Creating one-of-a-kind projects is all in a day’s work at Mark Lohan Kitchens, a 25-year-old kitchen and furniture company that uses modern tools to produce highly custom products without sacrificing the quality inherent to traditional craftsmanship.
Based in a 30,000 square-foot workshop in Roscommon, Ireland, the company’s roughly 40 employees manufacture mid to high-end kitchens and bespoke furniture using the CABINET VISION design-to manufacturing solution.
Used to design projects and generate the G-code needed to program computer-numerical control (CNC) machinery for 90 percent of the company’s projects, the software enables staff to produce highly custom work much more efficiently than it did cutting projects by hand.
“The biggest challenge that we face is the range of kitchens and cabinets that we make, and the volume that we produce,” said Operations Manager Darren Beatty. “The software helps us reduce human error, which increases our quality and precision and gives us a lot more confidence in our products.”
Producing a wide range of projects at high volumes entails a great deal of management, especially considering that each of the company’s jobs is unique and requires significant attention to detail.
After carefully considering its options, Mark Lohan Kitchens implemented CABINET VISION in 2020 to help it better manage its high volume of custom projects by automating several error-prone and time-consuming tasks, including the creation of cut lists and materials reports needed for job planning. It was also challenged with efficiently cutting parts by hand and laboriously tracking those parts through production.
Chosen partially due to the level of knowledge about the Irish furniture industry exhibited by CABINET VISION personnel, the software has helped the company achieve improved control over cabinet-assembly processes. Even before machining begins, the company’s assembly team is briefed and potential issues are discussed before problems arise.
Implementing the software has also helped the company to cut projects more efficiently by using its nesting capabilities for parts that can be cut using sheets of material. Because the software will automatically break cabinet projects into the number of required sheets, the company can quickly determine how many sheets are needed, as well as how long it will take to cut each sheet.
“Knowing how much material and machine time we need for each project gives us great comfort because we know the amount of work that we have coming up,” said Beatty, who added that nesting capabilities have also helped the company to reduce waste. Likewise, the software’s ability to efficiently process offcuts has made scrap more manageable.
To manage parts after they’re cut, Mark Lohan Kitchens uses the software’s labelling function to label parts as they come off of its Biesse Rover KFT CNC router. Labelling parts with identifying information makes it much faster and easier to locate and track them through finishing, assembly, loading, and even on-site fitting activities.
“We use labelling for tracking parts through the workshop, to help our team loading the vans identify each part, and to help our fitting team on site. It also helps the machine operator know what parts need edging and which edges to use. It’s truly fool proof and eliminates all human error.”
To begin a project in the software, the company may import a file created with a computer-aided-design (CAD) system, but often designs projects by entering the dimensions of the space in which the project will be installed. Information about hardware, cabinet and door colours and styles, and cabinet and drawer construction methods are then added to the design.
Using the software’s automation tools, the company then drags and drops cabinets saved in its customised library of cabinet styles, which significantly cuts programming time by eliminating the need to draw cabinets from scratch.
“The software allows us to build our cabinet library for all of our numerous types of kitchens,” Beatty said. “As each kitchen has a different construction method, we can delve into the finer detail for each cabinet — such as pre-bored holes for assembly, as well as pull outs and other types of internal accessories.”
While many of the company’s cabinets are standard units that can be added to designs without the need for adjustments, the software’s object intelligence function makes it easy to make changes when needed. Using object intelligence, even assemblies can be altered without the need to resize each component individually.
Implementing CABINET VISION has helped Mark Lohan Kitchens achieve greater control over every facet of production by understanding the unique requirements of each project before manufacturing begins.
While automation capabilities simplify the creation of cut lists and material reports and make it possible to efficiently nest parts, customisable tools that enable users to reuse cabinet designs ensure that time spent programming pays long-term dividends.
Likewise, removing the guesswork from production supports more efficient material and machine use and ensures that employees spend more time on meaningful tasks because they’re spending less time solving problems.
About the company
Company name: Mark Lohan Kitchens
Business: Custom kitchens and bespoke furniture
Key benefits achieved:
- Greater control over every aspect of production
- Increased automation has reduced or eliminated repetitive programming tasks
- Labelling function helps track cut parts through finishing, assembly, loading, and on-site fitting activities