Manufacturers and users working hand-in-hand
"Where life plays out." Leading Swiss kitchen manufacturer Veriset uses this in its advertising. Veriset sees the kitchen as living space and as a result, demands the highest standards of quality and individuality from its products. The requirements for the production systems are in turn revealed in a very specific order that the company placed with the IMA Schelling Group, the specialist in machines and plants for furniture production.
20,000 kitchens per year
Root is a municipality in the Canton of Lucerne, in Central Switzerland. The Veriset family business has been growing for more than 50 years and the company is the leading kitchen manufacturer in Switzerland. A staff of more than 350 now produces 20,000 kitchens per year. "Manufacturing output has increased to this figure from the mere 3,500 kitchens produced in 1999, the year the company was founded," says Christian Kramis, Head of Production & Logistics at Veriset, describing the development of the company. "And all with virtually no changes to the production area and a significant increase in product variety." These both meant that purchasing a new, modern edging system was inevitable.
To develop this system, detailed specifications were sent to all the relevant plant manufacturers, with the contract finally being awarded to the Lübbecke-based specialist. "IMA Schelling created the best concept in the overall package," stresses Christian Kramis.
Interlinked edge banding machines
Jochen Fink, Key Account Sales Manager and his project team managed the project at IMA Schelling. "We created a layout after only one meeting, and, by the end, had only adjusted some of the details," recounts Fink. Everything was implemented surprisingly quickly, especially as Veriset's requirements were specific and demanding.
The plant had to be designed with two interlinked edge banding machines. Two tried-and-tested Combima machines with laser edging from IMA Schelling were selected. Connected together by handling and fitted with a return line, they were to carry out four-sided edge banding in two passes. Nothing unusual so far.
But there were also four specific requirements. Number one: the operation of the two machines, arranged one behind the other lengthwise, was to stay on the same side. Usually, workpieces are moved from the first machine to the second machine by diagonal rollers. This shifts the reference line, which means that the second machine is operated on the other side. This is exactly what Veriset did not want.
"We resolved the issue with a double turning station, so that workpieces are not turned by 90°, but instead by 180°. So handling remains on the same side," says Jochen Fink. "In an expensive country like Switzerland, we have to focus on specific staff deployment. The layout we inaugurated and which IMA Schelling then implemented allows full capacity operation with one employee as a system supervisor," explains Veriset management board member Christian Kramis.
Movable turning station
Challenge 2: when production stops on one of the two interlinked machines, production should continue on the other one. Veriset's own experience meant that this so-called "phase red" was an extremely important aspect. "Our idea was unique," explains Fink, who works in Sales at IMA Schelling. The double turning station has already been used for other customers, but this solution was developed specifically for Veriset. The turning station is mounted on guide rails and can be moved manually with one hand. This allows both machines to be run individually at a reduced capacity, should one of the two machines malfunction.
A simple idea, but a technically demanding option, as the unit that has to be moved is big and heavy. The rails used here are otherwise found in aircraft construction. Kramis is delighted with the workaround: "I think that this really shows IMA Schelling at its best." "Phase red" has never occurred, however, since Veriset started production with the plant almost a year ago. This says something about the high technical availability of IMA Schelling machines.
Sophisticated grooving concept
To meet challenge 3 – specific grooving and rebating machining for producing superimposed and milled-in handle strip fronts – IMA Schelling developed a sophisticated concept, where several grooving units work in combination.
The precision of this interaction and the quality of the machining have a direct impact on subsequent production steps at Veriset. "Our furniture is set up by our kitchen fitters. If the grooves needed for the fitting strips, pedestal and cover panels are accurately machined, the fitters can do their work more quickly," explains Christian Kramis.
To resolve the fourth specific requirement, IMA Schelling established test production at its own site in Lübbecke. Jochen Fink outlines the task: "Veriset sometimes processes extremely narrow and long workpieces of 104 x 2700 millimetres in size." These are used as base faceplates on the fronts of Veriset furniture. The question was: Could the IMA Schelling infeed and end stop system cope with such unusual dimensions? Three weeks of internal testing settled the matter: yes, it certainly could!
"IMA Schelling were the best at recognising and implementing our sometimes quite specific needs," acknowledges Kramis. And in-house too, the company is highly satisfied with the German plant specialist. "Exciting challenges are our bread and butter and we happily accept them," says Jochen Fink, who has already provided support for many project developments.
On site with eight experts
Veriset and IMA Schelling have already cooperated brilliantly in developing and designing the plant and are also working successfully, hand-in-hand, on installation and commissioning. A total of 20 truckloads of machine parts were delivered, which, once installed, should produce an edging system approximately 70 metres in length. Eight experts from the plant manufacturer were on site for set up and familiarisation.
Training for Veriset employees began far earlier, however. Maintenance personnel and system supervisors from Switzerland were already involved in setting up the system on IMA Schelling's premises. This was one of the key factors in the familiarisation and qualification concept that IMA Schelling had created for the project.
"The fact that our maintenance personnel were already involved in the cabling and installation of the units, and our system supervisors were present when the units arrived on the premises, meant that the cross-company team was already well-established when the system was installed at our premises," recounts Christian Kramis. The human factor should not be forgotten, even with sophisticated high-tech plants: "The people dealing with this technically extremely complex system are ultimately the key to success." To safeguard and consolidate their skills, the Veriset personnel involved got together with IMA Schelling specialists to write a detailed operation manual, precisely tailored to the needs of the employees.
One of the most modern furniture production systems
Now one of the most modern furniture production systems in the world is doing its job in Root in Switzerland. Front parts and furniture sides are produced fully automatically, including edge and groove processing. A high-performance camera system ensures automated quality control. The plant not only safeguards the quality and range of variants of Veriset's furniture, it also ensures that production at the Swiss location is competitive.
The Veriset team is completely satisfied with the systems and the service provided by IMA Schelling, so much so that the Swiss-based company has since also acquired the digitalised Combi.cut cutting system. The two companies plan to continue their collaboration, with production gradually developing until full automation is achieved.
Veriset was not just convinced by the product and service quality from IMA Schelling, but also by the collective spirit of the company. "For a family-run company like Veriset, aspects such as partnership and consistency are also important," stresses Christian Kramis, "and we have found these values at IMA Schelling."