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Classic Quality Powered by Leading-Edge Technology

By Joel Davis

Adopting the robotics technology of the future lets Classic Granite & Marble continue to dedicate itself to the quality and customer service of the past.

Located in Jessup, Maryland, Classic Granite & Marble serves the greater Baltimore-Washington, D.C.-area. It fabricates and installs natural and engineered stone countertops, fireplaces and vanities. Since it’s founding in 2003, the company has dedicated itself to an old-fashioned ideal: Giving customers only the best service and quality. “We grew every year and went through the difficult times of 2008, the market meltdown and the financial crisis,” co-owner Darian Ozdemir said. “To stay in business, we had to go after customers and, unlike some other businesses, took a little bit more of an aggressive approach. We feel like it turned out to be a success.” In 2017, Classic Granite & Marble invested in two Robo SawJets from BACA Systems. The systems couple the functions of a high-pressure abrasive waterjet and a 26HP direct-drive saw with a precision KUKA Robotics industrial robot. “We were convinced of the reliability of the robot itself, which is a German made KUKA brand robot,” Darian Ozdemir said. “That was a key decision factor behind going with their Robo Sawjet. The reliability of the robot itself was a proven fact in the industry, and it was an easy decision to make.”

“We were convinced of the reliability of the robot itself, which is a German made KUKA brand robot”

Increased Yield and Production

Equipped with a high-pressure abrasive waterjet and a 26HP direct-drive saw, it can cut a standard 40-square-foot kitchen countertop with sink hole from a slab within 15-18 minutes. This is half the time of other machines. Each Robo SawJet is cutting about 800 square feet per day. Ozdemir said he knows the shop could push slabs through at a much faster rate but focuses on quality over quantity. “We’re not timid on using the them,” he said. “We know they are workhorses. We know we can push it, but we have the luxury of being able to have two of them. Some of the new porcelain products, like Dekton and ultracompact materials, you have to be extremely careful with, so we cut them at lower speed. We’d rather be safe than sorry.” In addition to its impressive cutting accuracy, sophisticated on-board software allows the Robo SawJet to optimize cutting patterns. This increases the yield from individual slabs. Customers can save an average of 20 percent on material costs annually. “A sawjet gives you better yield and saves on material because of the combination of the saw and the waterjet where you don’t have to overcut,” Ozdemir said.

The Need to Upgrade

The shop had previously relied on a gantry sawjet. The machine had served them well for years but became less reliable with age. “The machine we had was a workhorse,” he said. “We used it for six or seven years, but we had multiple maintenance issues and a lot of downtime. With not being able to get in contact with customer service, we had to move on from that particular brand.” Ozdemir and co-owner Andy Yavuzel were still convinced in the superiority of sawjet technology over bridge saws and other means of fabricating stone. “We understand sawjet technology,” he said. “Because of how much more yield you can get from your materials you can save, we believed in the sawjet technology but that maybe that brand we were using was not the right brand for us.”

“A sawjet gives you better yield and saves on material because of the combination of the saw and the waterjet where you don’t have to overcut”

The Better Solution

The more research the pair did, the more they became convinced that the BACA Robo SawJet was the solution to their production issues. “It was the reliability of the robot and the software,” Ozdemir said. “BACA’s PC-based software is very user friendly. We were convinced that we’d need less maintenance of the parts and the whole system itself. We knew it was going to be a better solution.” In addition to high reliability and reduced need for maintenance, Ozdemir said one of the selling points of the Robo SawJet is its compact footprint. The Robo SawJet, which has two cutting tables, allows a slab to be loaded on one table while another is being cut on the opposing table. “It covered much less of a footprint than the previous sawjets we had,” he said. Because the shop doesn’t have to rely on just a few experienced workers to be able to properly run the sawjet, staffing is easier. “The software is so user-friendly, you can train anybody,” Ozdemir said. “You really can train somebody within a few days’ time. We do cross-train our employees here. If one of our operators was on vacation, we have others that can operate the machine. That’s the model that we had for a long time.”

Reliability

The reliability of the Robo SawJet has made for smoother sailing during day-to-day operations in the Classic Marble & Granite fabrication shop. “It does make life much less stressful because of its reliability,” Ozdemir said. “In the past, we had some stressful times around here, but I can definitely count on the Robo SawJet to perform its duties that were promised to us. Compared to other manufacturers, we’ve had our sawjets for a year and a half, we haven’t had to have a single technician come here.” The reliability has helped increase Classic Granite & Marble’s profitability,” he said. “For the past year and a half, we’ve had very limited downtime. In the past, we’d have downtime on our equipment for multiple days at a time, and it would slow down our production and hamper our growth plans.” Even power outages at the facility are not an obstacle to getting the job done. “In the past, if we had a power outage, the machine would stop wherever it was working on,” Ozdemir said. “After the power came back one, we’d have to do a lot of crosschecking to continue from where the machine had stopped. With the Robo SawJet, all you have to do is hit the refresh button. It’s a smart machine. It’s smart software. It knows where to continue from with one click.”

“With the Robo SawJet, all you have to do is hit the refresh button. It’s a smart machine. It’s smart software. It knows where to continue from with one click.”

Customer Service and Training

During the installation of the Robo SawJets, BACA Systems provided a week of in-depth to Classic Granite & Marble technicians at its Detroit headquarters. “It was so beneficial to be able to send our operator and Manny, our production manager, to their Detroit facility and get trained on the equipment in a live setting, instead of the installers of the equipment training us here on site,” Ozdemir said. When it comes to support, BACA Systems is heads and shoulders above other manufacturers, he said. “It’s been a great experience indeed. If we call BACA, we talk to a live person or get a call back literally within minutes. If we have an issue with the software or something like that we’ll call them and immediately get a call back from a tech. They are able to log in to our equipment remotely and figure out the issue in a very timely manner. That’s one example, but it’s a very valuable example.”

Summing It Up

When the time comes to purchase another sawjet, Ozdemir said that he’d stick with BACA. “That is a non-brainer. I don’t know we’ll need another one for a while, but it would only make sense to buy another. We’re so happy with it. BACA is a visionary innovator of bringing robotics into our industry. I believe that this will be the next generation of technology for stone fabrication. I really believe that.”