Factory

Omega PLC has been recognised with a TTJ smart manufacturing award following its installation of two new smart saws and related technology in its 400,000 sq. ft plant as part of a £20m investment programme, which saw total production capacity increased to £125m.

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Omega partnered with Homag, one of the world’s leading woodworking machinery manufacturers to install the new smart fully automated store and saw system, as well as a new double-sided banding line.

Commenting on the award and new technology, CEO, Simon Barber said: “We were delighted to be recognised with leading companies in the UK and globally for our continued investment and installation of smart technology in our South Yorkshire plant. Omega has invested over £12.5 in leading-edge machinery and equipment in the last 2 years.

“Our investment in people, process and systems continues to differentiate Omega and we remain committed to the pursuit of quality and service allied to innovation.

Omega typically uses 3mx2m timber boards, which are stored in packs of 24 sheets. The kitchen manufacturer wanted to find a way to more efficiently handle and store boards while also minimising the risk of damage during the retrieval and processing of these. The manufacturer also wanted to improve efficiency by reducing any unnecessary downtime in feeding boards to the smart cutting saws.

Following a £1.7m investment, a new automated cutting system was installed at the plant. This included a Homag TLF 411 storage system, which linked seamlessly to an HKL 400 panel dividing saw and HPL 400 beam saw.

The smart system fully automated the storage, retrieval and handling of boards using robotic arms and reduced the reliance on manual handling. The system created 75 storage locations for timber boards which were then sorted into different stacks according to size and colour.

The installation of the HKL 400 panel dividing saw now handles bulk cutting jobs with exceptionally high precision, whilst the HPL 400 horizontal panel beam saw can handle smaller cutting jobs at fast speed to maintain a high level of throughput.

Omega also invested in smart MagiCut software, which seamlessly integrates with the saws to effortlessly calculate and control the cutting process. Omega technicians input panel requirements for orders and the software calculates the most cost-efficient use of panels and production method. Once the production method has been determined, the storage system then directly feeds the precise mix of panels required to the saws.

Simon added: “Our new Homag systems have brought a host of benefits to the plant including a greater level of flexibility in being able to feed and change boards during the production process, which has significantly reduced downtime. The robotic arms also securely but gently lift heavy boards to reduce damage and waste. By reducing damage and managing materials more efficiently, we have already reduced waste by 30%.

“However, the biggest benefit of the store and saw system is the increased production flexibility. The system has delivered a 20% gain in cutting efficiency per day and has enabled us to respond to market demands for product variety quickly.

Om Aerial

“In addition to increased capacity and reduced downtime, the new equipment has also improved the quality of finished products as well as enhancing our overall product offer.”

The TTJ Smart Manufacturing Awards recognise timber product companies globally that have completed the most successful investment projects in machinery and technology that have led to the most signiificant improvements in production efficiency.