Equipment Programmed to Boost Production
Material Handling equipment automates the production line to minimise human intervention. Instead of people working to load and unload timber into the machines, this equipment is programmed to do it in a consistent and efficient way; boosting production output.
Limitations of Manual Handling
People cannot continuously remain 100% productive. Throughout the day they fatigue, especially in a labour-intensive job like loading timber into a machine, and throughput naturally decreases. As a result of this, manual loading can, at most, only achieve 65% of the machine’s potential uptime. You can overcome this fatigue by rotating staff, but the challenge is having enough trained staff to rotate. Given the serious shortage of skilled workers within the Timber Industry at the moment, achieving this is next to impossible.
Benefits of Material Handling
Increased Machine Output at the Same Feed Speed
Compared to manual handling’s 60-65% output capacity, Material Handling can be expected to achieve 80-85% every day. This 20% increase in production is not the result of increased feed speed, but more consistent timber throughput. Something as simple as an infeed to a Moulder or a connection point from a Moulder to an Optimising Docker could be expected to see this level of increased capacity.
Reliable and Ready to Perform
One of the greatest benefits of this technology is it is repeatable and not operator reliant. Output quality is consistent with the machine’s programming, and is not dependent on the skill level of operators. Equipment can also be programmed to match machine speeds, introducing the possibility of scalable feed rates to the line. Additionally, buffers can be added to achieve variable length timber; taking up the slack between long and short boards so there is always a board ready to go through the machine.
Reduce Product Downgrade
With the cost of timber greater than ever before, it is too expensive to make mistakes in grading. By offloading management of timber movement to Material Handling, operators have more time to grade boards and, more importantly, select the right face up side. Especially when producing products like Cladding or Secret Nail, taking the time to choose the correct face up side is imperative to getting the greatest value from each board; and introducing handling technology creates an opportunity for this to happen.
Workplace Health and Safety
The fourth consideration for the integration of handling equipment is the benefits to the health, safety and working environment of operators. The repetitive twisting and bending required when manually loading machines, can cause significant physical strain for operators. Material handling supplements this issue by creating a consistent working height; using scissor lifts to raise timber packs to the height of the line for easier grading and simplified movement. By bringing timber to a safe working height, this equipment can make a significant difference to employees’ operating environment and overall wellbeing.
Feeding the Future of Timber
The significant increase in high quality timber that is able to be produced, reliability and benefits to the working life of staff, make the inclusion of handling equipment in any operation something worth seriously considering. The future of the Timber Industry is a bright one, driven by technology and built by people, and embracing new developments as an advantage will see Australia and New Zealand continue to be world leaders in timber.
Watch Material Handling in action.