rubber Hold Down Roller

-.2385

 

 

 

-.2390

 

 

 

STEP THREE: Implement Uneeda’s unique tech program

To get the best possible belt life and quality finish, it is imperative that each component of the machine is set to the correct heights and leveled, and for the sanding drums and platens to be level and removing the correct amount of material per grit used. We conducted preliminary testing. At that time, we found many of the components of the wide belt machines to be out of level.

Our factory technicians made several adjustments to the machine. In addition to the adjustments we made, a representative from the wide belt sander manufacturer worked in tandem with us on the machine. We then provided the company with a custom technical maintenance program to ensure the machine stays in top operational condition.  The maintenance department is now charged with the task of checking the machine heads on a regularly scheduled basis.    

Results

Uneeda’s wide belt technicians made all the necessary adjustments that improved the efficacy of the machinery. A new material change resulted in much longer life of the sanding belts, leading to a cost reduction of over %57.

In conclusion, the long testing period led to many improvements being made to the sanding process, including a new scheduled, weekly maintenance program that facilitates consistent sanding results, with correct, predictable stock removal rates. This focus on maintaining the machines greatly reduced belt breakage and burning, and belt life was greatly extended.

Uneeda was also able to determine a few bonus cost savings that were easy for the company to implement:

  • Used belts from the Heesemann sander should be run on the door back sander on the main sanding line. The company at the time was using # 150 and # 220 grits on that machine. Both grits would be acceptable to run on the backs. These were extra cost savings that were not being captured.
  • We also proposed to test running a wider belt on the double end tenenors, while changing the type of joint at the same time. In making these two changes, it would enable the company to flip the belts over to ensure they are using the entire belt. This should further reduce the usage by almost half.

Request the full case study report (PDF)

Request the full case study report now and learn more about the complete process Uneeda applied to lower abrasives costs and improve the sanding operations of this large cabinet manufacturer located on the west coast of the US.

Inside the full report:

  1. Overview of Uneeda’s testing process & detailed results
  2. How & why process changes impacted overall cost savings, quality control, consistency and efficiency
  3. How machine maintenance recommendations from our technical team led to cost savings and an upgrade in consistency and quality
  4. The impact of quality data collection and chart of actual data collected and changes made to machinery
  5. Technical details about Uneeda abrasives and how they impacted the finish results, improved quality, efficiency and efficacy
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