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Material Handling System for Single Finishing Line

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Year: 2007
Application: Hardwood & Engineering Flooring

Acme Floor wins new markets with its Vacuum Coating Line

In-house finishing is no longer the exclusive domain of large flooring manufacturers. Just ask Acme Floor Co., a Kansas City, KA-based manufacturer of high end residential and commercial flooring. In the past two years, Acme Floor has successfully incorporated the finishing technology to offer interior designers and their customers, literally hundreds of special colors and finish combinations, regardless of the size of their project.

A unique type of hardwood flooring

Since 1926, four generations of Kenney family have owned and managed one of the most successful hardwood flooring installation business in the Midwest. Under Bob Kenney Jr's govern, Acme Floor's manufacturing business evolved and expanded towards a completely equipped production facility. In the past few years, Acme has developed a superior quality plank flooring that is marketed by its Villagio Madera Division

The Pre-finishing Vision

A pre-finishing system made by Delle Vedove offered Acme a virtually unlimited selection of colors and surface sheens, and it remains economical to operate when producing small runs. The factory-applied U. V. cured Urethane is tougher and more durable than any surface coating that can be applied at a job site, and pre-finished flooring is installed in a one-step process. More importantly the finish is applied in such a way that the stain and U.V. cured urethane reach the crevasse and indentations that give Acme's hand scrapped Character Floor its natural beauty.

Material Handling System for Single Finishing Line Acme Photo 1Material Handling System for Single Finishing Line Acme Photo 2

However, the logistics of processing a continuous stream of random length hardwood flooring through the finishing line needed to be addressed. Since Doucet had successfully adapted their End-Matcher and Packaging System to suit Acme's specialty flooring products, Bob did not hesitate to turn to Doucet for a turnkey handling solution. A solution that integrates the staining and finishing units into one continuous process.

Acme's challenges and Doucet solutions

The finishing line including the sanders, vacuum coaters and U.V. curing ovens was nearly 160 feet long and Acme's plant is just 120 feet long.

Doucet proposed to break down the finishing line in two separate units: a staining line and a finishing line. Linked by an automatic transfer table both components operate as a one continuous line. The automatic transfer table features infeed rollers, a traverse bar conveyor and exit rollers working in the opposite direction. Doucet's solution not only solves the footprint problem, it allows the boards exiting the staining line's oven to cool down before re-entering into the finishing line.

The vacuum coaters in both units require that the boards passing through the system form an uninterrupted stream of boards with no gaps in between one another; the feed speed can reach 80 feet or up to 30 floor boards per minute.

Doucet built a feeding device that breaks the nested bundles of flooring into individual rows and dispensing the floorboards to the staining line one row at a time. The quick cycle time of the feeder allows for an immediate closing of the gaps between the rows. The floorboards form a continuous string of flooring through the staining line. Upon exiting the staining line oven, the stream of boards is accelerated creating a gap between each other. Board length is automatically compiled to prompt the transfer cycle as soon each complete row has entered the transfer table. Upon exiting the transfer table, the gaps between the rows are closed again as the boards queue into the finishing line.

The flooring comes to the finishing plant from several flooring mills in nested bundles; once the finishing process is completed it needs to be repackaged for delivery to the job site.

The same equipment that was supplied by Doucet at Acme's flooring mill in Kansas City is used to package the finished flooring exiting the finishing line oven. The beauty of that system is that the boards exit the finishing line in the same sequence as they entered initially, allowing the re-packaging operation to be performed by just one operator. Upon the operator's command the nested bundles are automatically routed to the two strapping machines.

A true asset for our company...

Since the finishing line is only manned by 3 operators, 1 at the infeed station, 1 at the outfeed station and 1 operating the strapping machine, the labour cost per thousand board feet is kept to a minimum. There is one supervisor controlling the quality of the process and ensuring that all is running smoothly. The integration of the line may sound simple on paper, however, a lot of electronic and mechanical features had to be built into its operating system allowing to handle the bowed, the bent and the sometimes twisted flooring product without jams or pile-ups. Most of the adjustments needed for width changes are done at the touch on a user friendly touch screen. "Our Doucet Manufacturing Efficiency Solution is a real asset to our company..." says Bob Kenney, " that worked from day one and that we have been able to optimize over a very short period of time.

Integrated Solutions
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