When it comes to curating this type of atmosphere, there is no limitation to these retailer’s imaginations. Their goal is to make you feel like you’re worth a million bucks, even if you’re not. However, with this level of creative production, they need a solution provider they can trust to turn their dreams into their customers’ realities.
From Humble Beginnings
Founded in 1935 as a furniture repair shop, Goebel Fixture Company has evolved into one of the most respected and trusted brands in the business of high-end custom store fixtures and architectural millwork for luxury retailers. Based in Hutchinson, Minnesota, Goebel has designed, built, and installed custom store fixtures for the likes of some of the most well-known names in high-end retail. Their mission is to turn creative vision into visual and practical works-of-art for their clients.
Due to the custom nature of their designs, the materials that Goebel works with are as vast and unique as their clientele. This means purchasing and managing a wide variety of sheet materials, all of which need to be inventoried, stored, located and transported for cutting and processing. The more varied the materials, the more challenging and labor-intensive this process becomes. As Troy Rohach, plant manager for Goebel’s Minnetonka facility, explains, “If they can think of it, they’ll want it, and we have to figure out how to do it.”
A Solution for High-End Demands
To meet the high-demands of their unique clients, Goebel started researching ways to automate material sorting and handling in their Minnetonka plant. The way that materials were currently being handled was extremely labor-intensive and spatially inefficient, making productivity and efficiency difficult.
At the time, we had a couple of older routers and all of our sheet stock was being stored vertically in racks. And on top of all that, using manual labor and a forklift system is just dangerous,” says Rohach.
Rohach knew that if Goebel wanted to remain competitive and reflect their commitment to continuous improvement, they needed to step into new and unfamiliar territories, just as they had done over 65 years ago when they transitioned from a small furniture repair shop to the high-end retail fixture industry.
After considerable research, the team narrowed the possibilities to two systems, the HOMAG Automation IntelliStore panel storage and handling system and a similar competing system by an Italian manufacturer. Ultimately, Goebel decided that HOMAG’s InstelliStore TLF 411 would best reflect the company’s commitment to future growth and forward-thinking.
The most intelligent panel management system available, the IntelliStore system is perfectly suited for companies, like Goebel, that specialize in low batch volumes and use a wide variety of board types, colors and sizes.
The IntelliStore can load, stack, retrieve, prioritize, evaluate, feed, sort and store panel materials, while simultaneously reducing labor costs, maximizing material yield, and eliminating damage to workpieces during production. Additionally, the IntelliStore drastically reduces the amount of floor space required for storage, forklift traffic, and manual material handling, something that was of vital importance to the Goebel team.
With the assistance and guidance of Stiles Machinery, Rohach and his team carefully planned a two-week installation process that would not disrupt Goebel’s ongoing production schedule.
We strategically planned it so that we could keep the panel saw and one CNC router in production,” says Rohach. “The ability to keep inventory in control, neat and organized is huge.”
Rohach also noted that his plant is currently only using about 25 percent of the IntelliStore’s available storage capacity. “So, there is a lot of room for future growth,” he explains.
Setting the Stage for Growth
Less than a year after installation, Goebel is experiencing dramatic improvements in time, efficiency, safety and overall production flow; meeting the company’s business goals and exceeding their expectations.
Our staff no longer has to lift heavy sheets or manually load them, it’s all done automatically. The area, which had required two or three workers, is now run by just one,” says Rohach.
Rohach went on to explain that the additional staff has been moved to other phases of production, further increasing efficiencies in those areas.
In the near future, Goebel plans to implement an ERP system from Global Shop Solutions that will integrate with the IntelliStore system, as well as add 3D modeling capabilities through SolidWorks CAD software. Ultimately, Rohach hopes to double the plant’s current production size.
I think we could do that very easily with IntelliStore system along with the integration of another router,” he explains.
The IntelliStore is part-one of a multi-faceted improvement strategy that will allow the company to handle more materials, produce new types of products and increase their customer base, while simultaneously alleviating the seasonal ebb and flow of store fixture production.