engineering, design and sales, including staffing a
downtown showroom. Manufacturing, warehouse,
and assembly facilities are about 16,000 square feet.
The brothers also capitalized on on-going help
from a Canadian National Research Council program that aided them in adopting the latest technology beginning about five years ago. Muskoka received
a federal grant of $70,000 through the Eastern
Ontario Development Program (EODP) to assist the
cabinet manufacturer with costs related to developing its new robot applications to improve the process
and speed of loading and unloading CNC machines.
Contrary to the usual perception of robots replacing
jobs, this particular project was designed to help create up to 10 new jobs.
The most striking difference between Muskoka
Cabinet Company and typical cabinet manufacturers is how it moves material, especially with robots.
Luke Elias said he worked closely with Automa Tech
Robotik in Quebec.
Under the system, robots handle loading sheets
onto the CNC router, unloading cut parts, and
diverting appropriate parts to horizontal boring and
dowel insertion. The robots also handle applying
RFID labels to prefinished parts and inserting RFID
tags to parts that require additional finishing. It isn’t
until edgebanding that there is any need for manual
handling of the parts.
Elias told attendees at the Woodworking Industry
Conference that using robots this way also required
thinking differently about laying out machinery. Instead of the square, right-angle machine layouts most
factories use, Muskoka has machines arrayed more
like spokes on a wheel with the robot at the hub.
Automated guided vehicles
You’ve probably heard of all the hubbub about self-guided, driverless cars. Well, Muskoka uses a similar
technology to move parts around the shop. The company developed automated guided vehicles (AGVs)
tailored specifically to their factory’s needs.
Robot in use at Muskoka Cabinet Co.
Whether removing or adding a part to a SMART cart,
lighted indicators show exactly where the part is, so there is
no delay searching through parts to find the right ones.
Luke Elias, President, Muskoka Cabinet Co.