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Automated veneer handling – sheet by sheet

In the furniture and flooring industry, more and more veneers are being used, both for cost and weight reasons. Real wood veneers, cut from a tree trunk, continue to be used, especially for high-quality products. The Kuper company builds appropriate systems to sort and assemble the veneers into the desired stacks or to deliver them directly to production.

Raw, cut to size, or glued veneers are placed on a distribution table with ten double compartments. An employee in the production department places the veneers of the delivered bundles of sheets, package by package, on one side of the double compartment. When this is full, Piab’s Kenos KVG gripper starts lifting the sheets one by one from the respective stack. When the sheet is secured by vacuum, it is transferred to the pick-up unit of a second gripper, which mechanically clamps the sheet and pulls it into the system for sorting or loading. In the meantime, the employee can fill the other compartment, so that the individual veneer sheets can be automatically removed without interruption.

Mr. Manuel Duebeler, one of the system designers at Kuper, explains: “The big challenge for us was to find a gripper that was able to pick up only one sheet at a time, regardless of whether it is intact or split or has holes in it. Our first attempts failed, which is why it helped us enormously when one of our customers referred us to Piab because he had good experiences with veneer handling with their Kenos grippers.“

The veneer sheet is taken over by the pick-up unit of the second gripper

„The Kenos® KVG gripper from Piab that was chosen offers a high degree of flexibility and in particular allows the handling of products of different compactness. With the help of flow valves and a flow limitation, the integrated vacuum generation with Piab’s innovative multi-stage COAX® technology can be precisely adapted to the vacuum requirements. In this way, it was possible to exactly match the level of vacuum generation to the veneer sheets and to balance the performance needed for handling air-permeable sheets with the requirement of picking up just one sheet at a time, ”explains Hasan Simsek, responsible sales engineer at Piab, the reasons for the product selection.

In addition, the gripper was designed in such a way that there is an intermediate blowing over the entire length of the sheet when it is picked up, so that the veneer sheet is briefly in the air. This process also ensures that only one sheet is lifted per pick.

To ensure that Piab’s gripper met expectations, several tests were carried out in advance, first at Piab, then at a test facility at Kuper.

„The Kenos®KVG gripper from Piab convinced us on the one hand because it was the only one that was able to reliably and continuously pick up the sheets individually.

“The Kenos®KVG gripper from Piab convinced us on the one hand because it was the only one that was able to reliably and continuously pick up the sheets individually. With a working width of 330 mm and a total width of 350 mm, the gripper can pick up all veneers with a width of 230mm to 330mm. The gripper is positioned so that it only handles veneers from one compartment. When a compartment is empty, the entire magazine moves over to the other side and the gripper removes the veneers from the compartment that has been filled in the meantime, “continues Dübeler and adds,” the cooperation with Piab was also excellent. The gripper was adapted exactly to our needs, which also included the dimensioning of the length of 350 mm. ”

Piab’s Kenos vacuum grippers are also characterized by low downtimes during maintenance, since the technical foam that forms the surface can be replaced in a few minutes. With the online configurator, customers can quickly define a possible solution.

About Piab

Piab provides smart solutions for the automated world, helping thousands of end users and machine producers in e-commerce logistics, food, pharma, automotive and other manufacturing industries to improve energy-efficiency, productivity and working environments. With more than 700 employees and SEK 1,2 bn in sales 2018, Piab is a global organization, serving customers in almost 70 countries from a network of subsidiaries and distributors. By leveraging the ongoing technological development in automation and robotics, and targeting high-growth segments and geographies, Piab’s vision is to become the global leader in gripping and moving solutions.

About Kuper

KUPER is an international medium-sized group of companies. Around 150 employees work at the headquarters in Rietberg and at the branch in Freiburg / Breisgau. Kuper develops, produces and sells machines and systems for industry and the trades. In addition, Kuper offers a competent, holistic service, from operational planning to financing to a proactive after-sales service and training. With this combination, KUPER offers its customers exactly what they need for their sustainable business success.

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