¦ A cost-effective version of Weinig’s Conturex is attracting many UK orders.
¦ SCM’s Dogma has increased the speed of tenoning operations.
¦ Biesse’s Green Project aims to make more sustainable machines.
¦ Homag Finance is offering options for people interested in its Venture machines.

When conditions change in the economy, so can the requirements for woodworking companies using machinery.

Since the economic crisis struck across the world, wood product companies and machinery makers have been rethinking the way they do things to stay lean, become more productive and open up new opportunities.

Activity in the area of window production is currently a highlight, and for joinery manufacturers it is good news, as the machine makers seek to meet their needs with solutions which feature high-end technology, but at more competitive prices.

A good example is Weinig’s Conturex processing centre which was developed as an all-in-one complete flexible machining centre which can switch from windows to doors and conservatories.

Its capability obviously meant a high price tag and no original Conturex machines had been sold in the UK, so Weinig decided to offer new versions of the technology at a lower price.

“We knew we had to make the Conturex more affordable,” said Weinig sales manager Malcolm Cuthbertson.

The Conturex 114-226 window line is an open solution. “You can make anything on it subject to the physical parameters. One day you can be making windows and then doors the next.”

He said the machine was now better tailored to window production due to a greatly improved extraction system and the addition of a universal spindle, which means customers don’t have to pay for all the associated aggregrates.

The machines are about 20% cheaper than the original Conturex, a move which has helped attract four orders in the last few months from companies including Input Joinery in Andover, Hall & Pawse Joinery in Aberdeen and WR Tooth in Coventry, all predominantly using the technology to make windows and doors.

“It’s revolutionised the way they make windows bringing a large reduction in manpower and a large increase in flexibility,” said Mr Cuthbertson.

“We are now getting a fair volume of orders across the group. If you gave me a cheque today you wouldn’t get the machine until next March.”

SCM has also been active in the window production sector and, to keep ahead in a competitive market, it has introduced the Dogma, which it says is capable of processing up to 30 windows, each with 12 elements, per working shift.

It is aimed at small- and medium-sized manufacturers who want to manufacture high quality window and door products but have a limited floor space. It’s a way for companies to supply high class joinery products with a minimal investment.

Saving manpower

“The reason behind it is to save manpower and to be able to respond quickly to the changing market,” said Colin Simmons, SCM UK’s solid wood manager.

“It’s all about flexibility these days. Every customer wants to be able to react to an order for windows for a complete house and they may involve windows of the same style but in different sizes.

“The cost of machinery has come down to a certain extent and the new machines are more cost-efficient and better value for money, as well as being much easier to use. Everything is PC-driven now. You have people that operate these machines who are no longer joiners.”

The Dogma is the replacement for the Windor 1, with one of the main changes being the addition of a CNC router for machining lock holes and dowels. The new drilling and routing machining head, Optima 1, for all complementary machining when tenoning, enables the component to exit the machine ready for assembly. It’s used for the machining of holes for the handle, tilted and turned sashes, glazing bead cutting-off, hinge grooving, right/left drilling at the head of the work pieces and also lengthwise.

A lower horizontal spindle is available for processing underneath the work-piece, for example, when machining grooves or channels.

The new features include completely automatic tenoning processing with the execution of mitred tenons with single and double inclination by interpolation. This is carried out by using a central work-piece clamping system. The tenoning carriage is anchored to a machine bed using prismatic guideways.

Launched at Xylexpo in Milan, a Dogma will be delivered to SCM’s showroom in Nottingham in the next two to three weeks.

Biesse is also seeking to up the ante in window production. At the Technodomus fair it launched the Rover B WMS to complete its WINLINE range. The entry-level working centre gives companies the abilities of high-end machines – basically the ability to produce any type of standard and special window and door fitting. Integrated software management means automatic loading and unloading, allowing independent operations without supervision for up to half an hour.

Biesse’s Rover A 4.55 CNC machining centre also proved popular at the company’s recent One2One event at Biesse Group UK in Daventry.

The Rover features an electronic positioning system, which allows the entire working area to be reconfigured automatically in less than 30 seconds.

It positions the panel supports and carriages using independent drives. Positioning of panel supports and carriages within an area is carried out in masked time, while the machine is working in the opposite area.

Biesse has also launched its “Green Project”, which sees the company position itself as an eco-technological company, with a core aim of finding highly technological solutions to reduce energy consumption, have a positive effect on the environment and provide client savings.

“We started with some of the latest generation Biesse machines which meet these standards,” said Biesse communications manager Lara Maggiore. “They cause less pollution through optimisation of the work processes and lower CO2 emissions, one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect.

“The results of the efforts made are very encouraging: a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of up to 30 tonnes per year and energy cost savings of up to €5,000 per year,” she said.

Environmentally-friendly technology in use includes automatic stand-by so the machine switches off when not required, continuous monitoring of energy consumption, recovery of energy from the electro-spindle motor and reconversion into electricity, efficient vacuum generation and suction optimisation.

Biesse has set up collaborations with Beckhoff and Bosch Rexroth, resulting in the creation of the B-cubed range of motors that are low on energy consumption but are highly efficient.

The project is just beginning. In 2010-2011, Biesse plans to launch 22 new products for woodworking. “Today’s technology must incorporate a deep awareness of environmental concerns,” Biesse said.

Golden anniversary updates

Meanwhile, Homag has updated its Venture 4 range of machinery as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

The Homag Venture 4L has an increased length of 4250mm, up from the 3250mm of the Venture 4, to provide greater flexibility in production.

The mid-range CNC machining centre also features an LED positioning system to provide accurate and fast positioning of work pieces on the table. In standard specification the Venture 4 has six consoles with 18 vacuum cups and uses the ‘K-table’ tubeless vacuum clamping system.

Like the Venture 12, the 4 has a high-speed drilling head with a 16hp (12kW) HSK routing spindle; the Venture 4, however, includes 19 vertical and six horizontal drilling spindles. The machine has the patented quick-change system for the spindles and the patented system for drilling depth with any materials.

It features two CNC-controlled Z-axes, a 360O C-axis and a high-speed grooving saw. It also has a 14-fold tool changing system with a tool pick-up station and includes an interface for the versatile Flex5+ drilling/routing/ sawing unit as standard.

“The software bundle that comes with the Venture 4 includes the woodWOP and woodDesign packages that deliver maximum productivity with ease of operation,” said Homag UK’s Simon Brooks.

With cash flow critical to any business, Homag Finance is offering a range of finance options to help businesses.