IKEA is the world's leading manufacturer of wooden furniture and is well-known for the importance it attaches to achieving maximum efficiency in its production processes. Most IKEA furniture items consist of standardised modules. Here the Scandinavian furniture giant has come to rely increasingly on sandwich elements for the construction of tables, cabinets, beds, chests of drawers and shelves, such as the popular KALLAX range. The sandwich elements consist of frames filled with lightweight materials like honeycomb paper. The sandwich method gives the furniture a stable structure, cuts down on weight and reduces raw materials consumption.
Blumenbecker Engineering Polska has set up a 50 metre-long production line for sandwich frames at the IKEA plant in Lubawa. 'This is a very complex system where for the very first time we have combined the processing modules for bonding and joining', explains Rafał Wójcik, Blumenbecker's Technical Director Deputy General Industry Division, adding: 'There has never been anything like this before'. The development, construction, automation and installation process lasted one year and involved Blumenbecker Engineering working closely with technology partners Armech. All the components were specially designed and produced by Blumenbecker for IKEA Industry, IKEA's production division.
The production plant can produce nine frame types: frames in different sizes and thicknesses, optionally with or without a centre rail. An operator terminal is used to switch quickly and easily from one frame construction type to another. A new frame leaves the production line every ten seconds. The finished frames are then loaded onto pallets by a robot with a gripper arm that was specially designed by Blumenbecker.
IKEA Industry and Blumenbecker have now been working together for ten years. And for good reason, according to Mariusz Biniek, technical director at IKEA's Zbąszynek factory. 'In order to keep one step ahead of the competition we at IKEA Industry are always looking for new technological solutions. And we have always been confident in Blumenbecker Engineering Polska's ability to come up with new ideas time and time again.' And dependability has always been a valued factor too, for as Bienik points out: 'When it comes to complex projects with tight completion deadlines we need a partner that we can absolutely rely on'.
The production line that Blumenbecker installed at the Lubawa plant has been in operation since the autumn of 2017 and IKEA Industry has already placed the next order for the frame production process.