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Thinking of starting a shop drawing service9/9
Having worked in cabinetry for 15 years, and owning a shop for 12 of those, it's pretty clear that the #1 bottleneck in any shop is the design/engineering phase. Seems like outsourcing the drafting work might be a good option for a lot of shops.
What would make it worthwhile for you to outsource your shop drawings? What can you see being the pitfalls?
I know there are quite a few millwork drafting services already out there, but as hungry as every shop is for good engineers, I think there is easily room for one more. I also have a few ideas that would give me an edge with a certain part of the market.
Thanks for your input!
Respectfully, how did you come to the conclusion that this is the bottleneck for most shops? I don't see it.
But even if I did, I simply see there being to much variables in how shops build their jobs for this to be doable for you or them unless you can snag two or three large clients and focus simply on them. I know ten different ways frameless cabinets are made/trimmed out just in my very small county. Each shop has their own way the build things and want the end product to look. Don't see them coming over to you and the learning curve for each shop would be too expensive in my opinion for you to make it cost effective for most shops.
Are you just talking drafting, or supplying a complete software solution with cut lists, shop drawings, and 3d renderings. I see software improving so much, that drafting alone will not require a specialist. Biggest hurdle I see for you, is communication and instant changes required while the salesman is talking to the customer.
I like your idea CM
It is the bottle neck in the commercial market.
The hurdles are going to be interfacing with a commercial shops system.
Cabinet Vision is not easily transferable from one shop to the next.
I don't know about MV
The jobs that are more likely candidates for your proposal are the shops that need custom work done.
They may be more amenable to taking in DXFs, even then the layer protocol can be a challenge.
Its definitely being done in Auto
I've been surprised by the following three replies. My question for you three is, would you be willing to outsource your drafting?
For myself, there is simply too much liability in running with someone else's drawings- this is largely where the thinking and experience of the shop owner or long time drafter with experience comes into play. Or too much efficiency lost in double checking their work and getting them on the same page with us- not just our way of building things but once the initial drawings, notes and hundreds of decisions have been made but having a system to pass that information along to someone else would seem to take just as long to draft it.
What am I missing?
I have subbed out drawings many times.
It wouldn't make sense for the boxes.
Fair enough Pat. I'm the reverse. Everything and I mean everything is viewed through risk reward. To me there there is far too much risk in subbing out drawings and far too much work communicating what would be in the drawings. Perhaps it comes down to what you build?
I'm just talking about doing submittal drawings. A lot of custom shops are drafting their shop drawings in CAD and then redrawing in Cabinet Vision for the CNC. The programming should absolutely be done in-house, but there is no reason the CAD work couldn't be done remotely with the construction drawings and some measurements.
I agree on the variability of construction methods, there is simply no way to communicate that effectively to a vendor. However drawer box manufacturers and door shops seem to be able to fit all their variables on one simple form. Architects typically don't care whether you use a blind dado or a confirmat, and if they do care about a detail they will include it in the construction drawings.
Outsourcing drawings makes sense for the same reasons it does for any other part of the cabinet: lower overhead, fixed cost and turn-around times, and scalability. It doesn't make sense for every shop, but I'm willing to bet there are enough across the US to keep me busy.
Maybe it's a regional shortage, but I have worked at custom residential, production shops and contract furniture shops, all are constantly hunting for qualified engineers. It is typically the greatest contributing factor to their lead time.
My experience is different.
Straight boxes should be able to be produced in house.
My stuff was store fixtures, CV does not do those
I think you have a good idea but you are approaching it from the wrong end. Rather than trying to convince a bunch of cabinet shop owners that they need your service you should go directly to the well.
The job did not start with the cabinet shop owner. It did not start with the contractor that hired the cabinet shop owner. The job started with Mrs. Smith who wants a new kitchen. Go sell her your service.
Cabinet shop owners are a hard headed group of people. General contractor are slippery. Homeowners are the easiest ones to figure out.
They sit up till midnight in their pajamas pouring over Pinterest. They really really really want to get it right. They just don't know how. With an audience like this you cannot fail. They are highly motivated and already provide the momentum. All you got to do is steer.
You will have better luck herding cats than trying to get cabinet shops on board with any new way of thinking.
Go to the well.
I think you have a great idea. Submittal drawings are definitely one of my bottlenecks. I would think that the process would require a few jobs between you and each client to get what they want. Maybe make some samples with varying levels of details and let them choose?
I have been doing this very thing for many years. Two out of my three drafters work from home, which is no different than what you're describing. It'll require a very close relationship, but it can be done.
For each customer develop or use their library of standards, cover pages, means and methods.
Get a scope letter from customer, rfi or go over plans for one off details.
How does the shop subjectively interpret the plans and when do they always take poetic license?
Have a place to drop large files or accept large files via email.
We use a company for overflow work.
The less information we give them the worse the drawings are.
Drafting and engineering are two different skills. Copying someone elses line and kicking the unbuildable idea down the path is a real problem.
We never know if the plans we have are design intent with a lot of thought or a draftspersons canned detail that doesn't really matter.
Family Man, Yes I would be willing and yes I do. I just delivered a fairly complicated school library with radius reception desk included. Drawn in California, files sent to me in Indiana and the entire project cut and assembled in our shop,machine files and shop drawings using our database in CV. Before CV, I routinely used a great company to do shops in Acad. Shops are one of my bottlenecks.
Well I am proven wrong. I have outsourced most every aspect of jobs over the years but this is one aspect that I would not. For my shop design, architectural and shop drawings and shop cut lists are too intricately linked. I would not want this out of my hands. I believe it gives us a leg up in efficiency and reliability but it is obviously working for a great many.
Would I be correct that this is one of the very first things cut in a down turn if it is indeed outsourced?
Possibly, I am the only one in office with 4 men in shop and a part time secretary. Everything is driven through my desk, I still do the smaller jobs up to say 30-40k and all the kitchens, but commercial of any size is sent out, I am using a fellow in Hawaii as we speak, twice as fast and twice as knowledgeable in CV. You have to have good system and CV set up, but any one who saves me an hour of my life is my Hero! Now in all fairness, when I was getting shops done in autocad, and then having to reproduce for machine files, not as much of a time saver.
I am the EXACT size/ situation as Mike except we do almost all very custom residential.
How many of you have seperate drawings for the shop vs. the client? If so, why?
Shop gets individual assembly drawings with a lot of notes along with milling reports, CNC programs, etc. The y also get a copy of the submittal drawings so they can see how everything goes together.
Maybe I'm getting confused here. Are we talking about drafting or rendering? One is for accurate shop drawings, the other is a 3d sales tool.
For me we had been using 3d models since the mid 90s.
The model contains the parts so it is a matter of exporting the parts.
FM IIRC your mentor uses Solid Works for customer sign off and then CV for processing because Solid Works illustrates the job in a way that CV does not
Solid models used to help me close deals for sure. But only when I could talk to the customer directly.
The cool part was you could then take parts from the models.
Not as many woodworking buttons though.
Very interesting. How much are you planning to charge and which software are you planning to use?
I have been doing shop drawings for cabinet and millwork shops for over 20 years now. This business requires lots of patience, excellent communications and of course extensive shop experience. My clients are mainly shop owners, from small one man custom shops to large commercial casework manufacturers. I'll tell you it is not easy to handle different customers with different preferences and requirements. Some shop owners have bad experience subbing out their shops because of that, many smaller, one or two man drafting business can't handle it.