We all know robots are playing an ever-growing role in wood manufacturing, but most of that has been in material handling connected to CNC routers. Now Biesse has announced new technology that it will introduce at Ligna and AWFS this year that basically replaces the beam saw operator with a robot.
Paolo Pezzoli, Biesse Selco product area manager, says the new WN 6 ROS (Robotically Operated System) panel saw totally changes how production managers look at beam saws. “Until now, an operator had to be in front of the machine, constantly moving panels, rotating strips, pressing the start button to begin every cutting cycle and most of the time, manually applying labeling and performing other operations,” said Pezzoli. “The game-changer with the Selco WN 6 ROS is that we have kept the frame of a standard machine but replaced the air tables, so everything can be done by the robot instead of an operator.”
The process changes begin even before the materials are loaded into the saw. Pezzoli notes how many human operators struggle with sorting parts from different jobs, but that’s not a problem for the robot. “A robot can easily keep them all in order and apply software-generated labeling, effectively eliminating mix-ups and errors as the parts move on to drilling, edgebanding or other processes,” said Pezzoli. “Efficiency is also enhanced because a robot doesn’t need breaks like an operator.”
The system also adds consistency to the process because there is no difference in how different operators handle the work. “When you have someone on the first shift with 10 years of experience and someone on the third shift who just started, you aren’t assured of consistent quality,” Pezzoli said. “The robot performs the operation in the exact same way today, a month from now, and a year from now.”
The Selco WN 6 ROS panel saw incorporates Biesse’s patented Twin Pusher 2.1 for faster operation and optimizing of movements during the cutting cycle. The robotic system also eliminates the need for an operator to stop the machine and handle waste management. Trims fall into a trap and are managed automatically.
Biesse officials said the machine is a direct response to high employment rates and the difficulty many plants are having in finding skilled workers. “The competition is intense for both highly skilled and unskilled positions, especially since the woodworking industry may not be the first choice among younger workers who are interested in jobs focused on technology instead of manual work,” Pezzoli said. “Investing in robotics now will succeed in lowering payroll and training costs for years to come.”
Biesse plans to publicly introduce the new technology at its stand at the Ligna woodworking show in Germany in May. The North American debut will take place at the AWFS Las Vegas show in July.
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