With more than 25 years of experience in the woodworking sector, and as one of the most innovative companies in this field, Zimmer Group now offers a comprehensive combination of sophisticated individual components, modular end-of-arm products, and complete turnkey systems capable of producing a wide range of woodworking and furniture products.

Zimmer Group’s Turnkey Solution Incorporates Multiple Technologies & Processes

These innovative technologies, combined with Zimmer Group’s extensive experience make it possible for the company to design and build sophisticated fully automated production systems tailored to suit the particular requirements of the customer.

Zimmer Group’s turnkey systems incorporate multiple robotic handling, machining, and processing modules, including drill gears with fixed and extendable spindles, multifunctional units, project-specific designed modules, together with numerous attachment options to deliver the greatest possible flexibility.

The Modular Transport System is at the heart of the Turnkey Solutions by The Zimmer Group

Zimmer Group’s Modular Transport System (MTS) is at the heart of the solution and offers free positioning throughout the re-circulating concept of the system. Delivering high positioning accuracy of ±0.05mm, there can be almost any number of shuttles present within the circulation system. These can also be dynamically configured as groups with flexible control of all shuttles either as a master or slave.

Thanks to its modularity, flexibility and scalability, the system can be used either as a transport system or a handling system. The transport modules take care of workpiece transfer between stations, with the speed of each individual shuttle or shuttle group capable of being set individually.

Left to Right: drill gears with fixed spindles, extendable spindles, multifunctional unit, and modular transport module

he independently controlled transport units can be used as masters or slaves, depending on the requirements of the customers' Manufacturing Execution System. The capability to operate separately or in tandem eliminates the limitations of transportation by a continuous conveyor belt. When combined with the range of machining and processing modules available, the result is a highly productive and flexible solution for the manufacture of furniture and kitchen products etc. which is capable of batch size of one production.

In the example of the turnkey system referenced here, multiple products are automatically presented to the system by Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV). With the AGV docked within the system, a robot is used to de-palletise products one at a time and load them to the system for processing. The products are initially placed to an orientation/datum fixture before being loaded to the MTS which moves the product between the various processing stages. Products are positioned accurately at each of the different workstations, where robots – fitted with the appropriate end-of-arm tooling modules – drill, machine, or assemble the appropriate features required for that product.

Motor spindles that have been developed in-house, provide maximum smooth operation and longevity

The different product handling units are built upon Zimmer Group’s standard and reliable grippers with customised gripper fingers, ensuring long-term durability and system availability. State-of-the-art machining technology, thanks to motor spindles that have been developed in-house, provides maximum smooth operation and longevity, providing optimal levels of system uptime and availability. With typical products requiring to be processed and machined on both sides, once the parts have completed their first pass through the system, a robot loads them to an AGV which will then return them to the input side of the system.

Here, they will once again be picked from the AGV by robot and re-loaded to the Modular Transport System to allow secondary processing operations to be performed on the other faces/sides of the product. On completion of these final machining or assembly operations, the products are placed to an output conveyor for packaging.

Turnkey systems have been installed for manufacturers in the woodworking sector who are now benefiting from the flexibility and productivity these systems deliver

Another example of Zimmer Group innovation is virtualZ, the digital twin which revolutionises the processes performed throughout the life cycle of a system. In the design phase, virtualZ provides support in testing the system functionality and capacity based on a model-in-the-loop simulation by providing module and component models for the digital twin.

In the development and commissioning phases, virtualZ offers comprehensive options for simulations from the software-in-the-loop simulation to the hardware-in-the-loop real-time simulation.

In the operational phase of the system, the digital twin virtualZ can operate as a digital shadow in a virtual space with a time delay from the real system to perform optimisations and validations via test runs in the virtual world. The digital shadow can interpolate wear in advance or display notes on the causes of this wear using comparison data.

The Zimmer Group has installed a number of fully automated turnkey systems for manufacturers within the woodworking sector, who are now benefiting from the flexibility and productivity these systems deliver.