Biesse at Ligna 2019 – a special edition for the company’s 50th anniversary welcoming 90,000 visitors from 100 countries.

Biesse’ impressive 6000 sq m stand earned the appreciation of both customers and partners, a gratifying response to the company’s investment in increasingly efficient services and innovative products.

Demonstrating automation and digital interconnection, Biesse presented 49 technologies in action, three fully-automated process solutions and 50 years of technological innovation all aimed at manufacturers from large-scale businesses with significant production volumes and those looking for flexibility through to smaller firms looking to increase efficiency and transform into real smart factories. 

Automation included seven Robotically Operated Systems (ROS) serving sizing, drilling, sanding and CNC machines. Overall, Biesse technologies were the undisputed stars of the stand, and marked a year full of exciting new developments. 

At the heart of the stand – and the central theme for the show –was the Digital Hub that guided customers on a journey through the phases of an Industry 4.0 factory, demonstrating data collection and distribution for simulating processes, production planning, optimisation and programming, all the way through to machine and service information delivered via the Sophia service platform.

The Sophia platform supports increased productivity by providing users with access to machine information, helping to optimise performance and monitor quality. 

It can also anticipate potential faults and provide solutions to resolve any anomalies. In addition, Biesse can also take proactive steps to contact customers, helping to reduce machine stoppages, increasing machine availability and output.

Thus, the combination of automation and digitalisation can provide real value to customers by helping to improve Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE), the measure of how well a machine works.

“Intelligent systems are connecting the world,” comments Robbie O’Neill, UK commercial director. “This allows businesses to adapt more quickly. It is about improving machine availability, performance and quality via physical automation or connected facilities. This means a leaner process is required if you want to compete, let alone just protect your business.

“Biesse can help customers transform their operations and help them to achieve greater efficiency and therefore derive better value from their machines.”

Steve Bulmer, CEO Biesse Group UK, adds: “We showed how we partner with customers, robotics suppliers and integrators to make factories smarter and more efficient, which allows both employees to add greater value to production processes and companies achieve improved results.”

To demonstrate this beyond just representations, Biesse built actual factories within its stand, focusing on the core areas of ‘size, edge and drill’, showing what the future should look like for automated, flexible and linked production and the results that can be achieved.

The first smart factory on display was a Batch One solution that demonstrated sequential processing, panel by panel, irrespective of size. The line comprised a number of different machines, all linked and communicating with each other to create a supervised system.

Production began by feeding a full sheet of material via a Winstore board storage and retrieval system into a NextStep sizing machine. Each single panel produced was then fed into a buffer system. This allowed the sizing operation to continue without causing bottlenecks, with panels then being fed into a Winner handling system that facilitated automated looped panel return. 

This fed a Stream B MDS edgebander that squared and sized each panel with finished panels being sent to a vertical buffer system, again to avoid stoppage of the edgebanding process.

Completed panels were unloaded, sorted and stored using a robot to create cabinet sets ready for on-demand production. These were then then fed into an Insider M, specified to drill on six faces. Finished panels would then be passed to assembly or packing in the order required, creating a just-in-time, batch one, lean production process.

While utopia is a batch one solution, most modern factories endeavour to have an efficient low batch factory with the ability to handle high complexity. Because of this, Biesse decided to also display a low batch factory. In addition to the facilities of the batch one factory, the low batch factory created complex shaped and edged panels in addition to standard square/rectangular edged panels.

Production began by feeding a full sheet of material via a Winstore board storage and retrieval system, with output split to a Selco WN 6 ROS flexible panel-sizing centre and Rover B FT twin-headed nesting router. Both included integrated robots for automated unloading

This showed a variety of offloading solutions that included horizontal and vertical stacking plus sorting to demonstrate reduced machine idle times and improved machine utilisation as well as how to minimise the risk of panel damage that is often caused by manual handling.

The panels produced were then marshalled to the edgebanding solution which combined a Stream B MDS edgbander that squared and sized each panel with a Winner semi-automated looped handling system that incorporated manual loading.

There is a wide variety of drilling and machining solutions available from Biesse but it chose to demonstrate the most complex – a shaped, edged and drilled panel, using a Rover B Edge that was loaded and unloaded autonomously by a robot.

Overall, the low batch factory demonstrated that individual processes can be automated without the need to create a fully linked and supervised line.

There was also a number of automated stand-alone machines.

The Opera R2 ROS robotic sanding machine not only demonstrated high quality precision finishing with two delta robots but also included two articulated robots feeding and offloading finished panels, showing a fully automated sanding line.

A Rover S FT flat table machining centre was combined with a Winstore X3, a new panel management system, that demonstrated how an automated magazine can be integrated into nesting and/or sizing cells, including retrofit options for existing production lines. 

The X3 delivers reduced production times thanks to the close proximity of panels. Therefore it is possible to substantially increase cell productivity compared to manual loading methods.

Lastly, the Brema EKO 2.2 vertical processing centre, which has been updated with a new dowel insertion unit that provides customers with completed panels, was paired with a robot to show how assembly times can be reduced.

“By establishing a perfect understanding with robots and machines, we, as human beings, can take advantage of one of the leading trends in the market – namely, robotisation – in order to improve business. Indeed, in the era of automation, technological innovations enable us to create new business models based on automated and interconnected production,” explains Federico Broccoli, wood division sales & subsidiaries division director.

Biesse also debuted a number of new machines and technologies.

The new Akron 1100 range of compact single-sided edgebanders is ideal for small-scale producers who want to modernise production. Within its price range, the Akron 1100 is the only technology on the market offering high-level components like the ROTAX motors made by HSD – the leading manufacturer in its sector. 

There are three configurations offering choices on trimming, corner rounding and premilling. This entry-level range stands out in the market for its high specification, quality and performance, standards that are shared by all Biesse products. 

A new option on VIET Opera 5 and 7 sanders was also announced. The new X-Spin Plus spinbrush unit offers an easier and faster ‘snail lock’ locking system. This system removes the need for a chuck that facilitates faster changeovers. Performance has also been increased with more power that offers a higher cup speed and an electric oscillating system, both of which greatly improves quality and accuracy.

A new edging system on Rover A Edge 12/15 machining centres gives customers the ability to shape and edge larger panels, maximising the available working area. In addition customers have the option to choose Ray Force, a zero glue edgebanding system that delivers the same standard edge finish on shaped panels as Air Force linear edgebanders. The new system also offers front tape loading, providing quicker changeovers.

OEE improvements are not always rooted in automation and digitalisation. Machine maintenance, set-up and breakdowns are some of the major contributors to poor OEE. A well-trained workforce can therefore help to minimise these risks and in turn enable manufacturers to become more autonomous.

The new Biesse Academy for Service is a training centre that customers’ operators and maintenance workers can visit to help increase skills and knowledge. Located in the Services Centre in Pesaro, it offers classrooms and laboratories as well as, most importantly, Biesse machines which technicians can use for their theoretical and practical training. 

“It was great to see so many visitors from the UK and have lots of positive conversations. This demonstrates that whether it be via large scale automation, stand-alone machines, services or training, we have the ability to help companies of all sizes become more efficient and productive. Our customers recognised this value and made significant investments at the show,” concludes Steve Bulmer.