For decades, the Homag Group has been recognised as a world leader in woodworking machinery for the wood panel industry. As with many things in life, once a strong reputation is established, it can mask other areas of strength that can go almost unnoticed. In many ways that is true of the joinery solutions the Homag Group has introduced to the market over the last 20 years or so.
In particular, the innovations in advanced CNC machinery have firmly placed the Homag group at the forefront of the joinery market. Along with Homag, specialist CNC group member Weeke has pushed the boundaries developing equipment that has revolutionised joinery manufacturing processes.
In this overview article Furniture Production looks at two British high-quality joinery companies that have transformed their businesses with the introduction of CNC solutions from the Homag Group.
Homag doubles productivity for Silverlining Furniture
Since its inception in 1985, Silverlining has become one of Britain’s leading furniture makers. It has achieved this through founder Mark Boddington’s love of wood and his passion for perfection in the world of furniture design and production. His company’s innovative and award-winning furniture can be found in palaces, museums, galleries, corporate headquarters, high-end residences and superyachts worldwide.
Mark learned his trade under the watchful eye of renowned furniture designer, John Makepeace OBE. At just 21, Mark opted out of his family’s famous brewing empire to launch his own business, Silverlining – a name which was inspired by his early use of inlaid silver in furniture.
Early commissions included work for the Grosvenor family’s remodelled Eaton Hall, the most significant of which was a suite of furniture including 14 English walnut and exotic inlaid wood dining chairs.
By the 1990s, Silverlining was creating and exporting furniture for clients around the world, including pieces for David Bowie’s London and New York homes, and for Kevin Costner’s Hollywood mansion. Also, since its first commission for furniture for a superyacht – the Royal Motor Yacht, Claire, owned by Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei – the company has established a longstanding affiliation with the yachting fraternity.
As you’d expect from such a prestigious furniture maker, the company has always prided itself on the outstanding craftsmen it employs to create its masterpieces. With the rapid expansion of the business, the challenge it faced was how it could keep up with an ever-increasing demand for its bespoke furniture and push the limits of 21st century design and craftsmanship with technology and material innovations.
Luke Briggs, CNC production manager for Silverlining takes up the story: “We carve a lot of furniture legs out of solid wood and historically this has taken our craftsmen two or three days to hand-carve each leg. That’s a very labour intensive exercise and one which was causing a bottleneck in production.
“The issue we faced was how to speed up this operation without any loss of quality. John Lambert, our senior project manager, researched the market and decided a state-of-the-art CNC machine was a potential solution.
“As you can imagine, for such a prestigious furniture maker as Silverlining, ordering the company’s first CNC machine was a real leap of faith. I have to say, however, we have all been blown away by the performance of the Homag machine.
“It’s the first Homag CNC I’ve run and despite the high tech specification, it is so reliable; you press the go button and it just churns through the work producing outstanding quality results, time after time. Table legs that previously took two or three days to craft by hand are completed and ready for the next process in less than two hours; it’s just amazing and so easy to use. The woodWOP software that controls the Venture 316 is totally user-friendly. I went on a four-day training course at Homag UK’s Castle Donington headquarters and came away bubbling with enthusiasm about the capabilities of the package.”
For Silverlining, the introduction of the Homag Venture 316 five-axis CNC processing centre has more than doubled the production capacity of the business. It has eliminated the need to put a lot of work out to sub-contractors, some of which were hundreds of miles away, and so it has had a very positive environmental benefit for the business too.
“The demand for luxury interior furniture design is growing and clients are becoming ever-more discerning. Technology, such as a CNC, not only allows us to speed up mundane labour intensive processes but also it makes demanding design concepts achievable.
“The Venture 316 has been a true success story for the business in every way. It does what we thought it would and a whole lot more. It’s quick, reliable and easy to use, consistently delivering outstanding results. What’s more, the people at Homag UK are always helpful, professional and honest with us. I have no doubt when we need another CNC, Homag will be at the top of our wanted list,” concludes Luke Briggs.
Taylor Made Joinery Interiors improves quality of finish with Homag equipment
For joinery and interior fit-out specialist, Taylor Made Joinery Interiors (TMJ), quality and cutting-edge technology are everything. With over 30 years of experience, the company produces specialist joinery for high profile and blue chip clients as well as prestigious private residential customers, all of whom expect perfection.
When TMJ was looking at modernising its CNC machinery it chose Homag for its reputation as the worldwide market leader in quality, reliability and cutting edge technology. Pat Coll, the production director of TMJ, he explains: “As a company, we are always looking to move forward with the times; two of our CNC machining centres were in need of modernising and so we began to research the market.
“We already had Homag equipment in our works and have always enjoyed a more than satisfactory experience with the company. In my opinion, Homag is the best on the market and so, after careful consideration, we pressed ahead ordering two five-axis Homag BMG 611 CNC machines and one three-axis Weeke BHX 055 Optimat CNC from Homag UK.”
“The CNCs have increased our product throughput because they are generally quicker, easier to set up and deliver a higher quality of finish straight off the machine. They have also achieved a significant cost saving.
“With the modern controls and increased processing power, the five-axis paths are faster and smoother than those we had before, with better geometry tracking at high feed speeds.
“Homag’s patented Sorb Tech composite bed construction has been a major plus for us due to its ability to absorb almost all vibrations into the machine frame. This along with our Tribos tooling system has resulted in a superior surface finish compared to that possible from conventional CNC machines. Improving product quality is something that we are always striving to achieve and through the modernisation of our equipment we have certainly met this goal.
“In addition to the production gains, our factory and employees have also enjoyed positive benefits from the new machines. The controllable dust extraction hood on the Homag is a much better process and has led to superb extraction flow. The general working environment is therefore a lot cleaner and tidier which has improved our overall health and safety.
“When dealing with the worldwide market leader in woodworking machinery you automatically have high expectations and there is no doubt that Homag UK met those.
“Their machines are of an extremely high standard and the whole experience we’ve had with Homag has been great. We’ve maintained a relationship with them for quite a few years and they always provide a friendly service. If we ever have any issues, there’s always someone for us to speak to. They provide a friendly, helpful service as well as exceptional quality machinery,” concludes Pat.