Ready for infinite variety

Rethinking edge handling: IMA Schelling's new fully automated edge handling system reduces complexity in edging and joining while improving edge availability, edge variance and the degree of automation. It also boosts process reliability, and the utilisation factor and total output of the edge banding machine.

Customisation in furniture manufacturing is, with modern batch-size-1 systems, leading to bigger and bigger edge magazines. By now, very large and complex 48- and 96-reel-tape magazines are common. And although the production process works almost entirely unmanned, edge handling in particular requires numerous manual interventions. Up to five manual hold-down clamps per track have to be adjusted very precisely to the respective edge height – with large magazines, this can quickly add up to a few hundred interventions. Moreover, the increasing variety in edge materials and strengths make it more difficult to design optimal edge shafts. At the same time, every edge change involves numerous potential sources of trouble, which can lead to a high failure frequency and lower the total output. But how can these problems be solved? A team from the Technology & Innovation division at IMA Schelling, in cooperation with external edge experts, is seeking a solution: they have designed a completely new, fully automated edge handling system that was presented to a specialist audience for the first time at the Open House event this May.


The modular, and thereby scalable, edge handling stands apart, right next to the edge banding machine. It consists of

  • standardised edge cassettes in three different heights (50, 80 and 127 mm for the max. edge heights 35, 65 and 112 mm) for all common edge materials
  • a vertically moveable cassette tower equipped with up to 12 edge cassettes directly in front of the edge joining unit
  • a rotating, vertically movable operating unit for changing the edge cassettes in the cassette tower
  • up to three magazine towers, each with 30 cassettes, that are arranged in a circle around the system and from which the operating unit serves the cassette tower
  • a single-track edge joining unit with just a single, fully automated supply track, which replaces the conventional multiple magazine and which adapts fully automatically to the edge parameters

The edge materials are passed from the edge cassette to the edge joining unit automatically. Sensor-based monitoring and evaluation of the edge strips guarantees the highest possible level of process reliability


  • fully automated handling of the edge material rolls
  • improvement in total system output through increased process reliability and availability of edge joining
  • significantly reduces complexity in edge joining by focusing on a single edge shaft
  • automated processing of almost unlimited edge variance
  • clear identification and inventory management of the edge materials
  • modular, scalable system for different performance requirements
  • customer-specific concepts can be implemented
  • can be implemented later as a modernisation measure


“We are currently using a prototype to test the various customer requirements and to gather experience. We are also already including the new system in current projects,” says Dennis Reddig, Product Management Edge Processing at IMA Schelling, about the project’s current status. He and his colleagues have already developed concept studies on connecting the new edge handling system to an automated warehousing and logistics system to achieve the fully automated supply of the edging system with an almost limitless number of edge materials. This autonomous supply can be carried out on the basis of shuttle vehicles via a line buffer or a central warehouse. The transport of the cassette (stack) by automated guided vehicle (AGV) is a third alternative.

“With that kind of system we’d be able to move the edge materials from the warehouse into the edge magazine and process them there – all fully automated, without any manual interventions,” explains the project manager Hendrik Gerdwilker from Mechanical Development Processing at IMA Schelling.


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