Automation is advancing further in woodworking shops – with innovative tools such as intelliOptimizer Stacking

Automation and smart factory concepts are very popular with wood processing businesses. In cutting, they can be implemented with the SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec robot saws and digital products from HOMAG. The options grow with the wealth of tools available. With intelliOptimizer Stacking, a digital HOMAG product has now been added that significantly reduces the number of stacks for automated destacking and thus the work involved for the operator.

In woodworking shops, the individual cutting of parts and small batch sizes are part of everyday life in production. Only businesses that can organize these activities as efficiently as possible can remain competitive over the long term. Businesses that use HOMAG robot saws such as the SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec to complete these tasks are at the forefront of progress. Up to 800 parts per shift can be produced — fully automatically with no personnel. And the trend is rising, because with an increasingly wide range of digital products, HOMAG is ensuring that the robot, which is fully integrated in the saw, can complete the cutting of parts over increasingly long lines with no interruptions and therefore more efficiently.

intelliOptimizer Stacking — the consistent further development of the HOMAG destacking algorithm

To clarify: to ensure that the HOMAG SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec saws are equally suitable for robot mode as well as classic operator mode by hand, all finished parts are destacked to pallets as usual. In this process, the pallets for robot mode are located on up to five individually set up lifting tables in the working area of the robot. Controlled by an algorithm, the robot can create randomly organized stacks on the pallets fully automatically. The stacks are stable and can be optimized by commission or material as required and therefore aligned with the subsequent processing stations.

With the new intelliOptimizer Stacking, HOMAG has now developed the destacking algorithm further consistently and integrated it into a digital tool. This tool can be operated intuitively without any further knowledge and in a flash, delivers precisely tailored destacking strategies for defined objectives and optimization requests.

Fewer stacks, fewer interruptions, more output

What is the best possible utilization of the stacking positions? Which strategy eases the workload for the personnel most effectively? How can automatic production be expanded to a maximum? How can the productivity of the plant be increased? For the SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec robot saw, the HOMAG destacking algorithm already delivers specific answers to these questions. The optimization with intelliOptimizer Stacking is even better and is tailored from A to Z. During the work preparation, the tool determines the best possible individual destacking strategy for every single run. The user simply transfers the results directly to the saw.

What does intelliOptimizer Stacking do specifically? The tool reduces the number of stacks and thus the number of stack changes required by up to 20 percent. This is achieved by a thorough, stack-based resorting of the cutting patterns. In turn, this improves how the robot uses the pallets. intelliOptimizer Stacking extends the intervals between the stack changes and stretches the ghost shifts out; in contrast to previously, the saw thus completes the part cutting over longer distances autonomously. This means less idle time and more output in robot mode.

One tool, two ways to use it

Users can use intelliOptimizer Stacking from HOMAG flexibly in two ways according to their requirements. The first way is by means of Cut Rite. HOMAG provides intelliOptimizer Stacking as a separate tool for this proven optimization software. The cutting patterns are uploaded directly from Cut Rite to intelliOptimizer Stacking and analyzed. The tool does not change anything in the cutting patterns themselves. It reduces the number of stacks solely via intelligent resorting.

The second way to use the tool is via intelliDivide Cutting Premium. HOMAG has already integrated intelliOptimizer Stacking into this app fully — anyone who uses the app can use the new tool straight away. intelliDivide Cutting Premium takes the stack situation into account during the process of dividing with a SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec and offers users various options for selection after optimization.

intelliOptimizer Stacking — the benefits at a glance

  • Fewer stacks
    Resulting in fewer stack changes and less use of space
  • Longer intervals
    The operator can make better use of the work time gained in this way for activities that create value
  • Longer autonomous production
    Increases the cutting performance in the daily shifts and in particular, the ghost shift, to increase cutting pre-production for the next day 
  • Makes configuration of the plant easier
    Fewer stacks means fewer stack positions, less space used and a reduction in procurement costs
  • Higher production performance
    More parts per shift in robot mode due to less idle time

Interview with an expert

"intelliOptimizer Stacking makes robot saws for woodworking shops better and more economical"

Two years ago, with the introduction of the HOMAG SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec robot saws, a new age began in woodworking shops: the age of unmanned cutting. The saws complete the cutting over longer distances autonomously but can also be operated manually. And that will continue. What is new is a digital product that significantly extends the phases of autonomous production: intelliOptimizer Stacking. The HOB editing team spoke to Arne Mömesheim, Product Manager Software at HOMAG Plattenaufteiltechnik GmbH, about the new development.

Mr. Mömesheim, the aim of intelliOptimizer Stacking is to reduce the number of stacks produced when destacking with a robot. To what extent is that successful?

Arne Mömesheim: Tests have shown that the gains in efficiency are significant. We have evaluated the production data of some customers over a longer period. The result is that with intelliOptimizer Stacking, on average, approximately 20 percent fewer stacks are required, and in some cases, the effects are significantly higher than this. In this process, the number of parts per stack increases by up to one third. In total, this leads to 20 percent fewer stack changes and therefore to significantly less idle time.

What does that mean for businesses and users in practice?

Anyone using intelliOptimizer Stacking extends the phases of autonomous production in cutting. During the day shifts, this means fewer stack changes and a reduction in non-productive times, and the nighttime ghost shift is significantly longer. This increases the output. Furthermore, the operator has significantly more space and time between the stack changes for other value-creating activities.

As a digital product, will intelliOptimizer Stacking be incorporated into the tapio ecosystem as usual?

Yes, definitely. intelliOptimizer Stacking will be offered via tapio and is therefore part of the tapio ecosystem. This means a lot of benefits for users and is decisively important for the tool to work, as our robot saws are also connected to the ecosystem. This allows the tool to recognize the configuration of the respective machine and adapt the sorting to the individual machine.

Should the tool also be aimed only at customers who are using SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec in the future too?

The sorting algorithm creates data for the automatic stacking process, so for destacking by robot. Only flexTec machines from HOMAG are equipped with a robot. The use of intelliOptimizer Stacking therefore generally makes sense for these machines. In the first step, however, we have restricted ourselves to the robot saws for woodworking shops, the SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec. The expected effects through the reduction in the workload for personnel are highest here. In a second step, we will certainly address the fully automatic HOMAG machines of the type SAWTEQ B-320 flexTec as well. However, there is no fixed schedule for this yet.

Optimized storage movements, cutting patterns, stack formations ... is there anything left in the value creation chain for which HOMAG sees additional optimization potential?

We have nowhere near exhausted the potential for process optimizations. The optimization of stacks alone is a topic that is important for many production steps. Cutting is just the beginning. It is and remains an exciting challenge to keep the entire production chain in mind for all process optimizations. There is still a lot of dormant potential here.

What long-term plans does HOMAG have with regard to digitalization, automation and artificial intelligence?

Well, that remains our trade secret. What I can promise though, is that we will continue to expand our digital product pallet: in cutting as well as in all other technology areas. We are aware that our customers' businesses are very heterogeneous. Therefore, we focus heavily on networking all of our products. HOMAG started to develop digital solutions at a very early stage and that is paying off today. We are now profiting from a stable foundation of knowledge and experience.

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