When selecting your supplier of wooden products, you should look at the wood manufacturing processes it employs to understand if it will be able to create top-quality items.
If the entire production process is automated and controlled by sophisticated software and digital systems, you can expect the highest precision, quality, and consistency.
Let’s discuss this topic in the following article.
Why digitalization is important in wood manufacturing processes
Production of a wooden item consists of many different phases. Digitalizing them means making the entire process more accurate and efficient with great advantages in terms of:
- cost optimization
- reduction of lead time
- clients’ satisfaction
In this article, we will talk about the importance of digital systems in the different phases of wood manufacturing. You can click the link to read the corresponding paragraph.
- Accuracy & reliability
- Material preparation
- Quality control
- Our company
What makes wood manufacturing processes accurate and reliable?
To produce big lots of wooden products, one of the most significant difficulties is consistency. Ensuring precision and quality for each single product of each production lot is not possible if the manufacturer doesn’t have the right machinery and technologies as well as competency and a deep knowledge of wood.
Only a leading and well-structured wood manufacturing company can rely on:
- robots & industrial automation systems
- made-for-purpose machines
- sophisticated software
- technologically advanced tools
- dedicated production lines
- deep industry knowledge
to make wood manufacturing processes faster and more reliable. A supplier that invests a lot to get the newest technologies and systems demonstrate a culture of continuous innovation and the desire to make his company a smart factory, exploiting the power of Industry 4.0.
This process is boosted by the presence of talented employees, designers of mechatronic systems, and computer software engineers that cooperate to manage the digital production.
If the average age of workers is young, the company has invested in human resources and believes in the power of new ideas.
The co-design phase is crucial to combine:
- client’s requirements
- the characteristics of the wood essence
- the feasibility of the design solutions
- the machine availability
to create a product that is functional and aesthetically beautiful at the same time.
Either starting from a sketch, a physical sample, or a concept, your partner must be ready to cooperate with you providing consulting services, a design constraints analysis, an estimate of price, and a 3D design before moving on to production.
- Each wood essence has different structural limits and tolerances that must be considered during the design phase. The supplier should be able to select the right type of wood for each specific product
- Wooden blocks may have certain standard dimensions; to optimize the material, the supplier may suggest the right modification to fit the most convenient raw material available in the market.
- The manufacturer should be able to simulate even the most difficult drawing using the latest CAD-CAM software without disturbing the concept and the general feeling of the original project.
Only a competent wood maker with deep experience in solid wood processing can create top-quality products and give shape to the most complicated ideas.
Starting from the 3D model developed during the design phase, a competent supplier will be able to provide realistic prototypes of the final product, thanks to the most modern 3D printing techniques, additive technology, and fast prototyping.
In this way, you can predict possible problems and understand if slight modifications are required before moving to production, optimizing time and resources.
Besides this, you will have the opportunity to see and touch your product, feel the warmth and naturalness of wood, perceive the finishes, and appreciate its flexibility, structure, and materiality.
If the manufacturer creates exact representations of the final product, you will have a precise idea of it and its aesthetical, technical, and functional performance before production.
A reliable manufacturer should have a dating platform and an accurate production planning system fully automated, that let commercials:
- track the status of the order h24
- know precisely when the order will be processed
- advise clients immediately if some delays occur
In this way, you will know exactly when you will receive the products you ordered, being able to communicate the delivery date to your clients and guaranteeing an excellent customer experience.
Only a sophisticated production scheduling system can automatically date the order and communicate it to commercials, so that they can give precise information to clients, constantly updated.
To ensure this level of precision and reliability, you must choose a manufacturer that invests a lot in automation, interconnectivity, and machine learning to make the company fully connected.
To ensure top-quality products, it is essential that wood be carefully prepared, and the drying process is especially important. Your manufacturer should have in-house, state-of-the-art drying chambers that guarantee the ideal moisture content of the wooden log before production. It is essential to get a clean milling process, higher dimensional stability, and less probability of breakage.
Being able to perform the drying process internally rather than outsourcing is an essential advantage in quality and longevity of the final product.
Depending on the object, the moisture must be brought down to a given humidity level, usually from 8% to 12%; however, there are some exceptions where lower or higher moisture content is needed.
Each batch has its own features that must be considered before processing.
Most manufacturers use multipurpose production equipment to manufacture different types of products. A leading manufacturer can develop a dedicated production line for each specific item to meet clients’ requirements and ensure accuracy, brief lead time, and higher volume.
If the company you select has a competent planning department, they could monitor production at each stage, which is essential for accurate cost estimation during the pilot phase, comprehensive management of overall production lead time, and being able to react timely to any inconvenience that may occur.
A reliable wooden supplier takes care of the environment, too, and pays great attention to how it manages and reuses resources. One way is by reusing scraps to produce smaller wooden objects or fuel heating systems to make the production process more sustainable.
The finishing phase is one of the most important aspects of the wood manufacturing process.
Automatic systems, automatic painting systems, advanced laser finishing centers, as well as anthropomorphic laser robots—which can adapt to every shape with radial movements and different engraving depths—are essential to customize each object according to clients’ requests and create unique shapes and complex designs.
Some products have very complex shapes, and precise measurements can be very difficult. If made manually, the probability of error is very high.
3D laser technology and sophisticated metrology software are necessary to guarantee accurate and 100% reliable measurements: the wooden object is completely scanned with a laser gun; then, the metrology software creates a three-dimensional representation that must be compared with the original technical drawing to verify that nominal dimensions and tolerances are correct.
Finally, wooden products must undergo final quality control to check all the details and finishes, before being approved and shipped.
All wooden products should be individually checked with sophisticated automatic systems of infrared video cameras and tailor-made artificial intelligence algorithms. This can guarantee continuous monitoring of the process with data collection and analysis, providing real-time visualization and dedicated reporting compliant with Industry 4.0 regulations.
By following this procedure, you can ensure products that meet all customer specifications and expectations.
Digitalized quality control processes guarantee the highest accuracy.
Delivery is also an important aspect of the process. Each item should be automatically packed according to customer specifications in safe and clean warehouses to guarantee they are carefully stored.
Some manufacturers can also provide customizable private stocking solutions to guarantee just in time delivery from their plants.
Logistics should also be digitalized and integrated to improve supply chain processes and make them agile, ensuring an excellent customer experience.
Finding a supplier that invests a lot to get the latest digital systems, sophisticated software, and cutting-edge machines is not easy.
Since 1937, Minelli S.p.A. has ensured perfection in the quality and design of each product manufactured, relying on the experience of our employees, the most innovative tools, and consolidated wood manufacturing processes.
We use only the latest generation of customized and made-for-purpose CNC machines that provide consistent dimensional and finishing results even at a very high production volume.
Many of our machines are unique and custom-made.
Thanks to our own Manufacturing Execution System (MES), our company is fully connected, and we have recently implemented new 3D metrology technology that lets us guarantee maximum precision for each production lot.
We have production plants both in Europe and in the U.S., and we can provide customizable private stocking solutions to guarantee just in time delivery. It means we can manufacture your wooden components in advance and store them in secure and safe warehouses so that you can order from stock with virtually instantaneous delivery.
Moreover, our internal R&D department constantly observes the market to develop innovative finishing options according to market trends and customers’ preferences.
If you have a project in mind, don’t hesitate to contact us! Our experts will be glad to evaluate your plan and help shape your idea.