Any working environment where slabs of quartz and granite are cut, ground and polished is bound to create its own unique set of challenges.
Diamond blades and other manufacturing equipment produce large amounts of dust that quickly get airborne into the highest reaches of a facility. High-pressure water jet technology is relied on for other cutting needs creating persistently wet and unsafe walking surfaces.
Custom Countertop Inc. in Lincoln, Neb. is a perfect example of these types of conditions where its 35 employees fabricate custom granite and quartz countertops (as well as other solid surface and laminate products) for a variety of residential and commercial customers.
Eyes and hands ultimately ensure product quality
The company, which opened in 1983, operates out of a 32,000 square-foot fabrication facility which includes a dedicated 10,000 square-foot granite shop completed in 2006. The shop contains a variety of equipment including a water recycling station, two CNC stonecutters, a bridge saw, jib cranes for handling material and a large custom polishing area.
Keep the air moving and walking surfaces dry in a harsh environment that includes temperature extremes, airborne stone dust and unsafe moisture on floors.
Two EPIC Colossus™ 20-foot diameter industrial HVLS fans operated via EPIC’s digital touch-screen remote.
Comfortable working conditions contributing to productivity improvements as well as dry floors in a persistently wet manufacturing environment.
In 2010, Custom Countertop Inc. added a Park Industries CNC SawJet to save time and improve productivity. The powerful sawing station can cut various shapes, logos and other designs through three-centimeter granite using 55,000 PSI water pressure while also utilizing a traditional diamond tip saw blade for straight cuts.
The company always “digitizes” its jobs on-site at each customer’s location before anything hits the shop’s templating machines. That way if a wall has some curve to it, the countertop will perfectly follow that radius.
Custom Countertop Inc.’s SawJet will follow radiuses to within 1/8 of an inch. The material is oversized so that a CNC router will then produce more precise dimensions. The countertop material then proceeds to polish and finishing when it’s inspected for any imperfections.
“While we like our machines, hand inspection is best,” according to Jason Deisley, Supervisor, Granite and Quartz Fabrication, Custom Countertop Inc. “The more hands and eyes on our products, the better chance of catching something before it reaches the customer.”
Investing in employee comfort and safety
Always looking for ways to invest in and improve its operation, Custom Countertop Inc. worked with IC Energy Solutions to improve the overall working environment for its employees.
The company was already relying on IC Energy Solutions to assist with improving the company’s lighting. Once Custom Countertop Inc. realized IC Energy Solutions could help with fans as well, that quickly became a win-win for both parties. As a result, the countertop fabricator installed two EPIC Colossus™ 20-foot diameter industrial HVLS fans operated via EPIC’s digital touch-screen remote.
Deisley admitted that his company had been relying on several floor fans to help keep employees cool during the hot summer months. He equated dealing with bouts of oppressive heat in his facility as “always being at the mercy of Mother Nature.”
“As you can imagine, we were always tripping over electric cords and having battles over access to electricity to keep the fans running,” Deisley explained. “That became a real nightmare. You even had to be within five to six feet of a fan just to get any relief, so it was hard to control all of that.”
Fans warranty a major plus
Deisley added that IC Energy Solutions’ General Manager, Robb Lierman, thoroughly knew what he was talking about and fully explained his company’s various industrial HVLS fan options and what would work best for relief during hot weather.
“Investing in our fans was essentially a no-brainer for us,” Deisley emphasized. “The initial expense was really worth it to help keep our employees happy and comfortable in the long run.”
Deisley added that IC Energy Solutions being local was a big plus, especially when he had any questions about the fans. “Working with Robb was a very simple process,” Deisley said, explaining as well that his company’s decision to invest in Epic fans essentially came down to the warranty and service offered with the fans.
“The life of the fans’ warranty and what it covers is very important to us due to our environment which has a lot of dust and moisture,” Deisley said. “That, along with extreme heat, cold and other variable elements add up to what is essentially an extreme manufacturing environment.”
Floor moisture safety issue eliminated
With the fans in place, Deisley is pleased that his company is experiencing much higher levels of productivity without employees leaving early due to extreme working conditions during hot weather. In the past, that would slow down overall production.
In addition to providing relief during hot weather, Custom Countertop Inc.’s fans are quickly drying out the granite shop’s floor that constantly gets wet from the SawJet’s overspray. That, in turn, causes unsafe working conditions. Deisley explained that when the fans are operating at about 70 percent of capacity, the water on the floor typically dissipates in as little as 15-20 minutes.
“In fact, the fans are doing such a good job at evaporating the water on our floors that they’re indirectly impacting our CNC machines’ water usage,” Deisley pointed out. “The machines rely on both water and suction cups to hold material in place, so when the fans are running, we just have to apply more water to ensure that the suction cups do their job.”
Cold weather’s a different story
During the winter months, Custom Countertop Inc. experienced a different set of challenges. Large rolling slat doors that constantly open and close meant ongoing exposure to cold temperatures and wind. Radiant heaters helped keep employees comfortable and ensure that water used during stone cutting and polishing didn’t freeze.
Now, with the company’s EPIC HVLS fans running about 30 to 40 percent of capacity, they keep the warm air circulated and moving toward floor level. “We actually run one fan in reverse and one forward which helps to really mix the air for our particular application,” Deisley remarked.
He commented further, “Our Epic fans are super easy to use and very quiet. We’d recommend them any day of the week to anybody based on the great service we’ve experienced, their outstanding warranty and excellent product quality.”