Shield Casework's award winning designs can be seen in hospitals, universities, and sports arenas across the nation. This savvy casework firm eliminated bottlenecks in its manufacturing process with the addition of lean manufacturing technology in the form of a table saw fence.
The Shield Casework story is a familiar tale. We have all, in a sense, heard it again and again. It draws similar parallels to the unintentional beginnings of Coca Cola, Post-It Notes, Pace Makers, and even Ice Cream Cones. Each of the aforementioned inventions sprung to life out of fluke and happenstance. But luck alone isn’t what made these accidental inventions into the forces of nature they are today. A visionary recognized something great when he saw it and struck while the iron was hot. Just like his famous predecessors did before him, the President of Shield Casework, Stephen Hopkins, knew a great idea when he saw one.
Shield Casework launched in 2011 as a spin-off of the Kansas City-based experiential design firm, Dimensional Innovations. At the time, the current president of Shield Casework, Stephen Hopkins, was working in Dimensional’s Innovation Lab. His team was tasked with developing a specialized sink that would mitigate the spread of infection and illness. The sink was designed to light up as a reminder to employees to wash their hands frequently.
The sink received fair feedback. It was a nice solution, but evaluators were intrigued elsewhere. The star of the show revealed itself to be the solid surface cabinet in which the sink was encased. The solid surface was nonporous and waterproof, making it particularly easy to sanitize. Stephen realized that because the material didn’t harbor bacteria it was perfect for any healthcare environment, and thus Shield Casework was born.
Shield Casework's Solid Surface Operating Room
What started as purely a solid surface healthcare company grew quite rapidly. In 2014 Shield Casework moved out of Dimensional Innovations and into its own space with an expanded list of offerings.
“We’ve been growing in size and products ever since. We make a lot of products now, from sports lockers to retail shelving and more, and we’re continuing to grow our product offerings all the time,” explains Chris Williams of Shield Casework.
Continuous improvement on the manufacturing floor
Shield has fine-tuned its manufacturing processes to keep up with an ever steady stream of orders. The manufacturing facility houses a number of high tech tools to build products more proficiently. Formerly, the team adopted CNC technology to aid in the production of its casework goods. “We used a CNC to cut material before installing our table saw fence, so we had to rely on the CNC a lot more in order to ensure we made accurate cuts.”
This was feasible for a period of time, but it wasn’t the most time efficient process for Shield Casework. So, Shield looked to TigerStop for lean manufacturing technology. The Shield team decided to automate its SawStop table saw with a TigerStop TigerFence automated positioner. The SawStop table saw is known for its incredible safety features, and coupled with the TigerFence for increased speed and accuracy, the newly automated table saw proved to be a powerhouse.
Shield Casework's production processes have since shortened dramatically. Rather than pulling out a tape measure, measuring and marking casework material with a pencil, walking around its SawStop table saw, setting a manual fence, and walking back around the saw to make their cut- now all the production team has to do is type in their desired measurement into the TigerFence controller or pull up a pre-saved cut list, and press start.
Shield Casework's TigerFence Automated Table Saw Fence
Shield Casework's TigerFence Table Saw Fence
“Now, we can use the TigerStop to get accurate cuts on the table saw, which means we don’t have to rely on only the CNC quite as much. This improves our workflow and allows us to deliver products to the fabrication floor faster, ultimately getting products out the door and to the customer more quickly,” explains Chris.
Chris details that operator labor time, scrap waste, setup time, and rework have all dramatically reduced since implementing their TigerFence. “Yes, we’ve seen a change in all of those factors. Our cuts are more accurate, which reduces our scrap waste, results in fewer recuts parts, saves time and labor and increases productivity. The TigerStop is also easier to set up, which further improves productivity. All of this allows us to fabricate and deliver products more quickly.”
And deliver products they do. The shield Casework team has had their hands on high profile projects including casework for the Big 12 Headquarters, Shopfiy, the Children's Hospital of Pittsburg, as well as the recent revamp of the North Carolina Hornet’s locker room. The locker room reveal received widespread media attention, for a very good reason.
Shield Casework Locker Room for the North Carolina Hornets
Chris further elucidates, “Shield’s work over the years has earned us a number of awards. We worked on panels at the Children’s Mercy Hospital gift shop with BRR and HMN Architecture and won the AIA KC People’s Choice Award in 2015.” In addition, Shield built a hospital headwall for the University of California San Diego which was a finalist in the IDEA awards, and won the 2014 gold International Design Awards and the 2015 gold Nightingale award in the clinical architecture products category.
Shield Casework Panels for Children's Mercy Hospital Gift Shop
Shield Casework Headwall for the UCSD Jacobs Medical Center
Shield Casework will continue being an industry innovator. The patents Shield Casework first designed to ensure functionality and durability continue to be used in new product development today. Its the reason Shield's casework goods are built to stand the test of time in diverse environments. To learn more about Shield Casework’s automated table saw fence click the below button.