26 Mar 2019
March 26, 2019

Lasers for timber engineering

March 26, 2019

Adding laser technology to timber engineering manufacturing routines sounds like something more suited to a sci-fi movie, but AV Birch has introduced laser light patterns to a range of its machinery in recent years.

Laser guidance for timber engineering improves accuracy, operational speeds and quality, as well as reducing costs. It’s happening now.

Talk of a Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) often centres around high-tech automotive plants. It’s where you might expect to see lasers in action, alongside robots moving around production facilities, working efficiently alongside humans, boosting safety and output.

That is all ongoing – at engineering plants and depots around the UK. But there’s so much more to automation and improving how manufacturers fine-tune what and how they operate.

Improving efficiencies for timber manufacturers

Laser Projection Open Web Beam

For years, increasing capacity and improving efficiencies within a factory meant expanding the floor space. Newer, faster and more reliable machinery was added.

If the footprint was limited, adding to the workforce was another option. It all increased costs, and not necessary profits.

For many operators of large-scale machinery, such as systems that produce roof trusses and open web floor joists, a solution emerged in the form of lasers.

AV Birch has been testing and implementing laser solutions since 2014, with around 40 systems installed across the UK timber engineering industry in just a few years.

Scott Heyes, Timber Engineering Director at AV Birch, said: “Floor space and set-up time for trusses has always been an issue. What our laser integration offers is a way to maximise the available work areas, resources and the time of experienced jig setters.

“The lasers free up vital time to enable setters to increase production volumes and improve the overall quality of the finished products. That’s really important. It develops a great relationship with the customers who know exactly what they’ll have delivered.”

It’s not just limited to truss production. Scott added: “Recently, we’ve expanded the laser capability by installing a system over one of our Uni-Roll joist machines. It now offers the same benefits for this increasingly popular form of joist manufacturing.

“The results have been great. Similar to truss production, the benefits have increased production and improved quality.”

Benefits of using lasers for timber assembly

The benefits of incorporating lasers into existing processes and procedures have been identified by a number of satisfied customers.

Lasers for timber engineering

Set-up time is dramatically improved. Getting the first truss or beam in place, properly spaced and aligned has always been tricky. Not with lasers. The build team members are quickly guided to the right spot, with the right parts – every time. Errors are dramatically reduced, if not eradicated.

With the first unit successfully positioned, processed and stacked, subsequent cycles follow without too much fuss. The lasers make it easy for the team to get the second, third (etc) units in place. No need for additional time-consuming measurements or realignment.

An immediate knock-on benefit of the laser technology is for new members of the manufacturing team. Training is intuitive, with clear visual guides in place that encourage consistency and accuracy. Learning how to produce new truss designs is a greatly improved process.

Here’s what Chris Williams, Director at E.T.S. Trusses in Shrewsbury, had to say about using lasers with the Uni-Roll Press: “The clear benefits of metal web joists have driven a significant increase in demand throughout the last few years. This combined with ever-increasing labour costs and our desire to stay at the forefront of manufacturing technology has led E.T.S to invest in the latest laser assisted joist set-up system, provided by AV Birch.

“The laser set-up allows the most complex of joist details to be prepared with incredible accuracy and vitally reduces the amount of factory floor set-up time. This creates significant savings to labour costs which can be translated to a cheaper product for our customers without compromising the product quality.”

The end product – and by that we mean great, consistent and quality units produced – is the ultimate win for manufacturers of timber products that add laser technology to their machines.

Consistently accurate building products that are 100% fit for purpose are produced again and again. Happy manufacturing teams; happy customers.

For further information about AV Birch Timber Engineering laser systems call Scott Heyes on 01746 714 418 for additional details and a demo.