Innovative use of CNC technology for the manufacture of furniture in batch size of one
AuthorAshley, Philip Neil
AffiliationForest and Ecosystem Science
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2016 Philip Neil Ashley
While the adoption of CNC technologies in Australia has been rapid by World standards, the successful integration of machines and systems into the Australian solid timber furniture factory has been harder to achieve. This dissertation aims to assess elements of the furniture manufacturing process using CNC equipment to identify best practice and lean manufacturing solutions. Small batch sizes suitable for flexible manufacturing are the goal of every manufacturer; however variations in part design, order quantities, delivery deadlines and setup times make actual batch size calculations difficult to define. This study will assess methods that could be used to reduce batch sizes; in particular the viability of combining all of the components for one piece of furniture into a single CNC program. A number of examples will be presented and the advantages and disadvantages to small batch sizes evaluated and discussed. CNC machinery, cutting tools, tool holding devices and emerging technology will be assessed for performance and suitability for lean manufacturing and small batch sizes. Practical methods to improve production efficiency by organizing workflow and re-thinking how components are processed will be demonstrated. This work concludes that there is no commercial gain in combining all of the parts of a piece of furniture in the one CNC program. It (rather) finds that utilizing appropriate cutting tools and smart processes will bring about gains in productivity that is currently unrealized. It finds that the capability exists within the current performance of CAD and CNC processing to reduce setup and machining times further than are presently achieved in the Australian furniture industry. It finds that training does not adequately provide industry with the skilled workers required and it finds that industry does not always purchase machinery suitable for small batch sizes or for processing the variety of materials used in Australian furniture manufacture. The major findings were that for the processing of kitchen cabinets; a nested manufacturing solution delivered the most benefits for small batch-size production. Rail machines are recommended for small batch sizes of furniture using predominantly solid wood. The smallest batch size is not always the best batch size. It was determined that in the case of a small batch processing multiple parts in the same cycle with a jig in solid wood; there is no saving in time. The use of high-performance tools is highly recommended in order to take advantage of lessened runout, quick-change tool systems and stacked tooling. Applying the tool in a “power feed” direction may not always be the most ideal in terms of breakout; tool life and power consumption. More efficient ways of processing parts are available to the manufacturer and this was demonstrated by combining common parts into one processing cycle. The layout of the furniture factory has a direct effect on the material flow and productivity. The range of issues identified in Mo et al. (2001) can be improved with training. Skilled workers are required to investigate the production sequence and put in place best practice for CNC production.
KeywordsCNC; furniture; batch size; manufacture
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