The company began by making various woodworking machines, such as planers, in 1917 and later concentrated all its resources in those panel saws.

Schwarzach is where all the custom-made machines are individually designed on 3-D CAD machines and where those machines are built from scratch and tested before delivery.

Schelling also has a factory in Slovakia, Schelling SK, where the steel frames are prepared and then shipped to Schwarzach for welding, machining and assembly into angular panel saw systems, or single-line plants for furniture manufacturers.

"Our strongest market is in Europe, mainly central Europe, but we also have sales guys and service technicians covering Asia and China (based in Singapore), as well as in Poland, Italy, Australia, Russia and North America. These are 100% Schelling-owned," said Stefan Krebs, head of marketing.

Of course, several of the biggest western European panel making companies have expanded into eastern Europe, setting up panel making factories there, so it is not surprising that Schelling’s saw lines are to be found in many of those mills, too.

The company’s angular panel sawing systems cannot stand alone in a panel factory and Schelling integrates them into the whole production process, offering handling systems to receive panels from the sander and stack them for the cut-to-size system.

"It is no problem for us to integrate controls into the production line and we have around 30 software engineers inhouse who are used to working with connections to other types of machines both before and after our saw lines," said Mr Krebs.

"Some of our panel manufacturing customers are now producing components for the furniture industry [as opposed to standardsize panels] and have to offer just-in-time (JIT) delivery to their clients and this is an increasing trend in western Europe.

"For JIT delivery, they have a huge amount of panels to sort and stack in different thicknesses and in sizes from A4 upwards, and we can supply robotic handling systems to deal with that. Or we can supply conventional sorting and stacking with roller conveyors and our patented gripper system.

"Everything that comes to the robotic systems has already been optimised for cutting, but all sizes are automatically measured at the robotic station to check them."

Optimising software to ensure the most economical cutting of full-size panels coming from the press line is another speciality of Schelling.

When dealing with very thin HDF panels of two, three, or four millimetre thickness, handling becomes even more critical as these panels will easily slide on each other.

This is where Schelling’s patented gripper system comes into its own, producing perfectly aligned packages, said the marketing manager.

Speed is also critical and Mr Krebs said that Schelling machines can handle line speeds of 80 or even 150m/minute.

Because its machines have a long life, Schelling offers mechanical and software upgrades from a separate department to keep the machines relevant in today’s high-speed panel making industry.

"If someone has an angular plant that would cost €1-1.5m and can upgrade it for €200-300,000, that is a good proposition," said Mr Krebs.

Some panel making companies may have multiple production lines on one site, or indeed on multiple sites, and if all these lines have their own individual control systems, it can become expensive and cumbersome, possibly requiring the purchase of multiple dongles for the computers and multiple software licences, explained the head of marketing.

Schelling’s solution is a Terminal Server with all the software, including optimisation software, installed and controlling all those saw lines.

"This makes the customer’s onsite IT much simpler – it is a huge advantage to have one server, with all the software on it and one software licence," said Mr Krebs.

"In fact, for one customer who only produced panels during the day, we were able to set up the new terminal overnight and switch over to it the next day in time to resume production."

In the factory
Steelwork brought in from the Slovakian subsidiary is delivered to Schwarzach for machining.

The larger milling machines have beds enabling up to 14m lengths of steel to be machined in one piece, with accuracies of one hundredth of a millimetre.

The saw tables for Schelling machines are made of steel, with no plastic wear surfaces.

"If we need to protect the panels being sawn, we will chrome-plate the tables," said Mr Krebs.

Each saw carriage is completely assembled by one man for quality control and the carriage then goes to another work station for another one person to carry out the electrical work before the carriage is assembled into the body of the saw in another area of the factory.

Carriage drives use a rack and pinion system because Schelling believes this gives reliability and accurate positioning of the saw.

All the motors and rotating parts for every saw are balanced in the factory on special machines to ensure no vibration and thus better quality sawing and a longer life for the machine; angular plants have electric motors of up to 75kW capacity and these have to be stable and reliable, pointed out Mr Krebs.

Schelling’s Evolution sawing concept means that only the saw blade moves, without the whole motor, which again is said to produce less vibration as well as higher cutting speeds.

In another area of the factory, the gripper/pusher system and infeed section of the machine are assembled.

The whole angular saw system is finally brought together and tested, the latter often under the watchful eye of the customer, in the Schelling factory.

With similar attention to detail, all electrical systems are assembled from scratch at Schwarzach, with no bought-in components.

For the transport of panels through a Schelling angular system, multiple plastic rollers are used. Whilst these small rollers are one of the few bought-in components, even they are milled to ensure perfect smoothness to avoid any damage to the panel surface.

At the time of my visit to the factory, an angular system covering an area of 30 x 45m was undergoing final assembly for testing before dispatch to a panel factory in China.

However, this system was small when compared to another under assembly, which will have two angular saw plants in parallel and occupy a floor area of 60 x 61m. This giant is destined for a kitchen cabinet manufacturer.

To ensure that the long tradition of Schelling is continued, the company has around 30 apprentices employed at any one time.

These young people spend three years learning every aspect of the business, beginning by hand-working metal to familiarise themselves with the material, before moving on to CNC machining, lathes and training in electrical and electronic engineering. So at the end of their training, they have a full understanding of how Schelling’s products are made.

Ongoing service
Once a Schelling angular saw (or any other type of saw) is delivered to the customer, the connection with the saw manufacturer is maintained via the service hot line and every machine has individual mechanical and electrical documentation on file. An owner’s manual also goes out with every unique machine.

The hot line is free for the life of the machine on an eight-hours-a-day basis (whatever time zone you are in) and can be extended to 24/7 if payment for such a service contract is made.