“The combination of Cabinet Vision and Alphacam software is a modern-day chisel.”
Those are the words of Michael Cowell, a recently appointed director at Andrew Ryan Furniture. While chisels were state-of-the-art technology for woodworking craftsmen in a bygone era, he says software takes on that role today.
“Everyone uses a laptop or mobile device to do their job now, and the right software is every bit as important a tool as CNC machines. Manufacturers are only as useful as the tools they have, and as we only produce top quality bespoke furniture, Cabinet Vision and Alphacam are vital tools for us.”
Originally focusing on high end kitchens, the company has diversified into full house fit-outs with drawing rooms, studies, libraries, bedrooms and dressing rooms. Operating out of a prestigious showroom and 25,000 square foot manufacturing plant in Wexford, Ireland, they also have a smaller showroom at Monaco in the South of France.
Working with solid timber including oak and beech, and a variety of veneer boards and chipboards, all components go through Cabinet Vision or Alphacam and are outputted to their range of CNC machines where they are cut and then hand finished.
“It gives us full control of every component, from the start of the process when the raw material comes into the factory, right through to shipping the finished product.”
Director Aiden Ryan, who heads up the manufacturing operation, says they began using Cabinet Vision in 2006, shortly before he and his brother Dominic took over running the company from their parents. And Alphacam was part of the package when they invested in 5-axis routing technology two years later, which he says is critical for the business. “Many opportunities have opened up for us, as 5-axis machining gives us the advantage of being able to produce components that our competitors can’t.”
He says it has replaced the old crafts of working with hand routers and planers, both for components and making jigs. “Everything’s now done in a completely safe environment, and every finished component is exactly as we planned and designed it – absolutely micron perfect.”
Cabinet Vision powers a recently purchased Homag BCM drilling machine; and other CNC machine tools include a Holzma Beam Saw, Homag BMG 611 with 72-head tool changer, and BHX 200.
“The machines are interlinked, and we now work with either Cabinet Vision or Alphacam on every piece of timber and board that goes through the workshop, whether it’s a door, drawer box, cabinet, frame, plinth or moulding. Cabinet Vision produces standard parts, with Alphacam being used for complex shapes, especially curves...which probably represents one in four of our kitchen components.”
Seven employees use Cabinet Vision daily, and three work with Alphacam when required. Each project begins with a designer taking a brief from the customer regarding what they are looking for. The brief then goes into Cabinet Vision where the room is drawn by hand or using measurements from an architect’s plan to produce a concept design. “After being thoroughly checked and edited, we present it to the client either onscreen, as a printed drawing, or as a video. The design may need changing several times before it’s ready for manufacture, but that’s so quick and easy to achieve in Cabinet Vision.
“Once the customer approves the design, our drawing team output the NC code for the factory floor using Cabinet Vision’s Screen-To-Machine module, with complex components going through Alphacam.”
Michael Cowell’s recent appointment to head up the technical and commercial growth of the business marks a new phase in the company’s development plans. With a background of scaling and growing companies, he was recruited from Tom Howley Kitchens, which grew substantially from 2006, opening many showrooms across the UK. “A big part of its success story were the systems and software, and Cabinet Vision was the main design tool I used there.”
His role at Andrew Ryan Furniture is to foster scalable, sustainable and healthy growth in the Irish, UK and foreign markets. “Tools like Cabinet Vision are an immensely important part of that because as well as helping us design and manufacture fast and accurate products, they also provide us with structure that runs through the design, sales and drawing teams.”
And he says their development plans include finding, training and keeping key personnel to work with Cabinet Vision and Alphacam. “Our staff make the products and look after the customers, and we look after our staff by giving them the very best tools available.”
Concluding, Aiden Ryan says both Cabinet Vision and Alphacam are critical to the company’s future. “They’re the backbone of the whole process of design and manufacturing, giving us time to focus on other things, such as hand finishing.”