Automated production of worktops

SACHSENKÜCHEN, with a long tradition of manufacturing kitchens from its base near Dresden relies on high-tech plants from the IMA Schelling Group. As part of the expansion of the manufacturer's automated production processes for worktops, IMA Schelling developed a tailor-made solution for the kitchen specialist

Tradition and progress are two words that best describe the entrepreneurial spirit of SACHSENKÜCHEN. Founded 115 years ago in Dippoldiswalde, near to Dresden, the company has always dedicated itself to technical progress and was one of the first kitchen manufacturers to fully edge-band their fronts using the laser process. IMA Schelling helped develop the laser-assisted seamless joint process with other partners 15 years ago, and has been working with SACHSENKÜCHEN ever since. When the kitchen specialist wanted to install a new plant for worktop production, they turned to the IMA Schelling Group once again.

"We needed a system for processing our entire range of worktops, including all the different thicknesses up to maximum dimensions of 5300 x 1200 mm," explains SACHSENKÜCHEN Team Leader Maik Kulkulka. The company's other requirements included extremely high-quality processing of a variety of materials and the ability to produce custom cutouts for sinks and hobs. "On top of this, two manual CNC machines had to be taken out and the new automated plant brought in and installed within a short time frame. We worked with SACHSENKÜCHEN to ensure this ran smoothly," explains Phil Koppenborg, a project manager at IMA Schelling.

A completely tailor-made solution

IMA Schelling and SACHSENKÜCHEN worked together to design a completely tailor-made solution – even down to the paintwork of the plant in the customer's preferred colour – that meets these requirements. At the heart of the solution is a BIMA Px80 high-performance gantry-type machine, which can produce workpieces of varying complexity in parallel on two worktables. The processing centre is equipped with two milling spindles, each with two 18-station tool changers and a VT 100/100 edge banding unit with automated angle adjustment up to 45°, which can process edges up to a height of 104 mm. There is also a fully automated AEK fine finishing unit for flush milling, profile drawing and flat scraping with up to three profiles in one unit.

The plant performs the entire edge-banding process on the components in both the longitudinal and transverse directions as well as moulded part processing. The BIMA Px80 can also process all special variants of kitchen worktops and plastic worktops and hotplate covers with respect to their shape and design.

Only one manual operation

"Our engineers designed an automated process for worktop production in cooperation with SACHSENKÜCHEN," says Koppenborg. The on-site system consists of an area storage system, which automatically brings the sheets to a cut-off saw where the worktop is cut lengthwise and crosswise. The worktops are transported manually via conveyors to the IMA Schelling plant and then stored temporarily or conveyed straight to the BIMA Px80 infeed.

The processing centre then requests the worktops, which are automatically placed on the machine by a separate loading gantry. After processing, this gantry removes the finished worktops from the BIMA Px80 and places them on trolleys.

Fully automated in batch size 1

"The plant is designed to produce complex workpieces in an automated and efficient manner with minimal operator intervention," explains project manager Koppenborg. This requirement has been fully met for the process from workpiece transfer from the on-site cutting-to-size section onwards. The buffering, feeding and processing of components, including finishing and stacking heavy worktops, is fully automated for batch size 1 production.

"The processing centre has been in operation for almost a year, during which time our requirements continue to be met without any hiccups," emphasises Maik Kulkulka. The SACHSENKÜCHEN team is completely satisfied with the service provided by IMA Schelling too. "The remote support service using a ticket system guarantees any issues are dealt with promptly. Planned maintenance is carried out efficiently and breakdowns are always rectified quickly," he adds. SACHSENKÜCHEN has no hesitations about working with IMA Schelling again and has even commissioned their next project with the company – automation of the entire front production in storage, cut-to-size and edging machines including transport technology, gantry feeders and robot sorting systems for fronts upstream of a drilling and mounting machine. The successful partnership between SACHSENKÜCHEN and IMA Schelling Group looks set to continue!