Country Blinds, Curtains & Shutters have recently invested in upgrading their German-made vacuum CNC fabric cutting table in their Mount Barker factory, all in the name of a better result for customers.
And just in case we lost you at ‘CNC fabric cutting table’, the back story to this one begins years ago. Faced with hundreds of cutting tasks each day involving huge lengths of cloth demanding accuracy down to the millimetre, Country Blinds’ owners put in weeks of research before importing a dedicated machine to do the job to the highest possible standard.
Country Blind’s vacuum table CNC fabric cutting machine is based around an enormous table onto which cloth is rolled out. The first step towards incredible accuracy is the vacuum factor. The table surface is perfectly flat but covered in tiny holes – think of an air hockey table with its functionality reversed. When cloth is laid out onto the table a powerful vacuum acts through these holes to suck the fabric down onto the surface, eliminating any wrinkles and also holding the fabric down firmly so that cutting can take place with no chance of any slippage.
With the fabric firmly held in place, cutting is taken care of with a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) gantry carrying a specialised blade. The gantry is a two-axis design, so the cutter can be moved ‘East – West’ as well as ‘North – South’ according to how it is programmed to create the fabric cut-out dimensions. The cutting head itself carries specialised blades depending on the type of fabric in use and seals the edge of the fabric as it cuts for the neatest possible finish, eliminating fraying.
That’s perhaps the longest possible way of explaining how dedicated Country Blinds are to delivering excellence for their customers…and it brings us back to asking why the vacuum CNC cutting table needed to be resurfaced.
“Even in an environment as clean as our factory and despite working with soft fabrics, surfaces eventually suffer wear simply through repeated use”, says Rhett Payne, Country Blinds Co-owners and General Manager. “Over the course of many years and many thousands of kilometres of fabric cut on the table, the surface was past its best. This meant it wasn’t quite as smooth as it was originally, and its vacuum action was slightly compromised. That might not sound like a big deal, but when one small cutting slip could ruin an enormous piece of premium quality cloth, it’s simply not worth the risk.”
With significant investment going towards the machinery for manufacture of blinds, curtains and awnings at Country Blinds factory – as well as maintenance of the machinery – many would be left wondering why the business doesn’t simply outsource all its manufacturing. “We could do that of course, but it would be a bad choice for several reasons. Needless to say doing it here means that we get to keep locals employed and as a family business that’s important to us. Secondly, we get to monitor production quality very closely – I’m onsite at the factory pretty much every day. And one more advantage is that if any of our customers ever has a problem with a product, they can speak directly to us, the manufacturer, and have the issue rectified with an absolute minimum of waiting.”
When asked about the future of manufacturing for Country Blinds, Mr Payne is enthusiastic. “The future is right here”, he says. “Myself and my brothers have no plans at all to take it anywhere else. Country Blinds is a local business owned and run by our family and that’s how we intend to keep it, in fact we’re planning to have something amazing for our children to take on if they choose to in the future. While ‘making it here’ continues to deliver benefits for our customers and satisfaction for our team, that’s what we’ll continue to do.”