|Among the advantages to advanced woodworking machinery are fast changeover and set up, more accurate adjustments and user-friendly interfaces.
Photo courtesy of Holz-Her US Inc.
|Safety on woodworking machines takes many forms. Shields and drapes protect the operator from flying debris while air hoses connected directly to the cutting apparatus prevent dust from accumulating in the air.
DMG photo by Jessica Sanchez
The Lean Machine
Thanks to new developments in technology and better production techniques, the lean movement has swept through the manufacturing world like wildfire, fueling continuous improvement, waste reduction, flexibility and increased levels of competition. The impact of lean on woodworking machinery has end users calling for machines that will do more with less. Machine sizes are decreasing, set-up times are getting faster and CNC technology is drawing more interest than ever. As demand in the market changes and the cost of production rises, more companies are turning to lean manufacturing.
"Lean is driving most globally competitive companies," says Dick. "That said, the nature of equipment is getting smaller. Smart global producers are looking at multiples of smaller machinery to meet their requirements."
"In addition to the companies currently making a conscious and concerted effort to implement a lean strategy, others are headed in that direction as they react to changes in the marketplace that demand shorter runs and faster deliveries," says Davidson.
With many companies producing smaller runs of more customized products, flexibility is key. CNC machining is one area that has been a large target in the lean movement.
"Lean is having a positive impact on the machinery business, particularly on the CNC segment of business," says Frey.
Susnjara says, "The [machines] need to be flexible, able to perform any job at any time, with little or no setup. These have been basic requirements that have driven CNC machine design for some time now."
Park agrees, saying, "CNC routers and working centers are perfect machines to put in lean cells as they greatly reduce or eliminate setup, combine
machinery operations and are extremely accurate and flexible."
Aside from flexibility and a faster setup, the reduction of material waste is another large part of the lean philosophy. A significant reduction in waste through better material usage can create a positive impact on a company's bottom line.
"Optimization of materials is taking on a greater urgency," says Dick. "Properly implemented, optimization can reduce scrap by as much as 50
percent. This can be the difference between making money and losing it in a global environment."
Working lean is not the only way to save money through woodworking machinery. Today's machines are safer, resulting in savings in insurance and workman's compensation.
Stepping up Safety
New regulations concerning operator safety are making more of an impact on machine design then they have in years past. Matters of safety have gone beyond protecting users from lacerations. Issues such as respiratory and auditory wellness also are changing regulations as new information on
woodworking hazards is made available.
"Safety is making its step-by-step influence," says Dick. "Lungs, ears and the body are becoming areas of distinct concern more and more, where just the issue of lacerations had been the concern for many years."
Remaining compliant with safety regulations often translates into increased price tags on woodworking machinery. However, when compared with the costs associated with employee injury, the decreased risks can be well worth the price.
"While safety regulations may have a direct impact on the capital cost of new machinery, adequate safety is a necessity and the added cost is more than offset by the avoidance of accidents and the ensuing litigation," says Masse.
Standards differ across international lines, and in the case of safety, executives say regulations in the United States are not as strict as those in Europe.
"The ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards governing woodworking machinery are currently in the process of being updated and will be very similar to the CE standards that have existed in Europe for some years," says Davidson.
"Any machinery manufacturer operating in Europe, either buying or selling equipment there, has already implemented many of the new safety regulations that are coming into the U.S. market," he adds.
Since many woodworking machines are now automated, "there is no real interaction between the operator and the machine when it is running," says Susnjara. "The machine is loaded and the processes occur without the operator being involved until the cycle is complete and the machine stops."
However, Masse adds, "Achieving a safe working environment is a two-way avenue. Machinery designers and manufacturers cannot do it alone; the [company] and its employees must adopt safe working practices."
|End Users Sound Off
Wood & Wood Products surveyed the Woodworking VIPs, an online community of readers that act as advisors to the magazine, to gauge their plans for purchasing new machinery.
Of the 264 respondents, 39 percent said they plan on spending about the same on woodworking machinery in 2007 as they did in 2006 and 35.6 percent said they plan on spending more in 2007. A little less than half said they would spend less than $25,000, nearly 1/4 said they plan on spending between $25,000 and $99,999, while the remaining 1/4 plans on spending $100,000 or more. The majority of respondents want to increase productivity with new machinery, followed by improving quality and reducing labor.
To find out more about becoming a Woodworking VIP, visit www.woodworkingVIP.com.
|Source: Vance Research Services|
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