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Efficiency is the principle requirement: Panel cutting technology without waste

Panel cutting – this can be completed either by a traditional saw or by using the nesting technique. As a manufacturer of horizontal pressure beam saws, HOLZMA has been setting standards in panel cutting technology with its innovations, trends and patents for nearly five decades now. Nesting, on the other hand, is a fairly young technology. WEEKE offers highly efficient concepts for this sector. In the early 90s, nesting captured the North American market and then made its way to Europe about ten years ago. In the meantime both technologies have become standard features of panel cutting technology; at the same time handling and logistics have been gaining in importance. As a systems provider, the HOMAG Group offers interesting combinations, such as the "store-saw-nesting combination" from HOMAG Automation, HOLZMA and WEEKE.

As manufacturers, both HOLZMA and WEEKE face the same challenges: everything revolves around the question of improving performance and efficiency.

Companies that produce efficiently, improve their performance. In order to produce efficiently, you have to avoid "waste" – of this Taiichi Ohno was certain. Taking this approach, the inventor of the Toyota Production System systematically eliminated every instance of waste, which he categorized in his book into seven points (source: Wikipedia):

1. Overproduction (only produce what you need)
2. Unnecessary movements (by the operator and/or the machine) 
3. Waiting times (for the operator and/or machine) 
4. Transportation 
5. Inappropriate processing (excessively complex and/or superfluous process steps) 
6. High levels of material stock (within production and/or in the storage facilities for raw materials and 
    finished parts) 
7. Reworking and scrap

In the area of panel cutting there is, of course, also waste, i.e. so-called "non-value-adding activities". HOLZMA and WEEKE have therefore set themselves the task of identifying these weak areas. They hold workshops with customers, scrutinize processes in both craft and industrial establishments from a neutral point of view, analyze the operating sequences in depth and develop appropriate solutions with the customer – from storage and cutting to supplying downstream stations. The aim is to implement processes that flow from start to finish – fully in keeping with HOLZMA's Domino philosophy and WEEKE's nesting concepts and always for the benefit of the customers.

 

Point 1: Overproduction

Only produce what you need – this applies to series production as well as to classic batch size 1 production. The aim is to saw or cut the parts out of the panel in an ideal way so that as little as possible in terms of offcuts or waste is produced. What's more, all finished parts should be delivered at the right time, to the right place and in the right quantity. A key factor in this is the software. The HOMAG Group offers a number of established solutions, for example woodWOP 7 and woodCAD|CAM, which can be used in discussions with customers, for planning and for generating CNC programs. The optimization software Cut Rite supplies cutting patterns via an online connection to both nesting machines and saws. The new HOLZMA destacking software tells the operator which part to place on which pallet and the precise position so that it is in the correct order for the subsequent processing station, for example, an edge banding machine. 

 

Point 2: Unnecessary movements 

Operator and machine work more efficiently if there are no unnecessary movements. The HOLZMA destacking concept is a good example of an innovation in the cutting area that enables the machine operator to complete his work more efficiently. Another example is the optimization of nesting processes on WEEKE nesting machines. The software arranges (nests) the required workpieces on the panel in such a way as to ensure that processing can be completed in the shortest possible time and with a minimum of waste.

 

Point 3: Waiting times

The HOLZMA destacking concept also reduces waiting times for the operator by offering the option of buffering parts. The machine operator can first feed the next strip for cutting and then calmly destack the buffered parts. This ensures flowing processes and smooth workflows, as well as eliminating waiting times. Waiting times can also arise when feeding the saw or nesting machine. There are comprehensive solutions for this too, for example, saw-store combinations: the storage system pre-stacks the panels during the night to ensure they are ready in the correct order for the next day. Even labeling of the uncut panels can take place at night. Doing so provides the ideal conditions for flowing processes without long periods spent waiting. The HOLZMA feed-stacking table works in a similarly efficient manner, feeding the saw while the previous panel is still being cut. On request, the nesting machine can feed the new panel while the finished nest is being discharged. This allows the processes to mesh together seamlessly, without any waiting time.Waiting times also arise if machines are not available when required. Machine availability is crucial if production is to be successful and, above all, efficient. For this reason, HOLZMA and WEEKE are working hard to continually increase machine availability. For example, servicing is being made easier on an ongoing basis with the introduction of new designs. An example of this is the 5 series – the flagship of the HOLZMA series-production models was overhauled for the 2014 in-house exhibition HOLZMA Treff and significantly improved in many areas. In addition, HOMAG Automation, HOLZMA and WEEKE are continually expanding their range of service offerings. This includes not only rapid assistance in the event of an emergency, but also all preventive measures.  

 

Point 4: Transportation   

It couldn't be shorter: after being delivered, the panels go directly to the warehouse, from the warehouse to the saw or nesting machine, and from there on to subsequent processing stations – perhaps manually using "HuGo", the HOLZMA pallet truck with automatic height control. HuGo can transport the panels, for example, to the WEEKE ABD horizontal drilling and doweling station or to the edge banding unit. A fully automatic connection to subsequent stations is also possible.

 

Point 5: Overprocessing

Those who want to reduce transportation still further and at the same time increase their efficiency will choose the HOLZMA HPP 300 multiTec.  This saw also performs routing and drilling work – ideal for builders of facades and partition walls, for example. It eliminates the laborious reloading of what are predominantly large and heavy panels into other machines and also obviates the need for subsequent processing on the construction site. The WEEKE BHP series offers similar features. It is therefore possible to choose between HOLZMA and WEEKE depending on the requirement profile.

 

Point 6: High levels of material stock

Software-controlled storage systems play a key role in reducing unnecessarily high levels of material stock. They ensure that users are able to keep track of material and can reliably detect any "shelf warmers". The same applies, incidentally, to manual offcuts stores. These are available in manual versions – HOMAG Automation management software and HOLZMA optimization ensure that data is always up to date and that offcuts are fed back into the process. Semi-automated and fully automated solutions are also available, equipped perhaps with a HOMAG Automation robot, in combination with an offcuts cell, or possibly with automatic parts return to the horizontal panel storage system.

 

Point 7: Reworking and scrap

The usual reason for scrap being generated during cutting is parts being scratched or damaged. With this in mind, the HOMAG Group has taken a gentle approach to transporting and processing material. The range of solutions begins with vacuum feeding, whether via a storage system, a feed gantry or a lifting table equipped with the HOLZMA 2in1 feeding system. Specially flocked rollers, machine tables with air jets, adjustable pressure for the clamps and pressure beam – all of this ensures that a HOLZMA saw transports material gently and that processing is kind on panel surfaces. One of the latest inventions is the HOLZMA dustEx extraction technology. This greatly reduces the accumulation of dust from dust cuts and eliminates the need to perform a time-consuming blow-off of the machine. The machine tables remain clean and ensure that parts are transported without being scratched.WEEKE uses the CNC controller to achieve optimum extraction results. The controller switches the extraction system on only in the processing area that is active at that particular moment. This reduces the overall power required and nevertheless guarantees a consistent standard of cleanliness. That saves energy. 

 

Point 8: Energy consumption

This point was not explicitly mentioned by Taiichi Ohno. Yet it is so important today, that it deserves a special mention. "Energy saving" is a key issue in the HOMAG Group – especially because the potential for savings with networked machines is exponential. Among the "ecoPlus" technologies is the standby button, which is integrated as a standard feature. This immediately puts machines into a power-saving mode, but at the same time does not involve a wait when the machine is "rebooted". Modern extraction systems also play a substantial role in resource efficiency at HOLZMA and WEEKE, as do the load-dependent fans in HOLZMA air cushion tables, the demand-controlled vacuum pumps used by WEEKE and many other features. Taking a holistic view, it is clear to see how much potential lies in energy consumption overall. A company that uses HOMAG Group solutions, from saw and edge banding machine to drilling and doweling stations, can cut its energy consumption by up to 30%.

 

Conclusion

Improving performance on an ongoing basis is a key issue in panel cutting. In tackling this issue, the focus is no longer solely on performance data such as kW figures or saw blade projection, but rather first and foremost on achieving improvements in performance overall. To achieve such improvements, it is vital to consider both the machine(s) and the machine environment. This highlights the issue of flowing processes – in particular upstream and downstream of the cutting process: from storage and feeding to panel cutting and on to the subsequent processing station. The high level of performance of an individual machine becomes irrelevant as soon as queues form upstream or downstream, ultimately leading to waiting times.

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