Wood products manufacturers tend to view material handling as a non-value adding activity that is nontheless a necessity in their production processes. This is mainly due to the fact that material handling does not add any monetary value to the final product in the way that cutting or nesting the raw material does.

Smart Material Handling for Panel ProductsWhen you consider, however, that the typical panel saw or CNC machine operator spends just as much time looking for the right material as for processing it, one might wonder whether smart material handling solutions shouldn’t be considered value-adding after all.

Striving to get the most production out of manufacturing equipment, Bargstedt has developed a smart storage and retrieval system. The TLF210 is based on its bigger brother TLF410 and is tailored for small and medium size woodworking businesses.

The TLF210 is a retrieval system that optimizes its stock based on the requirements of current production needs. Raw material is stored in stacks on the floor. These stacks can either be with all the same material and size or chaotic with various types and sizes of materials. The system knows at all times where each sheet is located and optimizes the position based on material type and usage. This means that heavy runners are placed automatically close to the saw and/or CNC machine in order to optimize the efficiency on those machines. The main goal is to eliminate idle time based on the company's production equipment.

While supplying the production machines with raw material has the highest priority, the system utilizes the time in-between to store/load new material into the system from the infeed place and to optimize the panel positions based on usage and demand. At night most companies have the system pre-stack panels in sequence for the next production day close to the saw/CNC.

The high-performance software that drives the TLF210 is called woodStore. In addition to the control of the storage and retrieval system woodStore also visualizes the content of the system in 3-D and allows easy-to-use functionality to work efficiently with inventory. woodStore can be controlled either from the control panel of the TLF210 or through your saw and/or CNC machine that is connected to the system.

Smart Material Handling for Panel ProductsBased on the production order (cut lists / nesting sequence) the system will supply each manufacturing machine just in time. Offcuts can be automatically re-introduced into the system. This means in a setting with a panel saw, the program fence of the saw will pull back the offcut and hand it over to the TLF210. No additional handling is required.

In most situations offcuts will have priority in future optimization runs. This helps keep the total amount of off-cuts at a bare minimum while significantly increasing performance and yield.

The system is capable of handling all common board sizes lincluding 4x8, 5x10, 5x12 as well as larger sheets and smaller offcuts.

David Mauer is project manager for Homag Canada based in Mississauga, ON. He can be reached at David.Mauer@Homag-Canada.ca.

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