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Sheet cutting and process optimazation for furniture enterprises

Final Report Summary - SCOOP (Sheet cutting and process optimization for furniture enterprises)

The optimisation problems arising in the furniture industry are very complex, and in general SMEs are not able to efficiently solve them without external collaboration. The main innovation of this project is the conception of automated woodcutting machines equipped with control systems based on advanced optimisation methods. These methods represent the core of software tools used by CNC machines for wood panels cutting.

The new heuristic and exact optimisation methods recently developed in literature is a substantial step towards the planning and control of flexible manufacturing systems for furniture enterprises. The meetings with SMEs allowed for increasing awareness in company managers of the potential of the optimisation methods to improve the cutting process. The experimentation of real data in the last version of the software created by Softel allowed for comparisons between the results achieved by the developed algorithms and those obtained by the commercial software such as Optisave of the GIBEN International and Optiplanning of the Biesse Group, which are currently used by Mobilpref and BM2000.

SCOOP software provided evidence of a clear improvement in the trim loss for the cutting stock problem and the maximum number of the open stacks simultaneously opened in pattern sequencing. SCOOP optimisation software benefited woodworking SMEs in several ways. First, participating SMEs have improved their ability to enhance production results in terms of performances indexes. The SMEs also acquired valuable expertise. This will allow the companies to continue their technology adoption efforts, for example conducting a technology evaluation to determine their next software purchase. By applying the methods learned through SCOOP, the company can identify a strategic capability, can examine candidate software packages, negotiate with the vendor to obtain the software they want, and implement their optimisation strategies without help from SCOOP personnel. Furthermore, the body of knowledge gained can help the SMEs to avoid many pitfalls, while streamlining their efforts, and improving their chances of technology adoption success.

The most important benefit for Softel is that it owns the intellectual property rights (IPR) of SCOOP optimisation software. The development of this software has been possible thanks to the strict collaboration with RTD performers and woodworking partner SMEs. Contacts with sawing machines producers have been established during the XYLExpo exhibition in Milan and some of them were interested in testing the software and to pursue a collaboration with Softel in the future.

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