For Sangiacomo, producing quality furniture for fifty years, Scm has designed an integrated cell system for the production of high-end furniture. This effective collaboration is generating new ideas, including an integrated logistic plan to create an increasingly connected and automated production flow, according to a real “Smart Factory 4.0” concept.
Future furniture will not be different from the past. There will be no change in the emotion, warmth and comfort that a kitchen, a living room or a bedroom must convey to a house, to our home. What is changing, and quickly, is what surrounds the furniture: functionality and most of all a new set of technological features offering improved comfort and multimedia capabilities. Also the “methods”, the selection criteria are changing, as people are demand increasing customization, furniture tailored to specific needs… and purchase and delivery cycle time is speeding up, a tougher and tougher challenge for those who don’t make series furniture, as they have to handle (today more than ever) highly diversified batches in terms of colors, shapes, dimensions, finishing, design…
Sangiacomo, operating for more than half a century in the heart of North Eastern Italy, is a model of the ability to face such challenges successfully, to be competitive leaders on the international markets. Technological innovation has always driven the Piovesana family since 1968, guiding a business with over 400 employees and a solid outsourcing network in the Alto Livenza district, comprised of some one thousand indirect collaborators.
QUALITY, DESIGN, CUSTOMIZATION
The “passwords” of this manufacturer of complete furnishing solutions for the home and contract segments are very clear: a design and manufacturing process that develops day after day, with a clear vision into the future, in a modern factory in Pasiano di Pordenone, with a surface of more than 50 thousand square meters. “Our production includes furniture for kitchens (branded Meson’s Cucine), living room, bedroom and wardrobes. Especially the latter are a very important business for us, not only for the wide selection of hinged and sliding doors, flush doors and walk-in closets, but also for the constant search for the visual and functional quality of products and the accurate selection of materials. Quality aimed at long-term comfort, which implies – for instance – the easy relocation of a production to a different house or room without compromising its sturdiness”, according to Loris Piovesana, Chief Innovation Officer of Sangiacomo Group. The wonderful showroom where he hosted us immediately gives an idea of the huge variety of products, the care for details, the focus on “good design” that characterizes all the rooms, from kitchens to bedrooms to living rooms.
“Accurate search for the visual and functional quality of products, starting from accurate material selection, is necessary to meet the requirements of a more and more complex market,” Piovesana said. “Another requirement is to integrate all the products into a range that offers a complete and integrated furnishing system, customizable to the needs of each customer, with an eye to their economic budget, without compromising on quality standards, which are always guaranteed“.
BOLDNESS AND INNOVATION
In view of these demands, Sangiacomo has renewed its processes significantly over the years, adapting a part of production to smaller batches and investing in high technology to streamline and improve the control of logistics.
In this process of deep and continuous innovation, the collaboration with Scm has been instrumental to deploy an engineering project that meets three primary goals: increase production efficiency also for flexible “batch one” operations; further improve product quality; and implement a next-generation production system, interconnected and integrated, that ensures a rapid and continuous flow. All of this has been achieved with two highly automated and complementary plants: a cut-to-size cell (consisting of an angular saw “gabbiani a3” equipped with a “mahros stacker” unloading system – with up to 2,000 pieces per shift capacity in “batch one” mode, labeled one by one, combined with a squaring-edgebanding line operating at 3,500 cycles per shift, comprised of a “mahros brush” automatic loading and unloading system and a “stefani sb” squaring-edgebanding machine.
The cell offers all the capabilities of the angular saw “gabbiani a3”, including the “FlexCut” device that can execute complex cutting patterns in short time, but it stands out mostly for its high automation level. At the inlet, large quantities of materials can be stacked on a roller conveyor with pushing bar, which feeds the panels to the first labeling stage. Barcode label printing and application are performed automatically and in hidden time: the material, waiting to be loaded into the machine, is labeled, and the pushing bar transfers it to the worktable at the end of the printing process.
The longitudinal cutting station is combined with a highly flexible cross-cutting station, which can execute up to three cuts with different measures in one pass, versus two normally executed with this type of plants.
At the outlet, there is an automatic unloading and stacking system “mahros”, comprised of six stations: all the heavier materials, such as bigger batches, are transferred to the “stacker” bridge, while the “batch one” panel stacks are handled by a manual sorting system. Loading and sorting are executed with no interruption, thanks to a supervisory system that sends all the necessary information to stack different panels in regular piles for downstream operations on the squaring-edgebanding machine.
“Flexibility was essential for us – Loris Piovesana said – and the features of “FlexCut” enable us to work both in “Mts” (“Make to Stock”)” and in “Mto” (“Make to Order”) mode. We are also using the cell to handle the parts that are damaged during the production process (very few, indeed), we call it “restoring”. There are more features we really appreciate, such as the preparation of stacks, i.e. using “FlexCut” to cut mixed stacks and handle all the logistic operations that this cell can manage“.
“MASS CUSTOMIZATION” IN EDGEBANDING
The core of the new line is the two-sided squaring-edgebanding machine “stefani sb”, reliable and efficient, equipped with a high-speed “shoulder opening” system (up to 10 meters per minute), an edge roll magazine with 24 stations, continuous mode operation with two different types or colors of glue, a dual rounding unit with interpolated axes for high-speed machining and different materials (including wood), and a “Multiedge” system for immediate tool setup.
Logistic operations are optimized at the inlet, with a dual-station plant for automatic loading “mahros brush“, very flexible and fast, controlled by a supervisory system. At the outlet, another automatic unloading system “mahros brush” with dual station offers maximum flexibility.
Loading and unloading can also be performed manually in case of specific or urgent needs.
Piovesana commented: “With this line, we have been able to increase productivity and achieve better results also in terms of quality/price ratio.” The workflow is continuous, requiring no setup to adapt the plant to the specifications of the panel (dimensions, shape, color, edge thickness etc.). All parameters are adjusted in hidden time, so the flow can keep running at high speed (up to 3,500 cycles per shift, as mentioned before, a portion of which are “batch 1”).
Another benefit appreciated by Sangiacomo is the possibility to achieve improved finishing combined with higher flexibility in the production of semifinished materials. “Next-generation melamine-faced materials, for instance – Piovesana added – are no longer basic low-price materials, it’s textured material with finishing decorations, with some design, and it has a specific market niche that keeps growing. This is why we are using this squaring-edgebanding machine to produce not only semifinished materials that required further machining cycles downstream, but also real finished products.“
“From the start, Scm has listened to our needs – Loris Piovesana concluded – and has managed to deliver exactly what we were looking for, with an investment that matched our expectations. Furthermore, our company works in two or three shifts to meet seasonal peaks, so we constantly need a contact person who can give us immediate feedback via web, in case of urgent matters.
In these lines, we have described only a part of the big project Sangiacomo and Scm are working on together: a plan to deploy next-generation integrated logistics inside the factory. We cannot add more right now, but we know that the vision, creativity, passion and entrepreneurial skills of Sangiacomo will keep driving and inspiring future engineering projects signed by Scm.