Versatile, flexible, smart – essential requirements for robot saws for woodworking shops!

The demands on carpentry businesses have never been higher: customers expect individual products at favorable prices, short delivery times and the best quality craftsmanship. This requires an increasingly flexible and efficient production process. Businesses have to use their skilled workers in a way that creates as much value as possible – in panel cutting, for example. Robot saws developed by HOMAG especially for woodworking shops help to achieve this goal.

Previously, cutting always required two employees. Feeding and aligning panels, operating the saw, labeling finished parts and destacking them to pallets: the skilled workers were involved in the whole process and the work was physically demanding. Feed solutions and saw-storage combinations then came onto the market, making the work easier and reducing personnel expense. The HOMAG SAWTEQ B-300 flexTec and SAWTEQ B-400 flexTec robot saws are the next big step.

Versatile: HOMAG robot saws for all cutting tasks in woodworking shops

The robot saws combine the best of two worlds, making this combination usable for woodworking shops. The flexibility and throughput of manual panel dividing in series production on the one hand and the cutting of individual parts by robot on the other. With the SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec, for example, users can execute complex special cuts in operator mode or divide entire packages of panels manually — for instance, to increase the throughput when cutting series parts.

The special feature of both HOMAG saws, however, is that they are equipped with an industrial robot. This robot processes cutting patterns for small quantities down to batch size 1 quickly, precisely and – depending on the size and number of parts and the destacking position – for several hours without interruption in unmanned operation. The robot technology is tried, tested and fully integrated in the saw. Machine operators don't need any additional knowledge – it all runs automatically. Jörg Hamburger, Product Manager for Panel Dividing at HOMAG, explains what this means for the flow of materials and parts: "In robot mode, all processes run automatically and are highly efficient. The production flow is much smoother than with manual saw operation. The number of errors is almost zero."

Flexible: New scope thanks to free employee capacities

In robot mode, the SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec can cut up to 800 parts per shift! The capacity in unmanned production depends on the number of destacking tables in the working area of the robot. HOMAG offers various configurations with up to five destacking tables for robot mode – aligned with the individual requirements and space available. This ensures maximum flexibility as early as the planning stage. It's important to know that the saw feed runs as usual – for example, via a connected storage system. This makes the changeover easier.

In particular, the innovations ensure flexibility and ease the burden on the employees. While the saw is processing an entire cutting pattern independently for example, the machine operator can be employed at other stations. "We have customers," confirms Hamburger, "who now use only one employee for the saw, storage and edge banding machine." This increases the value created by each employee. What's more, the robot takes over the handling of the panels. This improves the ergonomics, reduces the number of absences due to illness and makes the work more appealing — a distinct benefit in times of a lack of skilled workers. At the same time, the automatic panel handling protects the materials and minimizes waste.

An important aspect in terms of flexibility is the ability to switch from robot mode to operator mode at any time: for example, for cutting panels or when an urgent order is received at short notice. In such cases, the operator can temporarily interrupt robot mode and operate the saw manually. Once the operator has finished, they switch the machine back to automatic mode and the robot continues from where it left off before the interruption.

Smart: Intelligent panel dividing with software support

The core element of the smart cutting by robot and the smooth-flowing processes is the destacking logic from HOMAG. Controlled by this logic, the robot picks the parts up after the first cut, turns them for subsequent processing, if required, and then destacks the finished parts to the destacking tables. As part of this process the robot creates stable, randomly sorted stacks optimized for further production. This is all possible with the help of the HOMAG destacking software. The algorithms of the software include the further processing stations in their calculations. Thus, for the respective process, stacks are created which are optimized for the specific station, order or material.

Each part on the pallet is also clearly labeled. This is ensured by a patented pressure beam printer that labels all parts in the saw cycle – fully automatically and without any errors. Speaking of automation, HOMAG uses a fully automatic solution on the robot saws, even for the disposal of waste. The principle is that chips and offcuts that are no longer required are fed directly to a disk wheel shredder through a waste flap and shredded there. For example, the system automatically transports the waste to a waste container.

What's even smarter is that HOMAG offers the MachineBoard app in the tapio ecosystem that makes working with the SAWTEQ B-300/B-400 flexTec easier and more mobile than ever before. MachineBoard constantly informs the operator about the current operating and production status of the robot saw via smartphone or tablet, regardless of where the operator is. If manual intervention is required – for example, because the destacking positions will soon be fully occupied – the machine operator is promptly notified in advance.

The benefits of the flexTec in robot mode:

  • Highly efficient batch size 1 production with up to 800 parts per shift
  • Low unit costs per part
  • No operating personnel required
  • Extremely low error rates

The benefits of the flexTec in operator mode:

  • Complete operating freedom in the cutting process
  • Maximum flexibility and manual control, for example for cutting packages or dividing thin panels
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