SAWTEQ B-300 flexTech Highly efficient batch size 1 production with maximum flexibility

The HOMAG Group’s SAWTEQ B-300 flexTec is equipped with an integrated robot and is technically capable of fully automated batch size 1 production. Joerg Hamburger, Head of Product Management, BU Panel Dividing from the HOMAG Group, shares more.

It is known that automation and robotics are the keys to highly efficient batch size 1 production. But how can manufacturers break through the cutting process?
Batch size 1 production is a completely different model from traditional mass production. The complexity of cutting increases with the numerous sizes of the panels in each work shift. The smaller the batches go, the more flexible and intelligent the machines need to be; manufacturers will therefore need to change the equipment, the method of producing and the planning of production. Especially in Asia, it is really nearly impossible to have a 100% batch size 1 production, unless the factory is only manufacturing two different products. That is why the panel dividing experts at HOMAG developed an innovative hybrid concept combining the two: the robot performance for automated batch size 1 panel cutting and the wide range of processing options of classic HOMAG saws that is used during manual operation.

What are the benefits of the hybrid concept? What do users gain when the robot is working?
In robot mode, unmanned operation is possible over longer periods of time. The robot takes over all operator tasks and moves the panels using gentle vacuum technology, works accurately, requires little maintenance and is highly available. Production interruptions are almost completely ruled out with the proven industrial robot (almost 100% availability), leading to low error rates. With HOMAG B-300 flexTec, customers can add on a ghost shift (middle of the night shift) on top of the regular-operators-present one or two shifts. Without anyone in the factory, the machine operates completely on its own and cuts the parts to prepare for the next stages in production on the following day. Customers who bought HOMAG B-300 flexTec run an additional three hours in the ghost shift, mainly to prepare for next-stages production on the following day and sometimes to fulfil urgent orders. This machine is specially designed for intelligent destacking on up to four big destacking tables. With this feature, customers can group/sort the parts that get destacked: parts of the same order, parts that are processed together in the next stage (eg, at the edgebander or CNC machine) or even by material type or thickness. HOMAG B-300 flexTec helps optimise the process flow in the factory as well. The robot itself can process panels up to 3,200 mm long (optionally up to 4,200 mm) and allows for highly efficient batch size 1 production. The robot even takes care of handling the offcuts, provided the offcuts are automatically destacked to a place reserved for this purpose or returned to the storage system. What’s even better? No special robotics or programming knowledge is required!

When should users switch to manual operation mode?
HOMAG SAWTEQ B-300 flexTec allows complete operating freedom in the cutting process in manual mode. Books of panels, thin panels, or larger- or smaller-than-average panels, can be cut in the usual way. And whether in robot or operator mode, SAWTEQ B-300 flexTec’s automatic labelling  of finished parts is possible, with part- and order-specific information for further manufacturing  operations.

What are some other benefits?
With HOMAG’s recut technology, there’s full flexibility in cutting pattern design. Unlimited recuts are possible as long as the panel materials comply with certain minimum and maximum dimensions. This allows manufacturers to adapt quickly to ever-changing consumer preferences and requirements, or future changes in product portfolio.

Why should manufacturers invest in this machine?
Manufacturers no longer have to worry about cutting! With HOMAG SAWTEQ B-300 flexTec, the cutting process is transparent and the whole production process is easily managed. The machine dictates the output and pushes for the next steps in the process. Once the machine is running smoothly, users get no errors in robot mode. Manufacturers also enjoy significant cost reduction per part especially when compared to manual operations. A shortage of skilled machine operators is no longer an issue. Essentially, manufacturers can now invest in a future-proof concept and jump onto the bandwagon of batch size 1 production, together with the top-of-the-line companies in Europe and the Americas.

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