Handling of stacking sticks often appears to be something of a “side issue”. However, the Kallfass installation at the Sägewerk Egger sawmill in Brilon demonstrates the enormous workload reduction automatic feeding brings in packet assembly.
Several thousand stacking sticks need to be handled daily at the Sägewerk Egger sawmill in Brilon. “Previously, the continuous filling of stacking plant magazines during main and side board sorting was an enormously laborious task”, relates Jens-Michael von Werder who is responsible for production technology at the sawmill. Up to nine workers were involved in each shift, which meant a considerable number of personnel were working during three-shift operation. For this reason, it was decided to invest in an automated stick handling system with robot charging of magazines at Egger.
“We found the standard variants available too rigid. We wanted a flexible solution which we could use to handle both drying chamber and stabilisation battens and squared timbers”, continues von Werder. Kallfass, Baiersbronn/DE, offered Egger the perfect solution. “We’d already gain a positive impression of Kallfass during a project in the planing mill. Aside from this, Kallfass has always proved to be a good partner when it came to tackling challenging tasks”, says von Werder. The mechanisation specialist presented those responsible at Egger with a flexible solution that appeared to offer them cutting-edge technology. “We had already installed other automated stick systems in the past, but the project at Egger in Brilon was the most comprehensive to date”, explains Kallfass Managing Director Hans Haist.
In front of the sticks being fed in: Ernst Kallfass, Jens-Michael von Werder and Hans Haist (l. to r.)
Two lines, three robots
The “open-heart surgery”, as von Werder describes it, was performed from April to September, with Kallfass realising the entire automated stick line installation while plant operation continued. The actual installation took two months. “The project went very well and, most importantly, free of accidents. We had practically no downtimes”, confirms von Werder. Egger in Brilon cuts around 1 million m² per annum. The timber is sorted in main and side board plants which are installed in parallel. The new Kallfass line charges both plants with drying chamber and stabilisation battens and squared timbers. Stacking sticks from the dry sorting station are fed together with the squared timbers in uprights to the new Kallfass line. The uprights are discharged onto a buffer conveyor. The system automatically separates the squared timbers from the sticks. The squared timbers are then fed to a stacking system via a separate chain buffer line. The Kallfass control system assigns the squared timbers to both stacking plants based on package data. The sticks take another route, with the Kallfass mechanism separating these and feeding them through a scanner. This determines the dimensions and curvature. Unsuitable sticks are discharged through a flap. The system handles eleven sticks together in each case on an inclined conveyor.
“We anticipate the new stick handling system paying off within a very short space of time”.
Jens-Michael von Werder, responsible for production technology
Andrea, Hubertus and Paul
Andrea, the first robot on the line, grabs these eleven stacking sticks and cycles them into the buffer conveyor. “This is designed for around 3000 sticks”, explains Haist. Hubertus and Paul, the two other robots with swivel arms, pick up the stacking sticks if necessary and deposit them in the new Kallfass packet assembly magazines. “The system is designed for an output of 100 sticks per minute”, estimates Haist. “We hold the property rights to this robot charger”, he adds. There is only one stick length for all package widths in the case of stabilisation battens. These are adapted to the package through positioning and shifting of stick placement. “This solution means we are considerably more flexible than with different lengths, but the cost of materials is higher”, says von Werder. Kallfass also upgraded the stacker and delivered the entire control system over the course of this investment. This means that it is now possible to control the placement of more sticks in the lower five to six layers to prevent timber breakage. From Egger’s point of view, operation of the new stick handling system has been both smooth and absolutely satisfactory. “The goal in the area of stick handling is to now manage with four employees per shift. This means the investment will pay off within a very short space of time”, concludes von Werder.
Feeding the stacking sticks towards the scanner that determines the dimensions and curvature.
… while "Hubertus" is responsible for the main board plant.
The Kallfass system picks up eleven sticks in each case which are cycled onto the buffer conveyor by Andrea.
Kallfass also upgraded the stacker during the course of the new system installation.
"Paul" grabs these sticks and fills the side board plant magazines with them …
More stacking sticks can be placed in the lower five to six layers to prevent timber breakage.
Photos and text: Martina Nöstler, Holzkurier 51-52/2020