WATERBURY – Alive together, 25 bodies and six robots agilely about-face out 12,000 carbide-tipped saw blades a year at this baby specialty company.
Super Attenuate Saws makes and sharpens the annular saw blades acclimated by the manufacturers of copse flooring, furniture, kitchen cabinets, windows and doors. The actuality that the blades are thinner than the industry accepted – bottomward to 0.031 inches – appeals to ample manufacturers who appetite as abundant of their copse as accessible to end up as artefact and not as sawdust.
Super Attenuate Saws’ articles amount four to bristles times added than the thicker competition, but for companies acid up a ample aggregate of wood, the added amount is account it, said architect John Schultz, who owns the aggregation with two partners, above longtime advisers Rob Bisbee and Dave Strom.
“They are apparently putting 50 actor boards through saw blades, and they accept been spending $20,000 a year on blades,” said Schultz of ample copse articles companies. “So if we amateur or quadruple — or worse — the saw brand bill, it doesn’t absolutely amount as connected as we’re giving them a acceptable accumulation on their copse bill.”
Super Attenuate Saws’ agent dates aback to the 1970s, aback Schultz, again a ski coach, and his wife started what is now the Green Mountain Valley School. Both were alive at Bisbee’s Accouterments in Waitsfield to advice accomplish ends meet. The abundance did a active business in acid saw blades, and the brace saw an opportunity.
Schultz, who has a amount in abstruse mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has consistently apparent skiing as one of his top priorities. With connected abode abreast skiing in the Mad River Valley a must-have, he saw saw-sharpening as a acceptable befalling to moonlight.
Over the years, the aggregation grew, its fortunes ascent and falling with the apartment economy. In 2008, Schultz and his then-partners awash the business to a Florida company, and in 2011 he bought it aback with Bisbee and Strom.
Now Super Attenuate Saws occupies a above Ben & Jerry’s automated building. The aggregation buys laser-cut, heat-treated animate saw blades from two suppliers, and again puts the blades through an arrangement of processes to bout chump specs, soldering actual absolutely shaped carbide tips to the saw teeth.
The aggregation additionally does a active business acid saw blades for specialty manufacturers. Abounding of those saw-sharpening barter are ample companies in Quebec, Maine and New York, admitting Super Attenuate Saws has a brace of Vermont customers, amid them Appalachian Flooring, a Quebec-based aggregation with a accomplishment ability in Troy.
For abate outfits, such as best Vermont companies, the amount of aircraft or trucking blades for acid aloof isn’t account it, said Schultz.
“The little one-man and five-man shops in Vermont about-face out amazing product,” said Schultz. “But the account they charge is beneath big-ticket than what we offer. If busline were free, it’d accomplish added sense. But it’s alone account it to aces up blades in Maine, Quebec and New York because instead of acrimonious up one blade, we’re acrimonious up 40.”
Where Super Attenuate Saws excels is in packing acerbity into attenuate blades. Schultz uses a technology that was created in the 1950’s by Charles Berolzheimer, again the buyer of California Cedar Products, who capital to accomplish thinner blades for college efficiency, said Schultz.
“He admired copse and didn’t anticipate you should decay it,” he said.
Berolzheimer formed with a bounded saw architect and with the automated engineering administration at the University of California at Berkeley, who acclimated algebraic clay to assay how attenuate a saw brand could go. The advisers captivated seminars on the artefact but never commercialized it, said Schultz.
Schultz adopted the technology in the backward 1980s. He said the creators had captivated seminars about the attenuate saw blades, attractive for addition to commercialize the process, but the technology didn’t absorption ample saw companies because the bazaar was so small.
“We started dabbling,” he said. “Mostly all we had to do, with all the engineering appealing abundant done, was aloof accent it bottomward so it would assignment on real-world quarter-million-dollar machines, instead of custom million-dollar machines.”
Schultz and his wife, who were additionally active a ski abode in Moretown apple at the time, afflicted their company’s name from Schultz Tool Acid to Super Attenuate Saws.
Most of the company’s barter are in the U.S., but it additionally has relationships in Japan, Europe, South America, Australia, and China. The aggregation was the U.S. Baby Business Administration’s 2014 Vermont Exporter of the Year.
“We don’t actively attending for barter in China,” Schultz said. “But if they acquisition us, we don’t about-face them down.”
Creating a saw brand that won’t agitate or beat aback it’s spinning — which after-effects in a cut that isn’t beeline — is a circuitous automated task. Defects in the copse and accessory misalignments in the apparatus itself can actualize alongside armament on the saw blades.
It’s not aloof the acerbity of the annular brand that matters.
“It’s absolutely important to attach the appropriate tooth,” Schultz said. “If the chump is acid maple with an 8% to 10% damp content, you can adapt and clothier the angles. Or we’ll say, ‘You ability accede accepting a altered brand for that oak.’”
It’s actual absolute work. Yet the branch attic at Super Attenuate Saws looks like a apparatus shop, not a lab. The assignment of the robots, encased in animate cages, is bound to backbreaker like acrimonious up blades and affective them from one abode to another.
“If we gave that to addition as a job, they’d abdicate in a ages and a half,” Schultz noted. “We accept not yet alike toyed with application robots for austere work.”
The thinnest blades alpha out at about an eighth of an inch abreast the inside, and center out to the acid teeth they alpha accepting thinner, as attenuate as 0.031 inch area the carbide tips are absorbed with argent solder. Some of the tips are fabricated of abstracts such as polycrystalline design or a ceramics/carbide mix.
The better saw brand the aggregation works on is about 32 inches in diameter; 99% of the saws the aggregation sees are 25 inches or smaller. Super Attenuate Saws banned its acid assignment to automated saw blades, sending its accouterments store-type blades to a aggregation alleged the Acid Shed in Newport that comes by already a week.
Super Attenuate Saws has formed with the Vermont Accomplishment Extension Center, or VMEC, to apprentice amount beck mapping, a arrangement akin to just-in-time processes that accomplish the accomplishment attic added efficient. In the case of Super Attenuate Saws, that agency analogous the agenda so it doesn’t booty a brand 10 canicule to go through the all-important accomplish for acid aback it could aloof as calmly booty bristles days.
“It’s annoyingly big-ticket but able-bodied account it,” Schultz said of the VEMC training. “They do a acceptable job.” That amount was defrayed by a $40,000 admission in October from the accompaniment Administration of Commerce’s Vermont Training Program.
For the humans, the accomplishment runs on breach accouterment for 10 or 11 hours a day; for the robots, it’s 24 hours a day.
Like abounding Vermont manufacturers, Schultz said it’s not accessible award workers. There are alone two women at the company.
“We get women to administer to assignment here, but they don’t assume to like it and stay,” said Schultz, who lets workers accept their hours as connected as they break with the aforementioned schedule. One of the women, and some of the men, accept called a agenda that helps them administer childcare, he said.
“Long afore it was the alone way to get employees, we approved to accomplish it a acceptable abode to work,” he said.
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