High Production Polishing


Flat-Edge Polishing in the Fabrication Shop

The stone industry is thriving, and stone fabricators are being pushed to their limits as far as how much production they can get out of the door daily. While business is busy, fabricators are voicing a few other pains in regards to labor and not enough time for the number of projects that need to be completed.

The industry is trending towards the flat-eased edge countertops. The majority of the stone industry is veering away from intricate edge detailing like ogee, bullnose, and waterfall edges. The design of countertops today is focused on modern, clean, and simple edges.

Fabricators are seeking ways to produce their modern-edged countertops more efficiently. There are two common bottlenecks amongst countertop fabricators. One common issue is that manually polishing backsplashes adds many extra hours of labor to a project. The other issue is that the CNC router has become the bottleneck in many fabrication shops and needs to be used more effectively. There are a couple ways to address the concerns of your shop, depending on the bottleneck occurring.

An automated solution, like a flat-edge polisher, will increase the overall efficiency of your shop whether the current bottleneck is labor, or an overloaded CNC router. A flat-edge polisher can be used for backsplash, as well as full height lineal slabs. Blake Wamstad, owner of Hatton Granite Countertops, shares, “We push 30 inches of material through our flat-edge polisher every minute.  It is a highly productive machine that has dramatically increased our productivity.” Based upon this rate of production at Hatton Granite, a fabricator can now produce as much edging in 1 hour that used to take 8 hours of hand polishing. Implementing a flat-edge polisher has a strong impact on a fabrication shop. The value of a machine like this pays for itself.

The addition of a machine that will polish flat-eased edges is validated not only because of its efficiencies, but also because it helps with labor reduction. Roger Atherton from Counter Effects states, “I am extremely happy with my flat edge polisher and the quality it produces. We have replaced two labor positions with two hours of machine operation. This saves us 14 labor hours per day. A helluva payback. We are very happy with our investment.” A top-of-the-line edge polisher has the capability of bringing a fabricator’s costs down a substantially. By investing in automation, a stone fabrication shop will reap the benefits daily.

Replacing a hand polishing position with a flat-edge polisher will not only cut down on hours per project, but also bring consistent predictability from project to project. An employee works at various speeds each day depending on a variety of factors. A machine will consistently run projects through at a steady pace, which makes scheduling out projects hassle-free. In addition, a machine will not call in sick or take vacation days. A flat-edge polisher will bring dependability into your shop.

The chart below compares the lineal feet polished daily between a hand polisher and a flat-edge polishing machine. A flat-edge polisher is capable of polishing up to 90 lineal feet per hour, while the average feet per hour that a hand polisher can finish is about 11.25 lineal feet. These numbers incorporate variables such as material type and material handling to reflect an accurate fabricator average. Based on an 8-hour shift, the flat-edge machine will have around 720 lineal feet polished and a hand polisher will have about 90 lineal feet polished in a day. The automation of a flat-edge polishing machine is about 8 times more efficient than the manual labor of a hand polisher.

Upgrading from using the manual labor of hand polishing backsplashes to utilizing a flat-edge polisher will save time and money. A flat-edge polisher finishes projects so quickly that even when it is resting between projects, it is saving money. Blake Wamstad explains the benefits of the added automation in his shop, as he shares, “It takes us 1 labor hour to complete a project on our flat-edge polisher that would normally take us 8 hours to finish with manual labor.” Hatton Granite saw such a stark difference in the time spent polishing each day with the addition of their flat-edge polisher.

Whether you are currently polishing edges by hand or utilizing a CNC router, a flat-edge polisher will streamline the process. The need for a solution is real, and automation is where the industry is heading towards. A CNC router that is at its capacity can be utilized more fully with an assisting machine.

Track your machine’s metrics and analyze whether your CNC router is currently overworked. If your CNC machine is creating a bottleneck, the solution is the addition of a flat-edge polisher. The flat-edge polisher is capable of assisting the CNC router to route and polish full height lineal slabs. They can work together to produce a greater number of high-quality projects. Take your shop to a higher level of productivity with a flat-edge polisher. It will save the operator’s time on projects at a low cost. In a single pass, a flat-edge polisher will edge, polish and chamfer countertops and backsplash at a rate of up to 150 lineal feet per hour. 

The load-and-go automation is fast and simple. Take the piece of stone off of your CNC saw and place it on the flat-edge polisher. In order to run linear tops through a flat-edge machine, there is no programming involved which will streamline the process even more. By utilizing an edge polisher, fabricators have the extra time on their CNC router to get more projects through it each day. It can all be done for pennies per lineal foot in tooling costs. A flat-edge polisher is a necessary addition to a stone fabrication shop that is utilizing a CNC router. The fabrication shop will experience the effects of the dynamic duo once it is in action.

As fabricators are busy in such a healthy economy, they need to be prepared to handle a high rate of production. The flat-edge polisher solution will ease the stress of time constraints, labor pains, and a CNC router at its maximum capacity. An edge polisher can assist fabricators in freeing up time on their CNC router, and the labor hours that hand polishers put into each project. Utilizing the automation of a flat-edge polisher, like the FASTBACK® II, fabricators will thrive in these prosperous conditions.

Check out the article featured in the Stone Update: High Production Polishing

Matt Zink Stone Sales Representative from Park Industries

Matt Zink
Park Industries® Sales Consultant for 13 years.