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The key to success: Automated warehouse logistics for individualized panel production


In addition to its industrial wood processing installations, the company IMA Schelling offers the required highly efficient logistics solutions for large panel factories. Together with the IMA Schelling “Board” business unit, the Austria-based manufacturer of wood-based panels, EGGER, has begun to optimize its material flow and warehouse logistics. The result: higher performance and more flexibility.

Semi-forward roll: a drum-type turnover machine rotates an impregnated paper stack through 180°.

Access: the warehouse is designed to allow individual order picking.

A central pillar of the company Egger Holzwerkstoffe is the production of decorative panels for furniture manufacturers and interior construction contractors. Fast supply of quantities that can be produced in single component manufacture or, depending on the order, in diversified small batches is the key to success in this field. However, this requires a flexible logistics system. At IMA Schelling, the “Board” business unit has specialized in providing the logistic services. Both partners are currently optimizing the existing plant layout of a panel factory in close cooperation and in several expansion stages. The new work cell for efficient warehousing and order picking is individually tailored to the needs of the user.

Automatic sorting of the panels to be surfaced

Sanded raw panels enter the warehouse on stacks, 5 metres high and weighing up to 50 tons. Here, the order picking system breaks the large stacks down into smaller stacks, one metre high, which are then stored in the LTW high-bay warehouse. In the opposite direction, when the order picking system takes panels from the high-bay warehouse, it arranges the panels in tall order-based stacks for the short-cycle press lines. In this process, the system stacks single panels or panel packages on top of each other so that they are in the right sequence. The warehouse has approximately 1450 storage positions for panel stacks. In addition to storage and order picking of raw chipboard panels, the high-bay warehouse is also utilized for MDF panels. Moreover, it supplies panel stacks to the IMA Schelling panel cutting cell.

Automatic turnover and accurate alignment of impregnated paper stacks

Already in the first expansion stage, Egger invested in a high-bay warehouse at the Brilon site. In this high-bay warehouse system, which was also delivered by IMA Schelling's cooperation partner LTW, impregnated papers and decorative panels are stored. A semi-automatic order picking system for the decorative papers is located in the zone in front of the high-bay warehouse. Using a special drum-type turnover machine, the impregnated paper stacks for the undersides of the decorative panels are turned over (i.e. rotated through 180°). During the turnover process, the base board is exactly aligned to the correct distance from the decorative paper.

These order-based stacks of impregnated papers stay in the high-bay warehouse until they are processed by the presses. Depending on the order, panel stacks as well as impregnated paper stacks – sorted in the order in which they will be processed – can be fed from the warehouse. The press then joins together raw panels having the required thicknesses and the applicable decorative surfaces exactly as ordered.

This material flow significantly reduces the setup times of the presses, because pre-sorted stacks of panels and decorative papers are fed to the presses in accordance with the quantities and types specified in the orders. Hence, no remaining products need to be returned. The decorative panels, after they were surfaced, are either re-entered into the high-bay warehouse, or they are fed to the panel cutting cell or carried directly to the packaging line.