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July 2008

Manufactured Stone

Side Story:
Technology is Key in Cast Stone

In this competitive industry, with an ever increasingly competitive economy, there are a number of ways that businesses can compete. While cast stone companies have released new products, such as Advanced Cast Stone's Professional Series 600 cast stone panel system, and have focused on creating one-of-a-kind, custom units for their customer base, their ability to keep up with the latest technologies for their industry has been a driving force. Masonry spoke with Eddie Lesok, CEO of Advanced Cast Stone Inc., of Ft. Worth, Texas, and Tim Michael, VP of sales for Advanced Cast Stone, and discovered more about the cast stone industry's technological advances.

While the majority of masonry's material manufacturers specialize in high volumes of well-established lines, the cast stone industry often finds itself catering to the designers' needs for unique, custom-made cast stone pieces for high-end commercial, residential and restoration projects. While the molds for these custom pieces have been made meticulously with large doses of hand-crafted care in the past, the rise in use of new, technological advancements are making the task more efficient, quicker and more consistent than ever before. With the use of these new advancements, companies such as Advanced Cast Stone can turn custom-made cast stone projects around in as little as a few weeks.

"More cast stone companies are having automated batch and production systems that are designed specifically to fulfill the needs of the cast stone manufacturer," Lesok says. "These systems are adapted from precast and ready mix company use, but they are all altered in design to help the cast stone companies both with mix design and color consistency, as well as speed and thoroughness of mixing the product.

"We've been able to create better color design and match other products to a greater extent. So, for instance, we can create specialty pieces that will go seamlessly with Arriscraft International's line of products, which many of our distributors also carry."

Michael adds: "Another thing that's relatively new to the industry is the use of a CNC router used for the mold and fabrication in the shop. It's a fairly new automation that has given us some precision, other than hand precision." For larger projects that require more than one mold, the CNC router can quickly create multiple molds that are completely identical in a fraction of the time.

Once fabrication is in motion, Advanced Cast Stone also utilizes sophisticated software that tracks production and allows for constant feedback.

"We have internally produced a database system that allows us to track the cast stone throughout the project so we know, for instance, how many pieces of that particular stone are made each day, how many pieces are staged, and how many pieces are ready for shipment," Lesok says.

With businesses like Advanced Cast Stone producing over 1,000 cubic feet of cast stone per day, every bit of technological advancement helps keep them competitive.



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