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New robot saws from HOMAG: automation with the versatility of manual operation

At LIGNA 2019, the HOMAG panel dividing specialists opened a new chapter in the history of panel cutting. The main character this time: the new SAWTEQ B-300 flexTec.

This robot saw combines the advantages of manual cutting processes with those of autonomous panel division dealt with by a robot. A concept that met with great interest among visitors to LIGNA from May 27 to 31. Further highlights at the Hanover fair included a fully equipped SAWTEQ B-300 saw with storage system integration and intelliGuide – the first assistance system to react to the actions of the operator.  

Automatically efficient. Manually versatile.
SAWTEQ B-300 flexTec and SAWTEQ B-400 flexTec

HOMAG presented the new SAWTEQ B-300 flexTec to an international public for the first time at this year’s LIGNA. What makes this robot saw and the similarly designed SAWTEQ B-400 flexTec so special? Both can be used in either manual or robot mode.

These two new developments can be operated manually in the same way as any other panel dividing saw – for example, for cutting books or thin panels, or for processing special materials. The new saws can be equipped with virtually everything a joiner could wish for – from the operator assistance system intelliGuide basic and Power Concept to grooving, cut-outs, stress elimination cuts and much more. This makes these new saws as versatile as required for the varied tasks of a joiner.

At the same time, operators can use both saws to complete single-panel cutting jobs fully automatically for longer periods – thanks to the integrated robot. An absolute novelty: ergonomic, time-saving and material-friendly.

Great performance with small batches

Visitors to the fair were able to see the performance of the new saw concept for themselves in person. Live shows impressively demonstrated that, regardless of the cutting pattern, the robot knows what it has to do. It feeds a panel to the saw for the rip cuts to be performed. Then, it turns the strips and feeds them to the saw again, so that all the cross cuts and recuts can be completed. The finished parts are automatically labeled and then stacked on pallets by the robot. A number of destacking stations are available to the saw, depending on job type and selected destacking logic. The robot uses highly intelligent software with specially developed algorithms. It uses the destacking stations methodically and creates stable stacks.

  • Autonomous operation possible for longer periods
  • Reduces the pressure on employees at a time of skilled labor shortage
  • Up to 800 parts per shift
  • Low unit costs per part
  • Extremely low error rates
  • No robotics knowledge required
  • Precisely predictable production times

At LIGNA, HOMAG demonstrated a concept for continuing with fully automated processes after cutting. The loaded pallets were collected by HOMAG TRANSBOTs – driverless transport systems – and taken to the next processing station. What was shown was a fully interlinked, highly efficient single-panel cutting process with minimum space requirements.

Double bill premiere: intelligent tool and material management – with the new HOMAG toolManager and materialManager apps

HOMAG Panel Dividing is striving to simplify the work of the machine operator and to create error-free, efficient processes. HOMAG engineers have taken a big step towards achieving this aim with not just one but two new apps, which were shown for the first time at LIGNA.

HOMAG toolManager: All tools. With all data. In one app.

With toolManager, HOMAG for the first time presented an app for intelligent tool management in Hanover. What is the idea behind it? Customers should soon be able to manage all the tools in their company in toolManager, clearly and easily. It will then be possible to retrieve tool data easily and transfer it directly to a production machine.

This is already possible for saw blades for panel cutting. Many tapio partners have already provided the data for their saw blades. Details stored include, for example, saw blade type, diameter, blade plate thickness, recommended speeds, material restrictions and many more. The toolManager app accesses this data. Information on saw blades that are supplied by manufacturers not yet connected to tapio can naturally also be entered manually.

What are the key benefits of the app for users? It will in future save them a lot of prolonged searching. The machine operator will instead simply scan the bar code on the packaging of the tool or select the required tool in the app itself. The stored data will immediately be retrieved and the operator can transfer it to any tapio-ready saw by tapping it. Manual input and potential sources of error are thereby substantially reduced.

Good to know: it is possible to set up and manage custom data for each tool too. Tool names, for instance, can be assigned and tool pairs defined to specify, for example, which scoring saw blade and main saw blade are to be used together. Furthermore, toolManager tracks the history of each tool, including details such as expected life, service life, sharpening cycles etc.

HOMAG materialManager: the app for efficient and mobile material management

As the diversity of materials increases, so does the diversity of data; consequently, HOMAG launched a second new app at LIGNA, this time for material management. Its name: materialManager. It promises greater efficiency and better tracking of the panel materials within the company. Similarly to toolManager, materialManager stores all the material data and makes it available via tapio – retrievable whenever and wherever needed.

In this, the app resembles a virtual materials hub in which all information is pooled. This includes material classes and their properties; weight, dimensions and geometry; manufacturer and price; and the in-house material codes. Convenient for users: they can take data stored in materialManager and, simply by tapping, transfer it directly to the desired application – for example, to Cut Rite, intelliDivide, the CADmatic machine control system or any other digital HOMAG products.

HOMAG’s software specialists demonstrated these and other benefits of the new apps to all interested visitors to LIGNA. toolManager and materialManager are expected to be available from July 2019.

More power and new processing options for the trade

Precision and efficiency in the cutting process do not have to cost a fortune. At this year’s LIGNA, HOMAG demonstrated the truth of this with the SAWTEQ B-130. The smallest HOMAG panel dividing saw met with great interest. No wonder, given that it costs hardly any more than a well-equipped circular saw while providing a significantly more automated cutting process that is quick, very precise and efficient thanks to its modern saw control software. This is achieved by proven technologies as well as extras that are consistently aligned with trade practice. The SAWTEQ B-130 exhibited at the fair was, for example, equipped with module45, an optional feature that allows customers to produce all cuts, including bevels, on one and the same machine. They can work efficiently and flexibly without changing station, at seamlessly adjustable angles ranging from 0 to 46 degrees. New: as of LIGNA 2019, the SAWTEQ B-130 features a 5 mm higher saw blade projection of 65 mm, allowing at least one more panel to be cut additionally in a book if required.

Offering still more power for the trade, the SAWTEQ B-200 could also be seen live at LIGNA. The lifting table version of this compact saw was on show – it now comes standard with a 65 mm saw blade projection that can optionally be increased to 80 mm or even 95 mm. A wide range of needs-based optional features are available for greater throughput, speed and processing diversity. Most notably Power Concept practive, which was installed on the fair model. This option allows several strips with different cross cuts to be cut to length simultaneously – increasing output significantly. New: as of LIGNA 2019, Power Concept practive is also available for SAWTEQ B-200 saws with lifting table feed.

In order to ensure that the machine operator and fair visitors remained calm and in control of the situation when faced with so much power, the saw on show was also equipped with intelliGuide basic. This basic version of the innovative assistance system uses LED light signals at the cutting line to guide the operator intuitively and reliably through the cutting process.

SAWTEQ B-300 with storage system feed and intelliGuide professional

The SAWTEQ B-300 with automatic storage system integration goes a step further. A fully-equipped version of this HOMAG best seller, featuring many extras for high material throughput and ergonomic operation, was on exhibit at LIGNA. Features included an automatic horizontal storage system, an integrated feed-stacking table with panel labeling system, Power Concept professional and intelliGuide professional, the top-of-the-range version of the operator assistance system.

intelliGuide professional is the first assistance system to react intelligently to the actions of the machine operator. An integrated camera system including workplace lighting and special software make this possible. intelliGuide professional sees which part is currently being fed to the saw. It also recognizes the alignment of the workpiece. If the actions deviate from the cutting pattern, intelliGuide will either flexibly adapt the cutting process – where possible and expedient – or give the machine operator instructions for appropriate action.

For this, intelliGuide professional is equipped not only with the LED strip at the cutting line but also with a laser projection unit. The latter projects clear instructions for processing and actions directly onto the current workpiece. Arrows on the workpiece show the operator how he should turn and position it, for example. An X means that the wrong part has been inserted. The trash can symbol indicates waste parts. Thanks to the self-explanatory pictograms, the operator always knows which steps he should carry out next.

  • Intuitive machine operation
  • Systematic means of avoiding errors
  • Fast processes: operator and saw work hand-in-hand
  • The operator rarely needs to look at the monitor and so can concentrate on processing the cutting pattern
  • Smooth, ergonomic processes for efficient and concentrated work
  • Easy to change operator at any time
  • For the first time in history, the saw reacts to the actions of the operator!

Machine operation 2.0 – exciting prospects for the future at the HOMAG Innovation Center

intelliGuide professional has already revolutionized machine operation in cutting processes today, but it has by no means reached the end of its development. The HOMAG panel dividing experts demonstrated this once again live in the HOMAG Innovation Center at the flagship fair in Hanover. One of the developments on show here was a conceptual study that may very soon become the next important milestone on the road to machine operation 2.0. Reactions and feedback from trade visitors were gratefully received by the HOMAG experts in the Innovation Center and will be taken into consideration in future work.

NEW: the next generation of powerTouch

HOMAG furthermore showcased the latest generation of the powerTouch user interface, which is standard across the Group. Thanks to its improved interface design and enhanced functionality, the new version takes interaction between human and machine to a higher level, making it better and more ergonomic than ever.

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