Eggers Goes to Fully Automated Edgebanding
Eggers Industries implemented a fully automated edgebanding line at its Architectural Doors Division in Neenah, Wis., bringing flexibility and short changeover times to the Two Rivers-based door and component manufacturer.
The Neenah plant focuses solely on five-ply architectural flush doors.
Historically, Eggers’ doors were made with solid wood edges. The applied edges were trimmed, sanded and then finished. Only 17 percent of its doors were actually edgebanded, and those were only by request. Two years ago, the company decided to investigate a cost effective way to edgeband all of its doors and eliminate its solid wood edge in order to remain cost competitive and offer higher quality product to its customers, as edgebanding would provide a better-looking door due to the superior matching of edgebanding veneer and face veneer. Today, its remodeled edgebanding line features an automated system consisting of two edgbanders along with feeders, stackers and conveyor units.
Door orders are first entered into Eggers’ ERP system, creating a license tag and base file with all pertinent information for each door. With the license tag, each door is barcoded. As each door enters the edgebanding line, the doors are scanned individually and processed one door at a time. The base file contains information to automatically set up the edgebanders with the correct species, bevel and door swing. The two edgebanders are set up in line to band each side in succession with a cross transfer conveyor that transfers the doors between the two banders.
The barcode scan pulls the correct veneer edgebanding form each six-coil edgeband feeder. If the program calls for two different kinds of wood on one door, the edgebander knows if it’s a right or left swing door so the first edgebander applies the first wood species and the other applies the second.
If the next door comes in with the opposite swing, then the first edgebander applies the second species and the second does the first.
Paul Bons, engineering manager
The machines are totally automated so all coil changes are made without the operator having to switch the veneer coil while the machine waits. Instead, the operator is checking for quality or preloading coils for upcoming veneer species not currently loaded on the machine.
Sorting it all out
With Eggers’ lean manufacturing process, every customer order, whether it be one door or 500 doors, is processed through the mill with ultimate process flexibility to meet the customer demand. “From a lean standpoint, everything is connected and has the flexibility to change in an instant to support customer orders.,” says Bons. “Eggers’ automated process is now connected from the edge strip assembly line to the press, through the trim saw and right through the edgebanding line. It’s all done on conveyors with no employees handling the doors. Both the edgebanding and trim saw ‘sort’ then route doors based on multiple factors as needed.”
Eggers expects to edgeband 80 percent of its doors. “There would be no way we could have nade this transition without a fully automated line,”says Jay Streu, president. “We continue to make doors for orders that may be as large as 500 or 1,000 doors, but we have many orders that are 10, 20 or 30 doors. Setup times are so crucial in the manufacturing process with custom work. This fully automated line gives us the ability to continue the custom work, while at the same time having short setup time.”
With the new system, bottlenecks are eliminated before they even begin. “Because we’re into lean manufacturing, it was absolutely critically that we get a highly automated edgebander that could change over quickly,”says Brian Hibbs, industrial engineer. “The veneer edge specie, bevel angle or even door size change over on the fly. The line us also extremely flexible. It can make doors form 4′x10′ all the way down to 6”x24”.”
The automated line’s efficiency results in considerable labor savings. Eggers currently has four trained operators-two on each shift. “As we continue to go forward here, employee training and involvement is very important,” says Hibbs. “The operators and maintenance staff have been and integral part of our successful startup. We even took a production employee with us to Germany, where the equipment was manufactured, so he could provide input on final adjustments as well as to learn how to run the more sophisticated technology. The people we have now are embracing it, but training must be a continuous process.”
PURs for quality
Even when edgebanding was used on only 17 percent of Eggers Industries’ doors in its Architectural Doors Division, the decision was made a number of years ago to switch EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) adhesives to PUR (Polyurethane) adhesives. “PURs come with a higher price tag, but we switched for quality reasons,” says Brian Hibbs, industrial engineer. “PUR adhesives are moisture-cured and react with the moisture in the veneer strips and the wood in the door we are bonding. That chemical reaction forms a much tighter bond and has much greater temperature resistance. That was huge for us. We didn’t want any quality issues, especially with a lifetime warranty on our doors.”
Now with its new fully automated edgebanding line, PUR adhesives continure to be used to ensure Eggers’ high standards of quality. “We had a Nordson system 5-gallon PUR melter with our old line, and were confident in our edge quality,” says Hibbs. “Being moisture cured, PURs require an enclosed and sealed system, along with the precise temperature controls.”
The new automated line also uses a Nordson PUR system, consisting of a 55-gal. Dual-amp VersaDrum bulk melter, two EB60V edgebanding applicators and an EPC 30 pattern control. “The dual pump configuration was a new option for the VersaDrum 55-gallon melter, and Nordson worked with us and Stiles to get the design changes accomplished for our line,” says Hibbs. “The system is working well with great consistency.”
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Brooke Baldwin Wisdom
www.modernwoodworking.com | August | 2009 | MW |