Julia Kasper

5 min reading time

Digital production: Simplify cutting with intelligent optimization

The clean integration of the interface between the machine and software into the workflow is still a challenge in some production areas.

In a joint webinar with Andreas Bronner, Managing Director of Bropack GmbH, and Arne Mömesheim, expert for digital cutting solutions at HOMAG, tapio gained practical insights into the production of heavy-duty crates, folding crates, and machine packaging. Participants were thus able to see what the workflow for cutting optimization looks like in practice at Bropack.

You can watch the entire webinar in form of a video on YouTube. The webinar was recorded in German language.

In this blog post, we have summarized the most important findings from the webinar in eight steps:

1) tapio ecosystem as a basis

In production, the machines, tools, and materials used originate from different manufacturers. This colorful reality can be digitally reproduced in the ecosystem by tapio because with tapio, machines, tools, materials, and services from different manufacturers work together digitally. For example, tapio ensures only one login for all digital solutions of the wood industry on tapio.

2) Cutting optimization as Software-as-a-Service, which communicates with the connected machine via the tapio ecosystem.

On tapio, one digital solution is the cutting optimization tool intelliDivide from HOMAG, which Arne Mömesheim presented in this webinar. intelliDivide follows the principle that there are no investment, update, or maintenance costs. The costs for users depending on individual usage and, thus, easy to calculate as a subscription every month. Moreover, the software is always up-to-date and can be used without great financial effort due to the low entry price.

Besides, the intelliDivide-user does not have to deal intensively with machine parameters, since this information is already available from connected machines via the tapio ecosystem. Thus, a simple import of the existing bill of material data into intelliDivide is sufficient. The optimized cutting plans can be transferred directly to the machine by a mouse click. Altogether, intelliDivide is based on networking within the tapio ecosystem.

Arne Mömesheim emphasizes that intelliDivide can be used independently of the respective hardware and operating system. The tool can be used on mobile devices with internet access on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS, ... at any time and any place.

3) Reduction of personnel and time expenditures

Arne Mömesheim reports from practice that users save around one to two hours a day. The automatically generated solution proposals eliminate the need for manual manipulation of results. With intelliDivide, the user can easily choose whether to optimize for waste, handling, or time.
The time savings are based on the fact that intelliDivide automatically presents several alternative solutions for cutting. Depending on the situation, the user can choose, for example, from a waste-oriented solution, a time-oriented solution, or a solution with little handling. Up to eight cutting alternatives are displayed in intelliDivide.

4) Optimize cutting at any location

Andreas Bronner explains how the production process looks like in his company: The managing director of the family business, established in 1863, reports that the machine capacity in production was no longer sufficient. As a result, Bropack had panels cut externally, which resulted in an enormous logistical effort and a loss of flexibility.

Without further ado, the Black Forest company decided to invest in a different machine, a HOMAG HPL 400. There was no more room at the leading site, so the new HOMAG machine was set up 5 km away. Next, Andreas Bronner was faced with the challenge of integrating this machine into the workflows and processes.

Andreas Bronner then came to intelliDivide via the machine purchase at HOMAG. In the webinar, he shows a drawing of one of his transport crates based on a house's statics. The transport crates are produced from batch size one up to 100. The flexibility that Andreas Bronner offers his customers must, therefore, also be demonstrated in production. The respective optimization method depends on the material used. For example, if a crate is made from a relatively inexpensive 9mm OSB, the Bropack team optimizes for reduced process time. Simultaneously, with more expensive materials, such as a 24mm silk-screen printing, waste is minimized as much as possible.

Andreas Bronner already uses intelliDivide when calculating the order. There, he determines how much material is needed for the respective crate.

5) Send cutting data directly to the machine

Once a box has been designed and optimized, the order is sent from the office directly to the machine 5 km away. The machine operator then has the job and list directly in front of him on the Power Touch display and can start cutting. At this point, Andreas Bronner emphasizes the significant time savings, since queries by the machine operator are hardly ever necessary anymore. All production-relevant data is available. The employee on-site at the machine plans the job himself and can start right away. The days of paperwork and long consultation loops are, therefore, history at Bropack.

Thanks to the link to the HOMAG machine, data no longer needs to be entered manually, which has significantly reduced the error rate and naturally saves a massive amount of time.

6) Simplifying and therefore improving production processes

Andreas Bronner emphasizes that Bropack has significantly gained in flexibility. In the past, short-term orders used to leave a massive cloud of dust in the company because urgent orders crashed through production, and current orders were canceled. With intelliDivide, this chaos is now prevented, since every employee knows when to do what. Short-term orders appear on the monitor and can be pushed in between the schedule. intelliDivide provides Bronner with the information on how long he needs for an order. This enables him to plan and to schedule short-term and urgent orders according to demand in-between.

The LED bar on the HOMAG machine, known as intelliGuide, shows the machine operator how to load the panel to be processed into the machine. The light strip is fed with information from intelliDivide and simplifies the work of the machine operator.

The label printer at the machine immediately prints out the matching label so that the machine operator can apply it to the cut parts and plates immediately. This allows an exact assignment to the job and the part of the job thoroughly and straightforwardly. Bropack then transports the cut plates from the secondary location to the primary location.

Bropack has decided to connect the HOMAG HPL 400 directly to the tapio MachineBoard (link to landing page). This enables the plant manager to see at any time on his smartphone what state the machine is in and how long the remaining time for each processing step is.

7) Production processes improved and cutting optimized

In Bropack's new work process, the calculation, work preparation, cutting, and flexible workflow, including independent scheduling, has thus been improved with the help of intelliDivide. Andreas Bronner states that he now saves about one hour a day, sometimes even two hours along the entire process chain. Due to the system's simplicity, the Bropack team was quickly convinced of the innovation, although the younger, technology-affine employees found it easier to adapt.

8) Questions & Conclusion

The participants were also interested in whether resource management of materials such as boards could be covered by intelliDivide. Arne Mömesheim refers to a separate tool, materialManager, which is used to create master data for boards, which can be used for intelliDivide. He reveals that HOMAG is currently working on inventory management and area storage connection.

One participant's conclusion in the feedback was,

"The topic was interesting, absolutely practice-oriented! Top!"

Andreas Bronner sums up,

"Anyone who does not use intelliDivide is wasting time and money!"

Arne Mömesheim recommends staying up to date when it comes to digitization, as the general development is rapid.

Many thanks for the exciting insights into cutting optimization to Andreas Bronner and Arne Mömesheim and our webinar participants!