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12/16/2014

Industry 4.0 in the wood-processsing industry: Intelligent System from Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Germany – "it’s OWL"

174 companies, universities and other partners – amongst them IMA Klessmann GmbH – have joined forces to create the technology network "it's OWL". The network partners, distinguished as a Leading-Edge Cluster by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), develop intelligent technical systems in 46 research projects. The aim is to develop intelligent technical systems for Industry 4.0 and merge the real and virtual world to form the "Internet of Things".

As part of this Leading-Edge Cluster, IMA Klessmann GmbH, in cooperation with the partner companies Nobilia Küchen and Beckhoff Automation, drives four important projects. These are the optimisation of the contour-milling unit CMU, automatic measuring and correction of furniture part geometry, improving energy efficiency as well as developing related control and software solutions.

The contour-milling unit (CMU) transfers the profile of the longitudinal edges of the workpiece to the side edge and so ensures the overall high-quality character of the product. This is being optimised in various respects in the course of the project. At the focus is the independent calibration and setting up of the unit. The aim is to achieve an optimum result at high throughput speeds and simplify handling. In addition, various other measures are being developed that improve the processing quality in general.  

The patented edge thickness metering system determines the actual edge thickness, which is used as the reference setting for positioning the finishing units. This guarantees reliable machining and so the reproducible high quality of the furniture parts. The thickness tolerance of such an edge can be up to ± 0.2 millimetres and is equalised fully automatically by the system. Presently, practical tests for this research project are being conducted during normal operations at the customer and the measuring results are being analysed.

The automatic measuring and correcting of the furniture parts geometry is also being conducted during normal operations, in order to achieve the highest possible throughput speed with smaller gaps between the parts being produced. A prototype of the format measuring system already exists. Work is currently being carried out on the required sensor technology and image processing systems.

Energy efficiency means supplying the system with the energy it needs and shutting down units that are not required. Conventional machines start up all units when they are switched on. These run constantly and consume energy even if they are not actually being used. Modern control technology checks material, thickness and feed rate in order to adjust the power supply or shut down production units, making energy-savings of up to 30 per cent possible.

In the next steps, the controls and the software will be adjusted according to the findings. The aim is to achieve sustainable production processes using intelligent automation technology. Here the mechanical engineering company IMA supports the software manufacturer Beckhoff importantly by pointing out optimisation potentials. Nobilia as a User of the technologies developed by IMA and Beckhoff provides important feedback regarding the practicability during the actual process of furniture manufacturing.

"We see ourselves as technology leaders in the wood-processing and furniture industry. Already today we can realise fully automated, reliable systems where the customer need only press a button after the half-formats have been delivered to have a finished cupboard or desk ready for delivery at the end of the line – equipped with a barcode or an RFID tag with all information for the further logistics. We use the Leading-Edge Cluster "it’s OWL" to advance our pioneering lead," explains Rüdiger Schliekmann, Managing Partner at IMA Klessmann GmbH.