Embedded Computer Advances Large Wood Sawmill Automation

Jan. 18, 2023
The most popular automatic sawmills not only provide cutting operations but also provide functions such as a human-machine interface (HMI), machine vision, remote control, and feedback to achieve the ultimate goal of reducing labor, waste, and costs.

Today's furniture manufacturers and sawmills are constantly faced with the dual challenge of increasing precision and expanding production capacity. In the past, a large amount of labor was required to perform different tasks in the wood production process, such as operating the sawing machine, sorting wood according to length, printing identification information on the wood, collecting waste materials, and more. In addition, unexpected problems or sudden breakdowns, such as stuck saw blades, still require people to find the problems and fix them.

Sawmills have, through continuous developments of digital transformation and the Internet of Things (IoT), gradually introduced automated machine tools to help improve managing production efficiency. The most popular automatic sawmills not only provide cutting operations but also provide functions such as a human-machine interface (HMI), machine vision, remote control, and feedback to achieve the ultimate goal of reducing labor, waste, and costs.

A North American machine tool equipment manufacturer needed an embedded computer to be integrated into a linear saw machine. This linear saw machine requires only one operator for full operation from accessing the ERP system through the HMI, confirming the product model image file to adding the wood to the automated infeed system. The machine prints markings on any lumber and makes cuts of various sizes, bevels, and cut angles. An embedded computer suitable for this task must offer high processing power, expansion capabilities, and long-term operation.

High-Performance Computing

The computer's core functions are opening various graphics files, running the customer's operating software, and optimizing production scheduling, and it must also handle machine vision. Maximizing productivity requires a computer that can handle the load of multitasking, constant network activity, and connections to many smart devices.

PCIe Expansion

In addition to high-performance computing and multiple peripherals, the computer also needs the flexibility to add extra functions. Besides the GPU card for machine vision to process wood volume measurement, size classification, and collection, the computer also needs a motion control card to control the cutting motion of the blade saw.

Harsh Environment Operation

High vibration and voltage fluctuation in the wood-cutting machine's harsh operating environment can easily cause the computer to malfunction. The embedded computer needs to have a high-strength anti-shock structure and multiple power protections to ensure continuous stable computing and support long-term reliable operation.

The embedded computer chosen was Cincoze's DS-1202 expandable embedded computer. It includes an 8/9th gen Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3 CPU and 64 GBytes of DDR4 memory, which can meet the processing requirements for sensing, analysis, and communications in multiple customer applications.

The DS-1202 offers rugged reliability with many industrial-grade designs and protections, such as fanless and cableless design, industrial-grade wide operating temperature (-40°C to +70°C); antishock and antivibration (50G/5G); wide-range DC power input (9 V to 48 V); and industrial-grade overvoltage, overcurrent, ESD, and surge protection for stable, long-term operation in harsh industrial environments. In addition, the heat dissipation structure and optional internal and external fan kits provide good heat dissipation. The DS-1202 has passed stringent testing and obtained EN50155 (EN50121-3-2) railway and EN62368-1 product safety certifications and can be used in harsh environments.

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