Over the past few years throughout the natural stone industry, we have all noticed and have had to get used to some enormous but relevant changes. Not just with the price of natural stone but also its thickness.
Predominantly natural stone paving like Indian sandstone has been hand cut to a thickness between 30mm and 40mm, however we are now seeing a more regimental machine calibrated version as thin as 15mm.
The question is why did this change take place after so many years? Well, there are a few different reasons. Lets take Indian sandstone for example. Before Indian sandstone was calibrated and was being hand cut to the thickness I mentioned of 30mm - 40mm. We would see on average around 390m2 per shipping container arrive in the UK. Since the calibration process was introduced we are now seeing a more consistent machine calibrated stone between 20mm and 25mm. We can now expect as much as 570m2 of stone arriving in each shipping container. This extra volume significantly reduces the shipping cost to importers.
The use of machinery is also key. Calibration is a process that is carried out by machine, not only does it give us a more consistent product, but it also reduces the skill required and enables a faster process to help meet demand.
It’s not just the manufacturer that benefits from calibration. Tradesmen back here in the UK also benefit massively. As you can imagine a 900mm x 600mm or even 600mm x 600mm paving slab is no easy task to lay. Trying to lay a 40mm paving slab single handed is a near impossible task.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Andrew Burberry, Director of Sussex based Keystone Paving. When I asked Andrew what he thought of the new calibrated version of the products his reply was "its a huge relief. Indian sandstone especially in my experience it is one of the most popular natural stones being used here in the UK at the moment and although it is and always has been a gorgeous product to work with, the installation process was a back breaking experience. We really had to take this into account when pricing a job as it is not something you can do on your own very easily. Now fortunately due to the calibration process I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it to all my customers”.
For me calibrating natural stone was a necessary change to the natural stone industry. Although there are mixed reviews, as far as I am concerned everybody is benefiting from this new process. The exporters can meet a high demand required all over the world, importers now pay less overall for a container of natural stone due to the quantity we are able to receive in each container (and these saving can be passed onto the customer) tradesmen can now sleep easy and not worry about any physical health problems and their customers now receive a more competitive price.
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- Beau Templeman
- Stone Corner
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