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Do we have an edge in flooring?

Anyone who's talked to me in the last two years knows how hard it is to install flooring on stairs (I'm fun at parties). This is a task that requires tens of hours from the most skilled tradesman. All of the skill, and the majority of the time, is for measuring and cutting. In the words of Gene, Owner of Concept Materials "[his employee] Jose is the best, but he does, average 4-5 per day. ... Installation is nothing! If everything is precise and ready, we can install, like, 20 per day" When you're charging $2,000+ to install a staircase, that's big value! And we validated that value — preselling over $150K in stair tools and services. Automating stairs was a no-brainer. How about floors?

In all modern industries, people have performed time studies — breaking down activities in to parts (e.g. "How long do our employees spend tightening the top left screw vs placing the top left screw?") As far as we can tell, this has never been done for the $22B flooring industry. Since we're in the business of re-constructing the construction business...

The easiest projects using traditional methods are those with: least precision, fewest angles, no curves, no I-beams, and of course: no stairs. We have the perfect project to give traditional crews the biggest headstart: our 150 sqft workshop! 3 square walls, one wall at an angle. No transitions, no curves, no hard-to-cut baseboards. We also let them operate their saw in the office —something that is not always an option in renovation projects.

So we hired the top Vancouver company to lay laminate flooring. With their permission, we recorded and analyzed the work minute by minute. Here's the breakdown:

Measuring and cutting took 103 minutes vs only 36 minutes for the installation. ShapeMeasure eliminates these processes (our automatic measurement process for this room takes less than two minutes. We can automatically cut laminate at 400 inches / minute). What was surprising to us: cleanup was a massive time sink: taking over 50 minutes! Fine laminate particulate, on top of being dangerous to the lungs, is a beast to clean up. One needs to perform this cleaning regularly to minimize allergens that remain in the home. With ShapeMeasure, the dust is safely trapped in the air filters at our warehouse.

 

The installer, "G", has over 15 years of experience and is being paid $50 / hour. This experience is necessary to accurately measure, perform the mental math, and set the saw. However, unrolling underlay, clicking laminate in place, and carrying material does not require this experience. In short, ShapeMeasure can hire old hands, such as "G" to monitor crews of junior staff (average wage: $20/hour in Vancouver). We can get floors done for less than a quarter of the staffing costs!

Introducing the Floor Mzr: