Ro-Bois-Tic, Saint-Apollinaire, QC — It’s been lights-out manufacturing for the panel processor, which has the distinction of being North America’s first one-man, one-robot woodworking factory.
The brainchild of Bastien Larouche,Ro-Bois-Tic provides OEM components to cabinet companies and other manufacturers. The model is uses is based on lean manufacturing and fast turnaround. “One of the best things about the robotic cell, it is extremely flexible to meeting fluctuating demand. I can operate from 20 hours one week to 120 hours the next,” he says.
Larouche worked with Machineries Automatech on the robotic cell. Orders are input in the computer and sent to the Kuka robot. Gliding along an 80-foot rail that spans the line, the robot begins production. This involves: pulling full-size sheets of laminated panels from the rack and positioning them onto the Thermwood CNC router; moving parts from the router to the Fravol edgebander then onto the Omal drill and dowel insertion machine; then placing the completed part into the prescribed bin, ready for assembly. CNC Automation supplied Ro-Bois-Tic with the key pieces of panel processing equipment.
Down the road, Larouche says he plans to add another CNC router to increase the capacity of the cell. “In my business plan, I am looking to have half of my production devoted to office furniture and the other half to kitchen cabinets.”