Networked cells concepts: scalable solutions ranging from small to large

Solutions for woodworking shops and medium-sized business.

At LIGNA, HOMAG is presenting processing cells that can be extended on a modular basis — perfect for medium-sized wood-processing businesses. Each cell is already an ideal solution for efficient panel processing. The individual cells are networked via the driverless transport robots (TRANSBOT), which were first introduced at HOLZ HANDWERK 2018. The ControllerMES production control system takes over higher level control. All of these elements come together to form a fully autonomous and automated production concept for batch size 1 production—from cutting through to fully packed furniture—that can be adjusted variably to suit customer requirements.

Today, businesses are faced with various challenges:

  • How can the process for handling orders be simplified?
    Until now, customer orders recorded in specialist trade first required a technical clarification within the business. Only then was the order recorded internally in the software systems.
  • Increasingly smaller batch sizes today demand ever more flexible production concepts. So how can individual customer requirements be produced faster and more efficiently?
  • How can we counteract high personnel costs and a shortage of skilled workers?
  • How do we respond to the high level of pressure resulting from competition and costs due to an ever more consolidated market?

Visitors can get an insight into what this might look like live in Hanover — at the presentation of a new, integrated cell concept for medium-sized businesses and for businesses entering the world of industrial production:

"Your solution for networked individual cells"


At LIGNA, the following applications will be used in the networked solution for woodworking shops and medium-sized businesses:

Configurator3D and Designer3D

With Configurator3D, users can enter orders quickly and securely. The application also generates photo-realistic representations for sales and release documents. Further visualization options, ranging from view drawings and 3D perspectives in shade mode right through to photo-realistic renderings, also help in the optimal planning of new furniture; thus making complexity and version variety more manageable and reducing special parts. Parts list solutions and CNC data can be generated automatically in the 3D product configurator.

When combined with Designer3D, the point-of-sale solution, it forms the perfect solution for direct sales. The customer is always in focus. Thanks to intuitive operation, specialist advisors are supported from the planning stages through to rendering and the final offer. And the seamless integration into Configurator3D means that data can be used throughout — from point of sale to production.

The "control center": the ControllerMES production control system

A cutting cell, an edging cell, a drilling cell, a packaging cell and driverless transport robots (TRANSBOTs) — but which system has higher-level control? The answer: the ControllerMES production control system. The modular system supports the processes of machining cells and perfects the interaction between human and machine. The focus of this networking lies on the efficient design of production processes, optimum data quality for batch size 1 production and complete data transparency.
Here, ControllerMES provides optimal support for the individual production processes — from direct acquisition and optimization of the production data from Configurator3D through the automated generation of production batches to the definition of material flows and transport paths of driverless transport systems.

"intelliDivide" cutting optimization

The operator loads their jobs into the intelliDivide cutting optimization system — an on-demand software that can be accessed via the tapio ecosystem. The software creates the cutting patterns for the panel dividing saw or even the nesting machine. Waste is optimized according to different criteria (low waste, short run time or simple material handling), so the software can offer a selection of different cutting patterns. This allows the operator to achieve top-level cutting results at clear and precisely calculated prices. The benefits: It saves time, materials and resources.

Tool manager and material manager

How can tool and material management be made more efficient and with fewer errors? The new tool manager and the new material manager can help make these aims a reality. Both are based on the tapio ecosystem.

  • The tool manager: With the tool manager, companies will soon be able to manage all of their tools in a clear overview, easily call up information about the tools or even load information directly to the respective machine. For LIGNA, HOMAG is starting with the management of saw blades for panel dividing saws as an example. To help illustrate how the tool manager works, various manufacturers have added data specific to their saw blades (such as type and geometry, speeds or even material restrictions.) The user scans the barcode on the tool using a smartphone or tablet. They receive the information and transfer the information directly to the machine — if the saw is connected to tapio. The result: No more lengthy searches for data, considerably less manual input and therefore fewer errors. Together with the material manager, the cutting meters between the sharpening cycles are recorded with reference to the processed material.
  • The material manager:
    This tool is used to define material classes and their properties (such as unprocessed chip, Alucobond, lightweight construction.) General information on commercially available densities and average weight can also be added. The user can assign the panels they are already managing to these classes.

intelliStack: Creation and removal of "chaotic" stacks according to the "Tetris principle"

Stacks are often used to decouple production processes in the wood-processing industry. With automated systems, users were previously limited to single-origin or linear stacks. Now, intelliStack allows "chaotic" stacks to be created and removed based on the "Tetris principle". This involves the stack being formed in such a way that as many parts as possible fit on one level (layer). This reduces the stack height, reduces the number of stack outfeeds required and also provides the stack with the necessary stability. The use of a driverless transport system forms an excellent foundation for this kind of logistics system.

MachineBoard: The app from tapio providing an overview of all connected machines

All machines in the networked, individual cells are connected with the tapio ecosystem and visible via the MachineBoard app. This provides the user with a simple overview of all machines, including those from different manufacturers. The app displays machine data and statuses in real time and sends push notifications when the operator is required at the machine. The app also displays a list of the current errors, warnings and actions, including the remaining time until the next action. The advantage for the operator: They are always at the machine at the right time and can be more flexible in their daily work.

TRANSBOT driverless transport system: modern networking for individual cells

At LIGNA, TRANSBOTs will take over the logistic connection between cutting, edging, CNC processing and packaging. The self-driving transport robots navigate freely through the space without any need for mechanical aids such as rails or magnetic strips — making them very flexible when handling logistics tasks.

Once material processing is finished in a production step, the material is stacked on trays (table-like structures.) At LIGNA, this stacking routine will be taken over by different robots integrated into the respective processing cells. Once a stack is complete, a TRANSBOT moves underneath the tray, lifts it and transports the stack out of the transfer station that is connected to the processing cell. It then transports the stack directly to the next processing station or to a surface buffer. This balances out the different cyclic outputs of the individual processing cells. With a total of 8 freely selectable spaces—each accessed individually—empty trays can be set aside and full trays can be stored ready for use until the material is needed again. This ensures high added value as well as continual material supply to the processing centers.

Cutting: SAWTEQ B-300 flexTec with robot management and TRANSBOT transfer station

Regardless of which cutting pattern is being processed on the panel dividing saw, the robot knows just what it needs to do. The robot feeds the saw with a plate for carrying out the rip cut. It then turns the strips and feeds them to the saw again so that it can perform all crosswise cuts and recuts. The finished parts are automatically labelled and the robot stacks the finished parts on pallets in an optimal stack formation. Here too, intelliStack (see Point 5) facilitates the formation and removal of "chaotic" stacks using the "Tetris principle". This involves the stack being formed in such a way that as many parts as possible fit on one level (layer). This reduces the stack height and ensures that the stacks are highly stable.
Once the panel packages have been formed, they are transported to the transfer station via the connected transport route. Finally, a TRANSBOT retrieves the stack and transports it to the next processing cell or to the stack station. The result: fully integrated cutting in a small space.

Edging: EDGETEQ S-500 profiLine with two FEEDBOT E-500s and TRANSBOT

In the edge processing cell, the EDGETEQ S-500 profiLine edge banding machine works fully automatically in combination with two robots and the driverless transport system. The robots and TRANSBOTs take over parts handling and the operator only needs to intervene when changing the edging strips on the edge magazine.

While the EDGETEQ plays to its strengths when edging workpieces, the automation ensures that the right material is provided for edging at the right time. For this purpose, a feeding robot is positioned at the edge infeed. It removes the workpieces for edging from a sorted stack and places them on the feed system one at a time. The second robot is positioned at the outfeed of the edge banding machine. The second robot picks up the processed parts and forms a stack that is arranged ready for the next edging process. The stacks are formed on trays (table-like structures)—once again with help from the intelliStack (see Point 5)—and transported back to the feeding robot at the edging infeed by one of the TRANSBOTs. This process is repeated until the workpiece edging is complete.

The edging cell can flexibly combine all operations. The EDGETEQ can be expanded based on the requirement and desired output — from the stand-alone version, through integration of one or two robots, to the fully automated solution with variable interlinking through the TRANSBOT driverless transport system.

CNC processing: two DRILLTEQ V-200s and a FEEDBOT D-200 robot

The DRILLTEQ V-200 vertical CNC processing center takes care of the entire carcass processing, including drilling, trimming and grooving. At LIGNA, HOMAG will be showing the all-rounder combined for the first time with robot automation. The FEEDBOT D-200 robot will supply two DRILLTEQ V-200 with parts in parallel live at the trade fair, making the processing centers into a single, automated CNC cell.

With this solution, HOMAG will present another example of using automation to increase the added value of manually operated machines. The TRANSBOT driverless transport robot will also be responsible for supplying material to the CNC processing cell. The logistics assistants bring the material stacks from the edging cell or, if required, from the surface buffer directly to the robot's access area, which is installed between the two vertical drilling machines.

As with the cutting and edging cells, a robot also supplies the processing machines with material as soon as the full tray is in position. Since the robot is supplying two machines, it takes parts from the stack one after another and places them into the two vertical drilling machines for processing at the right time. Once the processing is complete, the robot places each part onto a roller conveyor that is integrated into the cell, where they are then transported to the packaging cell.

Packaging: man and machine work together in the packaging area

The fully processed parts are transported directly from the CNC machines to the sorting step in the packaging cell via a roller conveyor. The data for each piece is read using a scanner and for the first time will be made visible for visitors to the plant.

This is where the machine operator comes into play. The operator places the workpieces in a trolley at a position defined by the ControllerMES. The position is displayed on a monitor. From as early as the cutting phase, the production control system already "knows" which part will go where in the trolley later. 40 parts can fit into one of the three trolleys that are ready in the packaging cell. Here too, the TRANSBOT driverless transport system transports the trolleys from sorting to the cardboard cutting machine. Once a trolley is completely filled with material, the operator starts the transport order and a TRANSBOT brings the full trolley to the final processing step in the production cell: packaging. As soon as the operator scans the trolley, the cardboard cutting machine automatically begins cutting the packaging for the furniture parts. While the operator is busy placing the furniture parts in the packaging according to pattern, another trolley is already waiting for the operator at the sorting station.

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