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Trendway increases panel output.


Over the past 10 months, high-end office furniture manufacturer Trendway Corp. has increased its panel saw productivity to the point where a crew of two working one shift can produce as much as one four-man shift used to. While increasing output, the company also has experienced about a 10 percent reduction in raw material waste.

In September 1990, Trendway, based in Holland, Mich., purchased a Holzma Model HPP02-3100 CNC panel saw along with a Cut-Rite Plus software package. The purchase was made after a team of employees, ranging from manufacturing engineers to operators, visited plants and reviewed a number of systems.

"We were wrestling with a couple pieces of equipment," said manager of manufacturing engineering Pal Streur. "All the machines would have done the job very well but it came down to the software. There may be some features we never use but you take that with it."

Mike Huizenga, supervisor of wood machining, added, "As soon as you say you will never use it, the next day you will want it. So far, we haven't found anything we needed to do that we haven't been able to do."

An example of one of the features that attracted the company to Cut-Rite Plus is its memory capacity. "A lot of other systems can inventory only 1,000 boards, but this can inventory up to 99,999," said Streur. "We are now up to 1,400 boards."

Streur added that the company's main objective is to shorten lead times. "Our major goal was not just cost saving on material, but to continue having the shortest lead time in the industry," Streur said.

The panel saw, controller and optimization program, which has been upgraded three times since it was purchased, has helped the company toward that goal. Prior to purchasing the machine, the operator would look at the job, eyeball the board and then make the cuts. Not only did this practice take up valuable time, it also produced excessive wood waste.

Now Huizenga will get a report on how much needs to be done over a week to fill an order. He then breaks the total job down into separate work goals to be completed daily giving the company more control over inventory and work output.

Huizenga begins entering parameters for each job for the week on Wednesday generating cutlists for each day's work. The cutlists will be sorted first by special runs, then by the 20 or so colors in production and then by the parts to be cut within each color category. After figuring how many boards will be needed for a particular day, the cutlist will be sent to the Tyler Power Pod glue press station to laminate the number of needed boards. After a 24-hour curing period, the boards are ready to be cut.

Trendway uses three types of particle-board to create its office systems: 1 1/8-inch particleboard with high pressure laminate (HPL) on the top side only; 1 1/8 particleboard with HPL on both sides; and 5/8-inch particleboard with two sides of HPL.

From each of these panels, the company currently gets about an 85 percent yield. The yield could be greater but because of the variety of colors used and short runs, often some "offcuts" are left over.

The software package generates a label for these offcuts and enters the size, color and dimension of each in its memory. When a new job is called up, the computer checks to see if a workpiece can be cut from an offcut. Of the 15 percent wood not immediately used, 10 percent will eventually be used in this way. The remainder will be donated to a nearby company to be converted into heating fuel.

One of the beneficiaries of this new technology was panel saw operator Doug Bosman but he did not realize it at first. "It is really simple once you get into it," he said. "I was scared to death of it at first."

The cured particleboard is place on the panel saw with the help of a Positech part manipulator which was found at a local auction and adapted for use at Trendway. Bosman and assistant operator Doug South maneuver the boards onto the saw with the help of air floatation tables and the machine will move the board into the proper cutting position with a series of clamps.

"Because it is all automated we both can stack. This is nice, especially when we are cutting these big |honkin' parts," said South.

According to Huizenga some of the features that attracted him to the saw include: an automatic side pressure device which pushes parts against the fence readying them to be cut; an electronic photo eye in the saw carriage which stops the blade just after the end of the wood saving it from having to go to the end of the saw, thus saving time; ease of tool changing; and lack of dust created. Accuracy is also a big plus, Huizenga said.

PHOTO : Saw operator Doug South punches up a program, inset, before running a board through the Holzma panel saw.

PHOTO : Waste is minimized as "offcuts" are filed by color and size for future use.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Trendway Corp.
Author:Adams, Larry
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Previous Article:Cabinets move into furniture arena.
Next Article:Developments in panel optimization.

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