There are a lot of buzzwords associated with new advances in woodworking manufacturing. People talk about cutting edge, automation, new technology, Indus- try 4.0, and the smart factory. But what does it all mean? In this issue of FDMC, we try to put a face on the
latest developments in woodworking manufacturing by taking you
inside plants that have embraced
this new technology.
Take, for example, Crystal
Cabinet Works in Minnesota.
They wanted to be able to constantly
rearrange their production machinery as part of
continuous improvement initiatives, but antiquated
dust collection kept the machines in one place. Enter
a new system that brings computer-controlled, plug-and-play connections to full-size manufacturing-level
dust collection. Now they can relocate machinery
to achieve maximum efficiency without fighting logistics battles with old dust collection piping, and they
even saved big on energy in the process.
Similarly, Crystal and many other plants today
want to meet customer demands for a wider variety of
panel products without sacrificing efficient production. Companies like Biesse and Homag have developed sophisticated panel supply systems that address
that need. Crystal went with the Biesse Winstore, and
another company profiled in this issue, Goebel, also
in Minnesota, chose the Homag Intellistore. You can
read about both.
Perhaps the most eye-opening smart factory story
in this issue comes from Muskoka Cabinet Company
in Canada. With a production
staff of only about 25 workers,
the company has pioneered
extensive use of robotics, RFID
tags for tracking parts, and even
automated guided vehicles to
move parts around the plant, so
employees can do more skilled
work than pushing parts carts.
With technology improving
What is a smart factory?
and evolving daily, it certainly is
hard to keep up with it all. But
it clearly presents huge oppor-
today’s woodworking manu-
facturers no matter the size of
their operation. They just need a
willingness to embrace change. ;
by William Sampson
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Are we turning the tide on
We attended the recent open
house at the MiLL national training center and saw many of
the woodworking industry’s top
names represented in the form of the latest
Industry has partnered with education to
create this new training center. The Colorado
Springs location will provide technical training
for students, industry professionals and teachers.
We’ve followed this story closely over the
past few years, and will continue to do so.
We’ll have a complete report including interviews with the people who have established
this training center, industry supporters and
students themselves in the December FDMC.
Are there other training
success stories out there? If
you know of a similar story,
let me know at karl.forth@
by Karl D. Forth
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