How Better Software Helped Custom Woodworker Reduce Turn-Around Times
OGB Architectural Millwork Inc. (OGB) is a progressive, full-service custom manufacturer based in Albuquerque, NM. Backed by 80 employees and an impressive array of automated woodworking equipment, OGB is big enough to successfully complete multi-million-dollar projects while also being sufficiently nimble to take on smaller, fast-track jobs.
OGB’s long and diverse resume includes bank lobbies, corporate conference tables, architectural ceilings, casework for hospitals and medical offices, retail store fixtures, museum displays and high-end residential installs. Much of OGB’s handiwork involves producing curvilinear parts and architectural details. Projects mix and match solid wood, veneers, thermally-fused laminate, high-pressure laminate, acrylic, and solid surface materials.
Keeping such a wide and diverse assortment of projects on schedule is a constant challenge for OGB’s project management and production teams. OGB not only met this challenge but significantly improved its entire design-to-manufacturing process by investing in new software.
Up until two years ago, OGB was a Microvellum Software customer. Oscar Olivas, Lead Programming Engineer for OGB, said the company began actively looking to upgrade from Microvellum version 6/7 to version 7. “Then we started to hear good things about woodCAD|CAM.”
Since then, woodCAD|CAM has become OGB’s secret weapon. It’s a robust, all-encompassing software that not only speeds and enhances the process of project and product design, but also makes it a breeze to edit on the fly. woodCAD|CAM then instantly translates final designs into machine code to facilitate seamless production of parts.
Olivas stated, “We researched both programs and the more we looked, the more intrigued we were by the way woodCAD|CAM operates. Microvellum requires using a lot of formulas; woodCAD|CAM does not. We saw that as a huge advantage.”
Scott Devizio, who also works in OGB’s design and engineering department, elaborated on Olivas’ comments about what made woodCAD|CAM worth a closer look. “For example, to insert a lock in a door using Microvevllum we needed to write a formula to place the hole. With woodCAD|CAM, we simply draw a hole where we want it. It does the calculations in the background without the programmer having to think about it.”
Even with this and other potential advantages of woodCAD|CAM in mind, Olivas and Devizio each said that upgrading to the next generation of Mircrovellum would probably have made more sense in the short run because of their working familiarity with the software. But, in the long term, based on past experience, they also realized that teaching new members of their growing department to use Microvellum would not be easy.
Ultimately, OGB decided to bank its future fortunes on woodCAD|CAM and the pledge of personalized support from RSA Solutions.
“Once we got used to it, it’s actually pretty easy,” Olivas said. “The learning curve was just understanding how woodCAD|CAM does things differently than Microvellum.”
Devizio said it quickly became apparent that the decision to switch software programs was a good one. “woodCAD|CAM allows us greater freedom for customization and it’s a lot easier to edit designs,” Devizio said. “You can draw an entire room with six or seven cabinets in it. If you want to make changes to the color, shelving or hardware placement of one cabinet, it’s much easier to do with woodCAD|CAM. Microvellum did not allow us to easily isolate a single box in a run of cabinets, whereas woodCAD|CAM lets us change any box property in any run, giving us a lot more control of the release of a product’s part requirements to the shop floor.”
Devizio added that woodCAD|CAM has also proven to be a superior solution for radius walls and other more complex geometries. “I would say that it is easily at least twice as fast to design these products using woodCAD|CAM,” Devizio said. “Some of the work we do is so custom that I don’t even know how I would have done them with Microvellum.”
To illustrate his point, Devizio pointed to the buffet line and other casework that OGB designed, manufactured and installed for the La Posada student dining hall at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. “woodCAD|CAM was able to handle the complex shapes of the walls,” he said. “This project took me a month to design. I would not have been able to design this in Microvellum. I would have had to draw in AutoCAD lines and extrude the parts and manually nest the parts.”
Additionally, OGB has found that it is easier to train new hires to become productive members of the programming team. “woodCAD|CAM is a lot more user-friendly as you do not need to know how the background formulas work,” Olivas said. “Once the products and variables are set up, it does not take long for a new employee to learn how to insert items and manipulate the product designs.”
“We have one new hire who didn’t even know AutoCAD when he started here,” Devizio said. “After six months of using woodCAD|CAM, we felt comfortable to give him a simple room to design for release to production. If we were still using Microvellum, I don’t think he would be as far along as he is.”
In the final analysis, Olivas and Devizio said switching to woodCAD|CAM has helped OGB maximize its CNC production capabilities, including several new CNC machines from Stiles Machinery. The powerful combination of time-saving, intelligent software and more productive advanced technology has helped OGB achieve back-to-back years of high-double-digit sales growth without having to expand the manufacturing footprint within its 28,000-square-foot facility.
In a nutshell, Devizio said, “The biggest advantage of woodCAD|CAM is much quicker turn-around. And, as far as our ability to produce one-off products, it’s like night and day between Microvellum and woodCAD|CAM.”