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The company manufactures “HPL” (High Pressure Laminate) sheets on hardboard plates for kitchen furniture. In one of the process steps, they handle “MDF” (Medium Density Fibreboard) slabs of wood immediately after treatment in a glue press. The boards differ in sizes, from 2000x1000 mm to 4100x1300 mm with a maximum weight of 130 kg. The company wants to increase the production capacity by automatic stacking, and at the same time eliminate the present needs to borrow personnel from other production areas during production capacity increases. However, the most important requirement is the caution in handling since the processed board is very valuable and the glue is still both warm and wet. Also, experience has shown that there is a risk that the suction cups could create air bubbles in the surface if the vacuum level is too high.
Piab suggested working with a low vacuum pressure (30 -kPa) and a great surface created by many small suction cups. Two circuits were created for security reasons; one circuit consists of four F50-2 suction cups, even for the smallest boards, and the other consists of 43 F50-2 cups with cone valves for the larger boards. Cone valves were used to improve flexibility without compromising safety. The lifting frame is split in two vacuum circuits that each functions as a vacuum tank in combination with M50L vacuum pumps equipped with energy saving systems. This means that in case the compressed air pressure would drop, there is still enough time to put the load down without any risk of losing the board that is handled.
The press output has been increased by at least 30%. Additionally, there is no longer a need to borrow personnel from other areas to assist in the unloading of the press, meaning that this personnel can be utilized for additional production capacity increases in other parts of the production process.