Articles

Robotics

First use of robot in Southeast Asia’s wood industry to increase productivity and lower carbon footprint

May 2010 - A wood processing company based in Singapore, Pacific Forest Products Pte Ltd, has improved efficiency and productivity by 200 percent by using ABB’s robots to produce high quality wood products for the building of lifestyle homes and hotel resorts.

Precise skills and experienced manpower are required to prepare wood needed for Pacific Forest’s clients, which include prestigious hotels in the French Polynesian islands of Bora Bora and Moorea.
 

Carpentry skills honed by people over several years were transferred to ABB’s multitasking IRB6640 Foundry Robot, by mounting tools on the robot to assist in accurate cutting, machining, drilling and finishing. The robot helped Pacific Forest reduce the amount of work contracted-out, by producing an output equivalent of 20 workers. The IRB6640 can achieve more precision compared to traditional methods, and has helped the company reduce unwanted wood wastage. Precise cutting is also important in managing productivity and costs for high density woods such as Balau and Merbau, which are more expensive and difficult to cut.

Wood products by Pacific Forest are key elements of buildings like The Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora.

 

As the first company in Southeast Asia to use a robot in the wood industry, Managing Director of Pacific Forest, Jason Chang said, “As part of our Gaia-friendly beliefs, we have looked into ways to reduce our impact on the environment. By reducing the amount of wood work processes being contracted-out, we could reduce the number of truck trips between factories, hence reducing our carbon footprint.” 

Jason and his team had researched on the capabilities of the robot, and devised a solution of incorporating a CAD to CAM software to work with the robot. A Computer Aided Design (CAD) to Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software helps to generate the points and path for robot movement, using drawings generated from CAD software. This CAD to CAM conversion significantly reduces programming time. Pacific Forest also developed a breakthrough design of a clamping system for the robot, introducing flexibility and ensuring smooth conversion.

The ABB team helped to train the robotics engineer, and worked very closely with Pacific Forest to overcome technical difficulties, and gave assistance in programming, to ensure smooth operations.

Besides increasing productivity and lowering Pacific Forest’s carbon footprint, ABB’s robot also helped in saving process costs, and increased the safety standard of the workplace. Dust, wood splinters and noise are fenced in with the robot, allowing engineers to work in a more pleasant environment.

 

The IRB6640 Foundry Robot achieved higher productivity, precision, and helped reduce material wastage.

 

 

ABB will deliver a second IRB6640 robot, to help Pacific Forest to further increase its productivity. Pacific Forest aims towards full automation in a few years with a total of five robots. As part of the company’s sustainability plan, Pacific Forest is also looking into developing new wood substitute products to replace natural wood.


About Pacific Forest
Pacific Forest Products is based in Singapore, and has expanded from its humble beginnings in 1988 into a multifaceted business. The company’s core activities include the design and building of lifestyle homes, hotel resorts, and the manufacturing and trading of wood products.