To improve their production yield and minimize operator errors resulting from the company’s manual cut-to-specification lumber production operation, Mountain Moulding required customized modifications to their chop saw process. The enhancements required the development of machine control software to optimize the cutting of each board for maximum production yield. This software needed to function with the chop saw’s existing programmable logic controller (PLC).
REAL Controls developed the optimization software using National Instrument’s LabVIEW product. Data acquired from an encoder and a Sick Optic photo-sensor provide board length and defect location information for analysis by the software. The software evaluates each board against a configurable cut list for the order to be filled. The software automatically determines the optimal cut pattern for the board and transmits this information to the PLC. The PLC coordinates the positioning of the board at the chop saw and activates the saw to produce the cuts. The software also records production statistics including the total board length processed, the production yield, scrap produced and the amount of each board length produced.
The machine enhancements solved four issues with the customer’s chop saw operation:
- Production yield has been significantly increased.
- Completed orders contain on average, longer length boards, which are preferred by furniture manufacturers.
- Scrap is automatically cut into small pieces, which are easier to handle by shop personnel.
- Production statistics, which had been manually calculated, are now automatically recorded for each lumber order.