PASSION FOR WOOD REINFORCED BY NUMERICAL CONTROL TECHNOLOGY
If steam symbolised the first industrial revolution, and the internal combustion engine and electricity the second, digital technology is the flag which flies for what many economists have now called the third industrial revolution.
But how is this relevant, you're asking yourselves. It is relevant because in the world of wood and furniture-making too, things are changing. This change is being powerfully driven by digital technologies, by machine tools which are operated, managed and rendered indispensable by PLCs, numerical controls and increasingly present and powerful mechatronics. The mechanics-electronics-information technology triangle has also brought about a revolution in machining centres which, over the course of the last few decades, have become a sort of "pre-requisite", a widely used solution with which most cannot do without.
Woodworkers have changed: they know wood and its characteristics, know how to work with a plane and chisel if necessary. But with a machining centre, everything is different: quality and productivity are increased and the doors are opened on a whole new way to be a craftsman. Because today, investing in numerical control technologies is accessible to many, with “entry level” machines offering levels of performance which until recently were only available on top-of-the-range solutions, requiring significantly higher spend.
We gained first hand experience of this new page in our story in Alta Val Badia, La Valle. This is where Complojer, an artisan woodworking company, has its headquarters, at the heart of which is a SCM Group “Tech Z5” machining centre. The location makes an immediate impression - with its large windows overlooking the road, it looks more like a shop than a laboratory or a wood workshop. And the “Tech Z5” in its midst, in all its finery.
“I chose to become a carpenter when I was introduced to this profession at the vocational courses I attended”, explains the owner of the company, Davide Complojer. "I chose wood, perhaps because we live on a planet where the forest is a partner which is essential for life, and wood is everywhere. I studied in Brunico as an apprentice carpenter and, I graduated as a master craftsman from Innsbruck: I also attended a business management course, to learn how to become an entrepreneur”, he tells us, smiling. “At a certain point, I realised that working for others was not enough for me. I wanted to build something of my own, so I decided to start my own business”.
The story of the Complojer company began 15 years ago, with an individual's decision to invest in an adventure, a dream, to choose an individual path, and to be - in some ways - master of his own destiny, starting from small carpentry jobs to early commissions from a few hotels in the area. The company specialises in décor, furniture, from solid wood to laminated panels and veneer, with a solution to all customer needs.
"We didn't think it was strategically wise to devote ourselves exclusively to producing classic solid wood furniture; the Alpine valleys are full of that kind of product. We decided that we preferred to work on what our clients ask of us. Over time, we have grown and evolved; we work well as a company, and have expanded our business and invested in new machinery. We have made a name for ourselves, grounded on a reputation of credibility and reliability.
We are still a small company, with just four employees - including production and office staff - working in a carpentry workshop space of about 500 m2, with a turnover of around 500 thousand Euro per annum. The nearby valleys - Badia, Gardena, Dolomites - are our target market, but we are often called to Milan, Bergamo, Munich, Tuscany ... people have come to know who we are; they see our work on the internet and seek us out... individuals looking for a carpenter to furnish their home in a unique way, giving space to their personality. They tell us about their ideas, what they want to achieve, and we design a proposal based on this. Or alternatively, they bring us a drawing, and we simply create it out of wood”.
THE NEW CONCEPT OF BEING A CRAFTSMAN
“The key to success is to provide the customer with a solution which exceeds their expectations. This is our philosophy, and it is what has allowed us to find our place in a professional sphere where there is no shortage of competition. We offer, among other things, the ability to plan, to work with the customer to find the best solution, to go beyond the idea of furniture as something with two doors and three drawers; it is our belief that each piece of furniture is like a dress or a jacket, the neck can be made in a certain way, rather than being made with a specific fabric; more buttons can be added, and so on ... ".
“Wood is not an old material, it's always new! It grows every day, and when you cut it, every table, every piece is brand new! This is the great beauty of wood, and the reason for man's affinity with it.
A varnished finish is splendid, but solid wood can also inspire great feelings. Where we are based, we are surrounded by wood: it grows everywhere and is easy to find, and to work; wherever you look, it is there. It is with us. And in cities, too, there is an increasing desire to find that relationship with wood again: I'm thinking of a family from a large German city, who in recent weeks commissioned a pine bed - a wood which has a positive effect on heart rate, as well as a fantastic scent ... perfect for a bedroom ".
“Technology is a great advantage. A company that doesn't invest in new machinery and tools is destined to disappear.
As of two years ago, we have a new numerical control machining centre, an SCM “Tech Z5”, thanks to which we can now take on commissions which we would previously have missed out on. And not only with regard to our furniture, but also the companies for whom we work as subcontractors. We have become a point of reference in the area, for our ability to carry out complicated, special machining operation, in reduced time-frames with optimal results. We have opened new doors”.
“There are pieces of furniture which, without the machining centre, we could not make. And what's more: the other machinery is used less and less; we are increasingly producing pieces which are created using the machining centre and which then move directly onto the smoothing and assembly stages. We are realising that we tend to move all our production to the "Tech Z5," due to the optimal precision, quality and work safety that it guarantees. We are a small company, but now we can do so much more: if before we were accepting orders for a maximum of five rooms, now we can work on twenty, thirty, or even fifty. There are no longer limits to what we can do - we are now working so much better and faster”.
“Being a skilled woodworker is still important, even in the era of machining centres. A skilled woodworker is one who really knows wood, knows how to work it, but is also capable of interpreting and understanding what the customer wants, and can draw the item that he must build, and who knows how to go in search of new markets”.
“We have always used Scm machines. We chose one of their machining centres after having compared technical characteristics and performance of SCM's offering with those of other manufacturers. I have to say that the “Tech Z5” is just the machine we were looking for. We took part in a few days of courses in Rimini, another three or four days within the company and we began to work on it; within a few weeks, there were no longer any secrets”.
“With the machining centre, we have succeeded in creating the model of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks of Lavaredo), a real work of sculpture which will be painted by hand. We place a block on the work table, and hey presto - in a couple of hours, we have a work of art! And in recent weeks we presented our most recent challenge at a furniture trade show in Bolzano, a children's bed that follows the child's growth, from birth to ten years of age. At the start, it takes the form of a changing table and storage unit, changing over time into a cot, a bed, a desk, a wardrobe, a canopy bed, a bed with desk ...