You have been fabricating forever and have made the transition from no templates and building your tops on-site to corrugated cardboard templates and then on to luan plywood or plastic strips. You do not have a CNC router so you really do not feel you would benefit from electronic or digital templating. While you may not get the "full" benefit of electronic templating without CNC equipment in your production facility, there are still benefits to be found.
Before you decide I'm crazy and you are not going to spend that kind of money, take a closer look at your templating costs now and what electronic templating "really" costs.
- What are the actual costs of the materials for one year? (strips, glue, etc.)
- How much do you pay your template person for one year?
- What does it cost you to keep an inventory on the shelves?
- How often are there templating errors? You know everyone makes mistakes. What do these errors cost you in return trips, lost productivity or countertops that don't fit when you get there and you end up refabricating on-site?
- How many people do you have templating now? Electronic templating takes half the time or less than "stick" templating.
- How many do you need for your growth plans? If you are going to double your work over the next few years, you will need to double your templating capacity.
- Could you downsize your templating vehicle with a more economical vehicle?
Add up those real costs for your business and compare them to the "cost" of any of the electronic systems.
- The cost of "one" system is well under $15,000.
a. Additional costs for multiple template people depend on the system you purchase.
- The cost of a digital vinyl template cutter (this will take you from the digital information to the "hard template" you can't live without) is anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000. These "hard" costs together are probably less than you pay your template person for a year and the system will last for many years! This is called "life cycle costing" and is how we all used to sell solid surface against less expensive countertop materials.
- What is the value to your company's image to go from "sticks and glue" to the electronic age when in front of the consumer?
- If you have fewer people making templates, you can transfer those people to your production crew!
Electronic templating is a production tool! It is relatively low-cost technology that can "free up" labor to apply to other areas of your production. It is difficult to find labor today, so why not "automate" what you can and use that labor somewhere else?
"What is the best electronic templating system to use?" I can't answer this question for you. The answer will be different for each of you. Each system has different features and benefits, and you will need to look at them all to determine what is best for you and your company. Here are some of the questions you should consider:
- What is the cost of the system?
- What is the cost for additional template people?
- What is the cost of training? Yes, you MUST get training!
- Will my people embrace and use the system?
- Must I have a laptop computer on-site?
- How large an area do you service and is electronic transfer of data of any value?
- How many updates or how long will the system be up-dated for this cost?
- Can you template counters AND splashes easily? (horizontal AND vertical surfaces) Or just counters? Does this matter?
- Can I call people that use the system for testimonials?
- What kind of support staff do you have?
- What do we do to get from the digital information to a template/drawing/CAD file/etc.?
- How long does No. 11 really take?
- If you are currently doing quartz templating, or are considering getting started, many quartz fabricators are only accepting digital templates. You might want to take this into account when making the decision. What system do they prefer?
Change is not easy! "Hard templating" has been around a long time. This is how everyone began templating jobs (well, really corrugated cardboard, but I won't count that!) Your hard templating process has worked for you for years. There is an old saying that goes: "If we always do what we always did, we will always get what we always got." Unfortunately, this is no longer true in business. You run the risk of getting left behind by the competition. You should seriously consider making the move. After all, you have a cell phone, PDA, computer, e-mail . . .