Automation begins in the mind


Digital Perspectives in Carpentry and Joinery

Rudolf Korsitzky, Director of Product Management CNC, Automation & Projects of FelderGroup

09/20/2022

Automation in the year 2022: an essential term among carpenters, cabinet makers and enclosure manufacturers that practically applies to companies of any size. But, what is the exact meaning of automation for each one in particular and what are the guidelines to keep in mind?

Automation: Running this installation eight hours a day, the annual labor costs of one employee could be offset 1:1 with the additional investment for the robot. This means minimum repayment terms.

When we think of automation, we immediately associate it, among other things, with the concept of a shortage of specialized personnel. Meanwhile, there are no longer any doubts: in many carpenters there are plenty of orders but the ideal employees are lacking to develop them professionally. It is not the only aspect to take into account. Much more is needed to bring this subject into focus. As a general rule: Automation is suitable for any type of company, regardless of its size!

Automation starts with the flow of data. All automation (mechanics) such as robots and other automation solutions arise from the hand of (correct) data. Even for the smallest of carpenters, connectivity and digitization represent an enormous simplification of work, that is, a Fourth Industrial Revolution turned into a kind of Fourth Revolution of Artisan Manufacturing.

Digitization: from analog to networked

The Fourth Artisan Manufacturing Revolution begins in carpentry shops with 3D planning software for body manufacturing. This avoids the design and drawing of plans or their realization manually through 3D CAD software. In production, the progressive integration of analog machines is carried out, such as circular saws, automatic drills and edge banders: the cuts of the pieces are made efficiently thanks to the optimization of cuts in the circular saw, with less time. waste than before, the further processing in the gluer as well as in the automatic hole punch are digitally represented. Repeated manufacturing of the same part due to clamping failures or similar causes are things of the past!

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Access to the world of CNC: compact CNC machining centers with installation area of ​​less than 5 m handle all drilling, slotting and milling work.

Is it allowed to go one step further? Then the compact CNC machining centers will facilitate your access to the world of CNC, in a space of less than 5 mtwoincluding the elegance of digitization all drilling, grooving and milling work for interior finishing is carried out in a single clamping precisely, error-free, even room doors can be machined.

Transportation: parts are in motion

During the entire machining process, parts often have to be handled, i.e. moved from A to B. In addition to increasing efficiency by avoiding possible damage (especially to raw materials), the health aspect should not be neglected as well. Whole wood boards are transferred, for example with vacuum lifters, to the circular saw or panel saw for cutting. A lifting table next to the panel saw or CNC machining center for Nesting is a substantial improvement. Material for an entire daily shift or more is loaded in stacks onto a forklift. The units installed on these machines independently pick up the next board to be machined and transport it to the work area by themselves.

Nesting: not in vain is it so appreciated

The CNC-Nesting machine is pleased to present its ever-increasing acceptance in craft manufacturing. The processing carried out by a CNC-Nesting machine is an automation in itself. The pieces are almost completely finished and only require gluing. From the data point of view, the circle is closed at each CNC: the body is generated in the design software, the 3D views have been part of the state of the art for many years, underpinning sales. This software outputs the CNC programs, they are efficiently nested in a separate nesting software to be machined later with CNC-Nesting.

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Handling: chipboard packages are automatically transferred from the lifting table to the Nesting machine and evacuated after processing.

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Easily Achieve One-Man Operation – Skilled personnel need to focus on the application and not walk parts around. The solution is a return system.

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Horizontal warehouse: the boards are stored and managed in an unordered manner or classified by variety. The space is used optimally and the boards are automatically supplied to the panel saws or CNC-Nesting machining machines. Possible repayment terms are around a year and a half.

Warehouse: horizontal, the new position vertical

The next advance here is a horizontal warehouse. The carpenter uses adjoining surfaces to store and manage boards at a height of between 1.8 to 2.5 m (and more), both in an unordered manner and classified by variety.

The space is used optimally and the boards are automatically supplied to the panel saws or CNC-Nesting machining machines. During the work preparation process and after the optimization or nesting process, the order is digitally transmitted to the horizontal warehouse software. Machine operators no longer need to manually select the correct material or cutting plane.

During loading, the predetermined cutting plane in the work preparation is digitally transmitted to the machine and there is no error in the selection of the cutting plane. An investment of this type is justified by short amortization periods, which in some cases begin with a year and a half.

Return: in a simple way towards single-person management

Basically the need for automation is convenient whenever monotonous activities are involved. Specialized personnel should concentrate on the application and not be in charge of taking the pieces out for a walk. Return is a simple solution to this, allowing the operator to focus solely on the application. Many times these types of investments can pay for themselves within a year.

Planning: 90% represents sometimes much more

Is it necessary to further increase the degree of automation? A mistake that is sometimes made when outlining automation solutions is to consider the need to cover all processes in their entirety. The importance of a hands-on approach in this regard has been shown in the past: it is better to concentrate on getting 90% of the parts handled automatically. The remaining 10% can still be manually loaded. Various solutions, for example, in continuous CNC machining centers work exactly with this concept. The parts are manually loaded during the day shift, at night, during the night shift, these previously recognized parts are subjected to drilling, slot machining and even gluing and pin placement is carried out automatically. The next day these bodies will be ready for assembly or dispatch. The motto says: incorporate competent personnel in those places where their knowledge is required but also their sensitivity, for example, the operation of the gluer.

Robot: replace manual movement and much more

Many years ago, when industrial solutions were still part of the distant future, industrial robots, however, managed to impose themselves in craft manufacturing. Recurring actions, but also logical activities such as labeling and destacking in front of the CNC-Nesting machining center can be a solution for staff shortages. The CNC-Nesting machine transmits the piece information to the robot control, which performs the labeling and unstacking, on pallets, forklifts or transport systems, directly to the gluer. By running this installation eight hours a day, the annual labor costs of one employee can be compensated 1:1 with the additional investment for the robot, this means minimal payback periods. We could even reach a one-person carpentry workshop: continuous quality control on the machine with greater sensitivity, the edge bander is the closest. At the front is the CNC-Nesting machine that performs automatic unstacking. At the back, behind the return gluer, is the automatic drilling cell.

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Continuous CNC machining centers: the parts are manually loaded during the day shift, at night, these parts are processed during the night shift, leaving the bodies ready for assembly the next day.

Lot size 1: the carpenter’s specialty

All detailed solutions have not been designed solely for mere series production or industrial companies. Lot size 1 is guaranteed for all these solutions. Machine manufacturers know this and offer tailor-made solutions that correspond to the degree of automation desired by the joiner. Productivity is increased through customized solutions taking advantage of the skills of specialized personnel, instead of subjecting them to the execution of recurrent and monotonous tasks. In addition, a homogeneous work result is achieved. In short: Automation begins in the mind. Free, individual automation has already become a concept for everyone. You are now more than ever on budget and essential to staying competitive!

About the Author

The engineer Rudolf Korsitzky is director of Product Management CNC, Automation & Projects at FelderGroup. It has more than 20 years of experience in woodworking machines, as well as in automation including the integration of robot systems.

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