Argos Solutions delivered the first automatic grading system to Egger, one of the world-leading manufacturers, back in 2011. Now, 10 years later, this customer has become a development partner, acquiring a total of seven surface grading systems from Argos Solutions.
The family-owned Egger corporation was established in 1961 in Austria and has grown their business to be a multinational market leader over the past 60 years. In addition to being one of the major suppliers of quality wood-based panel products, they are known for their innovative focus on technology and sustainability. The company, which employs more than 10 000 people, has made “more from wood” their promise, and with that, they rely on the best quality inspection systems.
Argos was the best choice.
In 2011, Argos Solutions was the only supplier that had a proven track record for systems that worked in Particleboard and MDF production lines. They had developed a unique technology, and it was the best choice when Egger needed a solution for their challenges in the inspection of sanded particle boards.
At the time, Egger was in the process of converting their production to the Lean Six Sigma principles, and the surface grading system from Argos complied perfectly with those methods that aim to increase performance and decrease product variation.
Egger was one of the companies I really wanted to work with, says Tor Gustavsen, managing director of Argos Solutions. I have so much respect for the family-owned business and how they work and I knew we could be a good match. When they needed support for the Six Sigma implementation, Egger contacted us and I was confident we had the competence to improve the efficiency in their production lines, Gustavsen says.
Being included in the Lean Six Sigma projects provided accurate results and feedback on the Argos performance, giving Egger the best foundation for evaluating the impact on their production.
Egger wanted to improve the grading accuracy.
The main reason for installing the Argos system was to improve the grading accuracy of the raw board to avoid downgrades in the short-cycle lamination lines due to raw board surface defects. Especially for thin paper and high-gloss surfaces where imperfections in the raw board surface penetrates through the laminated surface and easily can be seen.
The Egger manufacturing team understood the unutilized potential in optimizing the overall plant quality of the production if they were able to implement a more consistent and customized grading in the sanding line.
At the time, they experienced issues with faults and an unnecessary number of downgrades due to the variation in the manual inspection in the sanding line. This caused frustration between the different departments, and the decision to implement the Argos system turned out to be an efficient cure.
– The grading system enabled the different departments to utilize the best quality in the different panels. Some panels, such as lacquered surfaces to kitchens, require very smooth surfaces and a low degree of defects. The irregularities that are accepted in other surfaces cannot be covered by the thin paper laminate. The Argos system detects mm defects, impossible for the human eye to see. This addition solved many of the problems they had experienced and was a game-changer for Egger and their production, says Gustavsen.
We always strive to improve our products and our production processes, says Hannes Mitterweissacher, Technical Director of the Egger Decorative Products Central Division in Egger. When the Argos system was presented to us, we saw the potential to reduce defects and waste, as well as making our production lines more accurate and efficient. The results spoke for themselves, and we decided to install additional systems in several of our factories.
Cooperation, development and support
The success of the first particleboard system in Brilon resulted in a decision to cooperate even closer on new projects across the Egger Group. The next phase in the partnership was to focus on the short-cycle production lines, which would add competence and value to both companies.
In 2016, the first short-cycle system was commissioned in Brilon and through close cooperation the standard Argos Grading System was tailormade to meet the needs of the Egger Group. One system turned into several, and the feedback from Egger and their operators was invaluable for Argos to further improve the systems functionality and performance.
The focus has been to install the system with minimum modification to existing lines, operate with high consistency in a normal production environment and intuitive interface for fast start up. The result is a more robust system that handles the sturdy surroundings in the production facility.
Together, Argos and Egger have developed both software and hardware to meet the requirements of an MFC production line and to make a powerful tool both for operating the line on a day-to-day basis, but also manage the big picture through statistical data, defect management and claim follow-up. The Argos scanners are helping Egger manage and standardize quality control, making sure that all boards leaving an Egger manufacturing site meet their strict demands.
With 10 years of experience with the Argos Grading System we know that it is a very consistent and reliable system, that needs a minimum of support and follow up after being adjusted correctly. When we make our promise “more from wood”, the surface panel inspection systems help us keep that promise to our customers. The Argos system can communicate in different ways with our production line (OPC, 24V digital I/O, etc) and handles automatic product changes and control of the sorting bins. This has definitively become an important tool in our quality control efforts, and we are very satisfied to have developed such a close relationship with Argos as a supplier and partner, concludes Hannes Mitterweissacher.
After the first successful installation at the Egger plant in Brilon, Egger has installed several MFC systems at the Brilon facility, as well as added Argos systems to their MDF production lines in Bevern, Germany, MFC lines in St. Johann and Unterradlberg, Austria.
Argos Solutions was established in Kongsberg, Norway almost 25 years ago, but the demand for their products has exploded the past five years. Their core business is engineering, design, and manufacture of Surface Grading Systems and Panel Repair Systems for the wood panel and building industry worldwide. The Argos Grading System is a powerful and effective system for automating the inspection of all types of surface defects in a wide variety of surfaces. The optical inspection system checks the surface for the smallest defects and monitors the production process continuously.
The company experienced an all-time high in 2020 and has delivered more than 400 systems to customers all over the world.