The many visitors to the Grand Auditorium de l’UNESCO in Paris can witness first-hand the expertise of an SME that seamlessly blends art with the latest production techniques. A company of some 100 people whose beginnings in the stonemasonry trade date back more than 150 years. France-Lanord and Bichaton (FLB) has since diversified its activities.
Today, the company provides both restoration and conservation services for protected heritage and contemporary buildings, and high-end joinery, a field that occupies nearly half of its skilled tradespeople. “Our clients choose us for our A-to-Z support for their projects to create or restore their heritage,” explains Christophe Manque, manager of FLB’s joinery division. “Namely, technical design within the ‘joinery’ design office, production in the workshop and installation.”
With its finger on the pulse of the latest technological advances, France-Lanord and Bichaton, in partnership with research laboratories, are developing innovative processes, from 3D CAD to prototyping, using new materials such as modeling boards, wood products and fiberglass. “To improve the quality and reliability of our ‘joinery’ CAD (computer-aided design) work, we decided two years ago to install software capable of providing 3D modeling, namely TopSolid’Wood from Missler Software,” explains the specialist.
User-friendly and powerful software
A choice made after careful consideration of the offer and visits to companies who already use the software, in cooperation with the three designers who work in the ‘joinery’ design office. “I asked them to first and foremost analyze the suitability of the software’s features to meet our specific requirements,” adds Christophe Manque.
Result: the French software publisher came out on top thanks to the user-friendliness and power of its solution, used by numerous joinery specialists in France and abroad. Missler Software’s regional branch, conveniently located less than five kilometers from FLB, provided the training and advice essential to the success of the project. “Missler Software’s solution has given clarity to our designs and its many modules allow us to confidently tackle the most complex furniture projects for extremely demanding customers. For example, luxury establishments such as the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris,” says the manager, who believes the success of such a project lies in “a healthy dose of CAD software.”
Based on specifications, the ‘joinery’ design office draws up 3D CAD execution and assembly plans, selects appropriate traditional or innovative materials, ensures compliance with applicable legislation and coordinates cooperation between the different trades. It all starts with the on-screen configuration of the future furniture with TopSolid’Wood. With the advantage of the user being able to view a rendering of their future furniture from every angle and choose the colors or the shapes to suit their project.
“The powerful 3D modeling of the software and its associative feature avoids the mistakes we used to make working manually, with a considerable gain in productivity,” highlights Nicolas Rouhling, one of three design technicians. Designers can model multiple parts and sub-assemblies in the same file, or select bottom-up assembly modeling to structure projects. They can also draw on the software library to choose the most suitable components (processes, drivers, interchangeability, articulation, etc.) for the project.
“It has practically revolutionized the way we work and is fully in line with our lean management process,” Christophe Manque proudly states. We no longer need to rework the furniture plans in the workshop and the software really has become the core of our production activities.” This way of working has led the company to train two new operators, who will join a third team member in order to make more effective use of the MasterWood CNC machining center. The last piece in the puzzle to complete the company’s transition to all-digital joinery is to modernize sawing, with the upcoming installation of a digital saw. “This will give us complete traceability of our creations and significantly improve profitability,” concludes the expert.
The woodworking of the future is happening now at FLB!
Strong points of TopSolid’Wood application
- Clear and precise CAD models
- Easily design complex furniture
- Associativity that avoids mistakes
- Easy creation of machining programs
Christophe Manque’s opinion
“TopSolid’Wood software has practically revolutionized the way we work and is fully in line with our improvement process. We love its useful features, such as the library that makes it easier to choose the most suitable elements for a project.”