Unlike the core values of kitchen manufacturer Starke Objekteinrichtungen, which have remained the same for more than 100 years, the company’s production processes have continuously evolved ensuring its key principles of high quality, solid products are achieved.

The German business recognised that in order to successfully economise its workflow of material and ensure that it can effectively handle planned projects throughout the year, it needed to interlink individual production points to create one ultimate automated manufacturing cell. The concept was good but the challenge remained as to how this could become reality.

Starke turned to Homag which has built up a wealth of experience in the field of automation and robotics. It soon became clear that what Starke understood to be a specialist requirement was actually part of Homag’s standard portfolio.

Christian Heißler, technology consultant of the Homag Group explains: “By using a robot cell, parts are automatically fed into the manufacturing line in accordance with production requirements. Alternatively the robot cell can also be used for storing workpieces in an intermediate buffer and then feeding them to numerous different individual processing stations as required.”

At Starke, workpieces are effortlessly transferred from its drilling machine and systematically logged within the robot storage cell. Whilst in the storage cell each part remains 100% accessible at any given time, increasing the overall flexibility in the manufacturing process. In addition to this, integrating a robot as the central driving element also develops a more clear and concise line of production for operators.

Each piece that is stored is individually registered and continuously tracked within the system and therefore can be immediately located when required. Panels are then transferred according to the selection of the operator and delivered to the next stage of production. At Starke, panels are methodically selected from the cell and automatically fed into a gluing station.

One key and common factor for consideration with any investment in machinery is the limitation of storage space. However, even though Starke’s Homag Automation sorting robot provides the manufacturer with 500 different compartments for panel storage, the facility requires less than four metres in working height. Robot sorting cells are the perfect concept to any batch size one manufacturer looking to gain maximum productivity whilst delivering maximum storage volume in the smallest of spaces.

By securing long term success through the means of robots and combining existing individual stages of manufacture, the Homag Automation robot sorting cell proved to be the perfect solution for Starke providing it with the key to optimum productivity and efficiency.

Simon Brooks, sales and marketing director of Homag UK expands: “A misguided consensus in the market is that automated systems are expensive and only for the bigger manufacturer, however, this is definitely not the case. Smaller businesses can easily benefit from automation. The advantages that automation can bring to a business in terms of added efficiency, cost savings, stock control and safety are potentially huge.

“Homag is able to provide expert advice and support for any potential investors that are looking to automate their production facilities. On top of this, Homag can offer flexible finance solutions to enable the investment cost to be spread over a suitable period of time.”