Right On Track

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by Noelle Stapinsky

Quebec-based Olympic track builder finds flexible efficiency with waterjet cutting technology


THE PROBLEM Using a manually intensive process to cut rubber-flooring samples
THE SOLUTION Going to full automation with a waterjet machining center

It’s almost certain that everyone has seen or stood on Mondo rubber flooring, whether they know it or not. It’s used for track and field surfaces in the Olympic games, and it’s installed in professional sports venues, academic athletic facilities, gyms and even hospitals around the world. In fact, the flooring manufacturer is currently the official supplier of athletic tracks for the Olympics. 

Headquartered in Italy, Mondo Worldwide is a family-run business started in 1948 by two brothers who were making balls for Italian ball games and literally pedaling them around town. Fast forward to 1974. Mondo landed its first Olympic track installation for the games hosted in Montreal, and opened a facility in Laval, Que. to expedite the build. 

Today, the Laval location is Mondo’s North American distribution centre and produces all of the flooring samples for both its athletic and commercial products. “The rubber materials we work with can vary in thickness from 3 mm to 13.5 mm, we provide samples in 3-in. by 3-in., 6-in. by 6-in. or 12-in. by 12-in.,” says Isabelle Giroux, manager of samples and logos for Mondo. “Clients will request specific colours, thickness, and logos, which we have outsource. No project is the same. We were cutting all the samples by hand with a special cutting machine and it was really time consuming for us.”

That is why Giroux and her team turned to Spark and Co., a Canadian machine tool distributor, for a new cutting solution and ended up purchasing the Maxiem 2040 JetMachining Center by OMAX. “They are a great company to work with,” says Arianne Baxter, business development for Spark and Co. “At first, they were worried about getting to know the new technology to cut their material because they had no CNC experience.”

While Mondo is cutting rubber, this machine can produce results using all sorts of materials, including steel, Inconel, wood and more.On making the automation leap, Giroux says, “I’m the one that programs everything in the system. So once it’s programmed, the staff had to learn where to find it in the system and how to position the nozzle properly. It wasn’t that hard.”

Implementing the waterjet system was obviously a serious boost in efficiency, but it also gave Giroux the capability to produce logos, bringing more business in house. “When manually cutting we could only cut three to six samples at a time. Now we can cut 64 to 144 samples in one shot,” she says. 

The Maxiem 2040 is a small footprint machining centre designed for shops with high capacity production demands. It features OMAX’s IntelliMax software, which allows users to import a file from a CAD or graphics program, or create a design from scratch and turn it into a tool path. “Working with the software was really trial and error for me as there isn’t really a manual for logos. And it’s not something a waterjet is really used for. But it was fun to learn and any time I had a question, I could call our reps here in Laval and they were more than happy to help us out,” says Giroux.

The OMAX software package has made logo production a reality, saving outsourcing costs and opening up new revenue for the company.They have learned the machine well and now, not only are they cutting their samples, but they’re also producing really impressive artwork/logos inlaid inside their samples with the waterjet,” says Baxter. 

While athletic installations have been the driver for this business, Giroux explains that it’s commercial line is really great for hospitals and schools, or anywhere people are standing for a long period of time. “Our material is easy to maintain, antibacterial, it doesn’t stain, and it’s fire resistant. We’ve done testing for all of that,” she says. “It’s ergonomic and great for back pain if someone is standing all day. And for sports, for example, if a weight is dropped the floor reshapes itself. We have facilities that have had Mondo rubber floors for 35 years now and they’re still beautiful.” 

With the new CNC waterjet cutting technology, Giroux says they may look at vinyl, wood or other materials in the future, but for now the focus is still on rubber flooring. 

The overall benefits of this investment not only created new revenue with the logo capabilities, as well as efficiencies in the overall process, but Giroux and her team are now using the OMAX software to layout unique installation designs and provide clients with costing and the materials they will need. SMT

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