Energy-efficient drilling in furniture production

Innovation project: Self-optimizing drive for drilling wooden parts

The manufacture of parts for furniture production is automated. Holes in wooden parts are currently drilled using woodworking tools with drill heads that consist of several drive shafts called drill spindles. Until now, these have been inflexible, maintenance-heavy and high in energy consumption. This is because all drill spindles are always driven simultaneously, even if a drilling process requires only certain individual spindles. They must also be constantly readjusted for different parts. The drilling process therefore reduces the productivity of the entire manufacturing process. In order to increase quality and efficiency, drilling processes must be made more intelligent and flexible. This means that the spindles must be able to automatically adapt to the part in question and be driven individually.

The aim of the research project is to provide the furniture production industry with self-optimizing, intelligent drives developed so that every single drill spindle can be used individually and adapted to the wooden part that is being processed.

To that end, the drilling applications in existing woodworking machinery are analyzed with regard to important process parameters such as tool geometry, rpm, speed, material, drilling depth and precision. These are used to specify the requirements for self-optimizing drilling processes. On that basis, a demonstration model of an intelligent drive is developed so that the parameters above can be altered, tested and optimized. Integrated sensors allow the part to be analyzed. The control technology then automatically sets the optimum drilling process parameters. The development draws on the results of cross-sectional projects in self-optimization, energy efficiency and systems engineering. The intelligent drive is converted into an analytical process model for drilling wood and wood composites, and its performance is validated in a woodworking machine.

This project lays the groundwork for the productivity of woodworking machinery to be doubled and for the quality and precision of the drilling process to be improved. Energy consumption and the work involved in adjusting the drill heads to different parts can be significantly reduced. The applications can be transferred to other woodworking processes such as milling and sawing. This makes the finished process model the basis for a new generation of machinery and equipment concepts in German furniture manufacture.

Project duration
01 October 2012 - 30 September 2014