The Koehler Company, founded by Charles Koehler in 1954 in Seguin, Texas, specializes in custom architectural millwork, residential homes, and commercial buildings.
Their reputation for excellence has fueled their growth from a small, two-man cabinet shop, to a fully automated woodworking firm, able to take on projects of any size with confidence.
“These days, business is booming and our shop is running at peak performance, but that was not always the case.” says Drafting Supervisor, James Drury.
“When we first started out, relying on manual fabrication was just about the only thing there was. But when the automation revolution hit the US woodworking industry, we started feeling the pressure. Our markets began to be very competitive and the need to be more efficient was on the minds of our management team. The days of manual fabrication had to come to an end if we were to stay ahead of our competitors…” continued Drury.
“So, in 2006, we made the decision to invest in new AutoCAD-based software from Microvellum to help streamline the way we produced submittal drawings. A year later, and we were using Microvellum to generate takeoff reports and cut lists too.”
“In 2008, we took things a step further and purchased our first nested-based CNC router. This investment proved to be crucial in opening the doors to new markets for us. Projects like hospitals, schools, and other large commercial jobs were previously out of our league due to our manual manufacturing methods.”
“That year, we decided to bid on a very large hospital project, one that remains as one of our largest contracts. Without the efficiency improvements gained with our Microvellum Software, this project and others like it, would have been out of reach for us.”
When asked about the integration of their Microvellum Software to their CNC machine, James admitted that was the next transition they faced: the marriage of the software to the machine.
“We were new to the world of CNC manufacturing and so the integration of our machine to our software seemed like a daunting task. With help from the team at Microvellum, we were able to make the connection quickly and configure our cabinet data to meet our preferred machining methods. The addition of our new router changed the dynamics of our drafting department. For the first time, we had the power to drive our manufacturing process from the office – creating the optimized machine code to drive our CNC machinery.” continued Drury.
The Koehler Company also takes pride in delivering quality custom fixtures such as die walls for nurse’s stations, reception desks and display fixtures.
“When more complex products came around, we were able to use our Microvellum Software to design the individual parts, apply the machining and optimize the parts. Our process was not as efficient as we’d like, but we got the job done. We knew there had to be a better way, a faster way to produce these types of products…”
“Then, one day, after an update to the latest release of Microvellum, we were introduced to the new Solid Modeling Tools…”
Microvellum’s Solid Modeling Tools is a tactile design and engineering tool that plugs directly into the CAD environment from their Toolbox design and engineering platform. It simplifies and automates the process of creating solid models for architectural millwork, fixtures, die walls, furniture, and other complex assemblies. Users can engineer products from scratch or use existing sections and plan drawings from architects. After products have been modeled, users can analyze the parts, save completed products to a library for future use or produce manufacturing data.
“This new technology is exactly what we needed. We jumped in feet first and began to use these tools for all our die wall products.” Continued Drury.
“Microvellum listens to their user-base, people like me that ask for new, and easier ways of engineering complicated and time consuming projects. They respond with tools that exceed our expectations…”
“We can finally build complicated products in a timely manner and on budget. The Solid Modeling Tools provide us with virtually unlimited possibilities. Now, we instruct our estimators to ‘bid it all!’, knowing we have a solution that provides us with an advantage over our competitors.”
“So far, I would say that we’ve seen a 25% reduction of time when engineering die wall products. However, when creating completely custom products like conference tables or other furniture pieces, the increased speed has to be at least 75% faster than before. Being able to quickly lay out a product using architectural drawings and AutoCAD solids is amazing in itself. The fact that we can then analyze all those parts to create a fully manufacturable product is priceless.”
“Now, looking back at how far we’ve come, I wished we took the leap and upgraded sooner. We had a totally custom library built on the old platform and it was a bit scary to think about uprooting a version that we all felt comfortable with.”
“If we hadn’t taken the leap and forced ourselves to change with the software, we wouldn’t be able to compete with our custom fixtures. Now, we look forward to the challenges these projects may have for us. And we’re looking forward to the advancements that are coming soon in future updates.” concluded Drury.
To learn more about The Koehler Company, visit their website: TheKoehlerCompany.com