Taking Woodworking to New Heights

Eagle Machinery & Supply, Inc.
Written by Claire Suttles

Eagle Machinery & Supply, Inc. is a leading supplier of Optimized Automation Solutions for Industrial Woodworking Applications. The company provides process solutions to fit end users’ specific – and often complex – needs.
“We are a custom machine builder and systems integrator,” says CEO and President Kirk E. Spillman. The Sugarcreek, Ohio based company manufactures some of the most innovative and cutting-edge woodworking machinery available in the world today, helping to advance the industry and save end users time and money.

To help customers keep their operations running as smoothly and efficiently as possible, the team specializes in CAD design and engineering services, machine control software and technical support, machinery and hydraulic systems, CNC machining and fabrication welding, repair services, and high performance lubricants.

The team’s primary focus is on Fully Integrated Dimension Mill Systems, which are utilized in the secondary wood processing industry. During this stage of processing, defects such as knots, splits, or mineral stains are detected and removed from the lumber. “Because wood is a natural product with imperfections, defects in lumber can be detected and mapped into a cut solution with our WoodEye scanners, and then automatically removed from the lumber by our world class Talon saws to prepare a clear board ready to be used as a finished product,” Kirk explains.

Traditionally this process required a high level of manual labor. Workers had to manually inspect the lumber and mark any defects with a fluorescent crayon in order to identify the defect cut locations. “It was very labor intense,” Kirk recalls. “Using camera and lighting technology coupled with dynamic machine control software, our systems automate this difficult task with greater accuracy at much higher speeds.”

To supply the most advanced technology, Eagle Machinery has partnered with Sweden-based WoodEye, a global leader in quality control wood scanning systems. “Our good friends at WoodEye Sweden are now marketing Eagle’s integrated machinery systems outside of North America,” Kirk explains. “Eagle will continue to manufacture this machinery here in the U.S., and brand it as WoodEye Systems for sale and use in other countries around the world.”

WoodEye recently released the WoodEye 5, a machine that boasts the very latest in wood scanning capabilities. “This is a very high-end piece of technology. It replaces a lot of manual decision making.” The WoodEye 5’s advanced scanning abilities allow end users to optimize precious resources, saving both money and natural resources. “If you are a manufacturer making a wood product, you want to preserve as much raw material [after processing] as possible and minimize waste,” Kirk explains. “We are producing at very high levels while minimizing waste, helping our customers supply material to their downstream processes.”

WoodEye scanners are programmed to preserve as much wood as possible by taking the customer’s specific end product in mind, from cabinet doors to flooring, moldings and furniture. “The scanner is a very dynamic machine. You can teach it the parameters in terms of what [to consider] a defect or not a defect. The customer will enter their required parts, sizes and grades, and [the scanner will] find all of the defects while preserving wood fiber for increased yields, which saves money and resources in the long run.”

Eagle’s customers value the company’s Made in U.S.A. label. “There is an appreciation for the natural resources we have here in our country and the fact they can acquire world-class machinery built right here in the U.S.,” Kirk explains. Manufacturing in the United States also allows the team to work hand-in-hand with their North American customers. “Much of the machinery design and features have evolved through very close collaboration with our end users over the years. We are here, we see their operations, we understand their challenges, and we work closely with them to develop new products. We’ve developed loyal relationships with key vendor partners and they work closely with us to make sure that Eagle stays at the forefront of industry offerings.”

Collaborating with the end user allows the team to produce customer-centric solutions. “We certainly share our opinions and recommendations, but in the end we respect our customer’s decisions, so we work diligently with the end user to make sure that [we give them] what they are after,” says Executive Vice President Todd Spillman.

To be sure, the team is willing to go the extra mile during the development process to ensure they deliver exactly what the customer wants. “We are interested in providing processing solutions that will benefit our customer partners long term,” Kirk explains. “In order to do this we first need to invest time to understand our customer’s needs and goals. Then we apply a team based design approach, which includes close collaboration with our customer partners. An example of how this works: we learn of an opportunity, we visit the customer, we see their process, we learn their goals, and then we provide concept drawings of a potential work cell solution. Approval drawings are then provided for discussion with our partners to walk through final design details. It is a collaborative effort ensuring project success.”

Eagle Machinery’s customer relationships remain strong even after the sale is made. “We will support them for the entire time that they have their system,” Todd reports. Kirk adds, “We treat our customer relationships as partnerships. This is very key. We don’t make a sale; we make a partnership because they are going to use this [system] for many years.”

Because of the complexity of the machinery, training is an essential component of the company’s after sale services. “We learned the hard way,” Kirk remembers. “In the early days we would build cutting edge machinery and ship it out prior to customer training. Partner factories tend to be located near the heavily forested areas of the country where staffing to operate the machinery can be challenging. Without proper operator training on new technology, it became difficult for them to harness their potential.” As a result, Eagle now invites the customer to the factory for operator training prior to shipment. “It is very important that they understand what they have. This really helps them harness the technology we provide.”

Although it is spread across the globe, the woodworking industry is a relatively “small community” in which news travels fast. This means that reputation is everything, so Eagle has no room for error. “Our products are capital expenditures for our partners,” Kirk points out. “When they buy a system, it is a manufacturing asset they are going to leverage for many years. Our goal is to take the best care of our customers, treat them fairly, and be totally honest with them.”

While prudent, the team’s emphasis on customer satisfaction is not just about the bottom line. “Our primary goal is to treat people fairly and become a blessing to others through our efforts here at Eagle,” Kirk explains. “This is what matters most to us.” This commitment is inspired by the Spillmans’ convictions. “We trust in God. We seek His wisdom. He becomes our direction. If we do this we know everything else will be just fine.”

This caring company culture has created close-knit employee relationships in addition to long lasting customer partnerships. “We are proud of the reputation we have built together with our employees. We refer to our people here as the Eagle family.”

Eagle Machinery’s commitment to customers combines with superior, high-tech solutions to create a winning formula, and the team is ready to build on its success. “Expansion is in the plans,” Kirk reports. “There is potentially another factory in the making for 2016.” The team is also developing overseas markets. “Eagle has primarily been in North America with its products, but it is going offshore as we speak. To sum it up, there is growth and opportunity with Eagle today.” Visit Eagle on the web at eaglemachines.com or on Facebook.



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