– We decided to install our first Argos grading system in our plant in La Baie back in 2001, says Director for Technology and Innovation in Uniboard, Pierre Martin.
The experienced Director knew that manual inspection had its limitations and did not utilize the production capacity to a full extent.
– Installing the Argos system was a part of our global focus to reduce the raw particleboard downgrade, and our experience shows these systems have improved our total quality significantly. When we can decrease downgrades in our raw boards, it has a positive domino-effect throughout our entire production all the way to finished laminated products, says Pierre. The result is that we save both time and money, whilst delivering higher quality products, he continues.
Argos has replaced manual inspection 100%
To manually grade the large number of produced panels is a job that has many pitfalls. It is limited how long a human eye can stay focused and the operator concentrated. With the Argos system, Uniboard can run the production for 24 hours non-stop.
– In the beginning, we needed our operators to learn to trust the system and gain the know-how on how to operate it. Now, everyone sees the value of adding this to our lines and the importance of keeping it running. We have completely removed human inspection and are confident that the Argos system is our production’s best watchdog. The flexibility and opportunity to utilize our personnel in an even better way has been a positive experience. We are able to relocate people to other more complex tasks which maximize the potential in our resources, Pierre says.
«The ability to collect data and statistics gives us an advantage.»
In addition to increasing the production efficiency and reducing the downgrade, the grading system from Argos enables Uniboard to collect data and allows them to find the root cause of the downgrade. The statistics give a deeper insight into the types of defects, frequency, and occurrence, making it possible to improve the production process further. The data is also a great asset for the three production sites to exchange experiences.
Different plants have different challenges, and one of the things Uniboard experienced with the Argos system was that it was able to find the correct algorithms for those specific defects unique to the various production facilities. The different boards and patterns require various levels of sensitivity and the Argos system is able to handle those variations.
– Argos ensures we produce quality products and that the specifications are customized for every customer, without over-engineering it. I truly believe that our guys in production would be lost without it, Pierre says with a smile.
Innovative, reliable, and easy to operate.
Pierre Martin, who has been with Uniboard for more than 25 years, has experienced first-hand the changes in innovations, production processes and quality specifications the industry has been trough.
– For us, innovation is a big part of our culture. We are known to be first in the market. So was the case with grading systems from Argos back in 2001. We set a new standard for panel grading, and for most major manufacturers digital inspection is now a given to any efficient production line. Seeing that the system is continuing to be more and more reliable and updated has been great. Our working relationship with Argos to further improve the processes has been a very positive experience.
In the 20 years that the two companies have worked together, Argos has continuously innovated and developed their system.
– Uniboard is both a customer and a development partner to Argos. This is because innovation is not only in their corporate statement, but also part of their daily operation and decisions, says Richard Lepine, general manager at Argos Solutions LLC.
They were one of the first companies to make the jump with Argos in the pursue of lean operation and 20 years later it’s paying off more than ever with the labor shortage and the need for more consistent and better inspection. Uniboard is a customer who has pushed us to make sure our technology was on point and customized to their needs. Over the years, Uniboard has acquired six Argos grading systems (LaBaie, Mont-Laurier, Val d’Or, Moncure, Sayabec Line 1 and line 2) and is a great partner for continuously developing our technology, says Richard.
– Our team has gained a high competence level when it comes to maintaining the systems, Pierre says. We have experienced that even though the system gets new features, the basics remain the same. It is easy to train and update our operators. With very few interruptions, we have not needed many service visits, but we certainly get the support and service from Argos when necessary.
Uniboard is a company that always look forward. To continuously improve and innovate is a core value.
– We have many exciting projects ahead, and it is essential for us to stay above the expected standard. Reliable partners such as Argos is important to keep providing the best quality products to our customers, Pierre concludes.