In this article, Furniture Production speaks to one of Imos’ newest UK customers to discover how its state-of-the-art solutions have helped transform the business …
Workplace furniture designer Spacestor appreciates how much influence the office environment can have on the productiveness of employees. With extensive experience in the field derived from working with clients including Google, Apple and Jaguar Land Rover, Spacestor has developed a range of furniture products to help maximise staff engagement.
Spacestor’s mission to “combine California cool with London design”– a mantra that comes to life in its design centres in California and Clerkenwell – requires some of the most advanced design tools available.
The company, which creates workplace solutions for clients including BMW, Georgio Armani, Zurich, Samsung, HSBC and Microsoft, boasts around 500 UK clients, principally in the commercial and education sectors. Spacestor employs around 200 people, most of which operate from its headquarters in Hemel Hempstead.
The number of CNC machines in operation there has grown steadily in recent years, says operations manager Leo Kingston. “Our CNCs were manually programmed before we implemented Imos’ software, but they ended up linking together very well,” he says. “Summer is our busiest period – this year in particular, Imos has proved absolutely invaluable for the production of bespoke units.”
Five years ago, Spacestor invested in a software package that proved unable to achieve the company’s specific construction methods and more creative design requirements, as it seemed designed solely for cabinets – so Leo did not have high expectations for Imos’ solutions at the outset.
However, the new software, which was installed around six months ago, has proved eminently flexible, dealing well with both standard and non-standard parts, including elements sourced from external suppliers.
“Our focus has turned to using the software for the more unique and bespoke elements of the furniture,” says Leo. “Initially, we required it to deal with our standard ranges, but were excited to see its potential come to fruition when utilising it for our popular Snugglestor range and railway carriage products.
“During training, we were excited to see the way it could handle the more challenging architectural products we offer. The capabilities of the package meant we actually changed focus once we started implementing it – there was a quick win in using it for our completely bespoke cupboard system, Forte, as we could design and make almost anything we were asked for, and build it with our new dowelling system.”
Leo says that Spacestore specialises in a ‘C’ construction method, in which a standalone cabinet is first assembled on site, and any subsequent cabinets share an adjoining side panel – an approach that reduces material and assembly costs, but makes the manufacture and CNC programming behind the shared parts more complex.
Imos’ software has truly come into its own in bridging the gap between design and machine, says Leo. “We previously had numerous process and stages involved,” he says. “Processing a job from sales through to manufacture required a number of people to pass information on in a timely manner – including the costing and taking off of required parts from stock, material to be machined and fitting to be collated.
“When we first presented our process to in3D, including the design stage using our previous CAD/CAM software, they were confident that they would be able to automate and simplify the entire process. We now have CAD/CAM software that not only lets our project managers and production designers create presentation drawings and visuals, but also the required paperwork and reports that our estimators and project co-ordinators need in order to track a job though.
“Also, being able to instantly generate the CNC programmes for the standard and bespoke parts is something we couldn’t do previously.”
The support provided by in3D, both in the form of on-site training and remotely via the internet, has proved extremely helpful, says Leo, whose team, having undergone an intensive training course, now makes frequent contact with the supplier to discuss specifics. Additionally, now the CAD/CAM modules are installed and connected to the machines at Spacestor, the manufacturer has implanted custom reports that use data supplied by Imos to further distribute specific manufacturing information to various departments within the factory.
“At this stage, while we are still learning and finding more and more uses for the software within the company, we are frequently in touch with the team at in3D,” says Leo. “They are extremely helpful, quick to respond and often provide us with more than just support.
“We are really excited that soon we’ll have the costing elements set up, which will in turn help streamline our estimation and quoting process. We are currently investigating how our online presence can benefit our customers by using the SQL [a special-purpose programming language] data.”
Spacestor prides itself on producing imaginative commercial storage solutions tailored to the needs of each client, and Imos’ software means that its work for clients big and small – in the UK and Silicon Valley – has the potential to reach new heights of flexibility and efficiency.
Regarding the solutions and service provided by in3D Software, Leo concludes: “I can’t fault it. It is so flexible. With this software, I believe that everything is possible.”
Imos will be at W16 on stand K900.