Accurate measurement of timber profiles and furniture products during processing on a conveyor has significant challenges. Precise dimensions are, however, essential for production control and quality inspection, otherwise there may be too much giveaway and waste during manufacture, as well as unnecessary customer returns.

Conventionally, wood and furniture processors may have used measuring wheels to dimension products such as wooden panels, windows, or doors, for example. However, any method in contact with the material can lead to marks and blemishes on the end product. As an alternative measurement may be done indirectly, e.g., via a rotary encoder that tracks the conveyor speed. Both methods are vulnerable to slippage, which can lead to inaccurate results.

Non-contact laser sensor

The new SPEETEC® laser surface motion sensor offers a highly accurate, non-contact alternative down to a resolution of 4 µm. Capable of being used for both speed and length measurement, the compact, affordable, eye-safe device is manufactured by SICK, a leading global manufacturer of sensors for factory automation. 

The Speetec® can be used in the cut-to-length process to ensure precision in a wide range of wood and timber processing for furniture manufacture or building products. It can also verify, for example, that wooden profiles are of the correct length before adding value by lamination, sanding, painting or assembly of sub-assemblies or final products.

SICK reports that, typically, Return on Investment can be achieved in under 12 months due to the increased precision which can improve yields by reducing giveaway on cut-to-length products. 

“The performance and affordability of the SICK SPEETEC® will come as a surprise to many,” says Darren Pratt, SICK’s UK product manager for motion control sensors. “It offers an opportunity to automate in-line measurement processes for process control, quality checking, or cutting at levels of speed and accuracy that would not have been possible previously.

Accurate and mark-free

“There is no danger of marking or damaging the substrate and no need for any marks or scales on the material itself,” continues Darren. “What’s more, unlike a measuring wheel which can deform over time due to abrasion with the material surface, the SPEETEC®’s measurement function cannot be impaired by wear, so maintenance and downtime are reduced.

“It therefore offers many opportunities for automation in the wood and furniture processing where accuracy is critical, for example in the manufacture of furniture such as fitted kitchens and bathrooms or building products such as wooden doors and windows.”

The SICK SPEETEC® offers new levels of affordability for a precision surface measurement device. It uses the Laser Doppler principle to work at speeds up to 10 m/s to measure directly on the material with an accuracy of 0.1% and a repeatability of 0.05%. The Class 1 eye-safe infra-red laser light eliminates the need for special guarding or safety measures required by many conventional velocimeters.

Darren Pratt is offering 30-minute one-to-one online presentations and demonstrations to anyone who would like to discuss whether the SPEETEC® is right for their application.