Latest research and technology is allowing a Caithness business to work in new ways with the area's best known natural resource.
A&D Sutherland, a family business which has been quarrying and preparing Caithness Flagstone from Spittal for more than 40 years, has traditionally supplied paving and hard stones for large architectural contracts, as well providing items like hearths.
Now, with the support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the business has invested in a state of the art calibrating machine, which will open the doors to a whole range of orders for precisely sized stone.
Mark Mancini, Managing Director at A&D Sutherland, commented: "Caithness Stone is such a beautiful, durable product that it is perfect for our traditional markets of town centres and streetscapes. The new calibrating machine means that we can provide stone with precise, consistent thickness, which will be attractive for a whole range of internal jobs.
"The benefits are significant, it offers clients the opportunity to use a world class stone inside places like airports, the costs of laying the stones will reduce, and at the quarry we will be able to produce three and half times as much stone, with reduced waste too."
Morag Goodfellow, from HIE, is working with the business as they make plans to target new markets across the UK and into Europe. She commented: "We have been working with the team at A&D Sutherland as they have explored innovative ways of developing their business. They have trialled processing techniques to minimise the amount of stone wasted in production, and they want to see their opportunities grow - developing into new markets and aiming to employ more local staff. HIE is delighted to support their investment into the technology which will help them do this."