The Holzma company produced the first horizontal panel saw, with the saw unit running underneath the saw table, back in 1967.
With the rapid growth in popularity of melamine faced particleboard for furniture construction at that time, Holzma saw the demand for saws which could cut this material accurately, without the problems associated with edge-chipping of the laminate. Thus, in 1970, the first panel-sizing saw with pressure beam and electronically-controlled lateral positioning fence was produced and from that time on, Holzma equipped all its saws with a scoring unit, which was adjustable horizontally and vertically from the outside.
Two years later, the company produced its first angular saw system, for which it is now famous in the primary panel manufacturing industry as well as among furniture producers.
Holzma entered a new chapter in its history in 1987 when it became part of the large and diverse Homag group of woodworking machinery companies, enabling it to expand even faster in its already international markets.
Holzma produces its larger saw systems in three series: the 3, 4 and 5 Series and it is principally the 5 Series which finds itself in large primary panel production factories.
Two years ago, the company announced a unique form of construction for a saw when it launched the mineral cast base for the 5 Series.
This new series was to be faster than its predecessor models and this increase in performance had the potential to raise problems with the susceptibility of the whole saw to increased vibration, leading to higher noise levels and reduced cutting quality.
The mineral cast base was designed to prevent this. It consists of hard rocks with varying grain sizes which are combined with binding agents, such as epoxy resin, and special additives, to produce a casting compound specially tailored to the individual requirements of the machine and which can be cast to high tolerance levels.
Prior to going into series production, Holzma says the concept of its mineral cast base, known as Sorb Tech, was extensively tested by the Materials Testing Unit of the University of Stuttgart and the product was found to produce very low vibration, making it especially quiet, structurally rigid and resistant to deformation. This meant good running accuracy of the blades, reduced wear, and thus increased tool life and availability of the saw, giving lower long-term operating costs.
One recent customer for a large angular system was panel maker Swedwood (owned by furniture retailer IKEA), which bought an HKL570 machine. This revised saw was launched two years ago and Holzma has sold 19 units to date, mainly to panel makers.
All HKL models, in addition to the Sorb Tech mineral cast frame, have fully-automatic rip- and cross-cutting, a newly-designed saw carriage, camera-controlled scoring saw adjustment and the CADmatic 4 Professional optimisation system.
Holzma claims smooth running, high precision and low energy consumption for its new saw carriage, which it says is torsion-resistant, rugged and resilient in the construction of the steel plate body. It is also said to offer infinite adjustability of both saw carriage speed and positioning of the saw blades. Fast and easy saw change is also claimed, employing the company’s patented ‘Power-Loc’ system.
The camera-controlled scoring saw adjustment, an optional extra on some smaller models, makes its adjustments fully automatically. The camera itself selects the colour of lighting and the exposure time and makes a simple adjustment in a minute at most, says Holzma, with that adjustment being accurate to one hundredth of a millimetre.
Another Holzma patent which is standard on the 5 series is the central aligning device. Integrated in the saw carriage, this is said to shorten cycle times by up to 25% compared with conventional systems and allows the processing of thin panels or laminates.
Other standard features include the electro-hydraulic four-column lift table for infeed and the pull-out and waste flap at the rip saw. The pull-out is there to offer trouble-free onward transport of even narrow strips, and the waste flap has rollers for automatic waste removal.
A separate backing wall, not attached to the machine base, is said to ensure precise cuts, with the feed-stacking, aligning and off-stacking of books of panels having no effect on the machine bed.
The HKL saw is also capable of cutting honeycomb boards, which are becoming increasingly popular with furniture makers seeking lightweight solutions – notably IKEA – while for thin boards, the dual clamping system can accommodate 2mm thickness.
The HKL 570 is claimed to be the fastest machine on the market and, although it offers a reduced cutting height – at 150mm compared with the previous 200mm – faster operation is still said to mean higher output.
Also new across Holzma’s 3 and 5 series lines is ‘ecoLine’, claimed to save at least 20% in energy requirements, employing a standby mode, new energy-efficient motors, optimized dust extraction and other patented developments.
Holzma also offers combined sanding and sawing lines, incorporating the special model HFL33 angular saw.
In this system, Holzma supplies a scissor-lift table and roller conveyors and nip rollers for sander infeed and outfeed (the sander is supplied by a separate specialist company) and transport throughout the combined line. For reject panels, a B-grade box can be inserted in the line after the sander.
Then a nail pad feeding system takes the panels into the sawing area, via a feed-stacking table to the rip saw, then automatic pull-out to the intermediate table before cross-cutting and subsequent aligning and handling.
All the machinery makers for the panel industry have of course been affected to some degree by the global economic downturn and Holzma had its share of the bad times as managing director Eckhard Hörner-Marass acknowledged.
“In general we had a very challenging situation in 2008/9 but we survived and remained profitable,he said. “The situation has improved since the beginning of 2010. I cannot be sure that there will be a steady growth in the next couple of months – things go up and down – but in general things are up and this is important for us.
“I would say that things are a little more positive in the furniture sector than in [primary] panel production, with stronger business development – that is my impression.
“There was a lot of investment in 2006 to 2008, especially in Asia and South America and this led to some over-capacity, but in general I am positive, looking into the near future and I see positive developments in China, India, South East Asia and some business coming from South America.”
For international trade, Holzma has its own sales offices in Spain and the US, as well as the Homag group’s global network of offices for sales and service. Barcelona is also home to another production facility where ‘entry-level’ models HPP 230, HPP 250 and HPP 250 P are made.
In pursuit of a policy of producing saws specifically designed for regional markets, there is a factory in Shanghai producing the HPP 180, and one in São Paolo making the HPM 120.
Twenty-four hour attention is also available to all Holzma’s customers on the telephone and online through Holzma’s ‘HelpLine’, ‘TeleService’ and ‘TeleServiceNet’ facilities.
After small beginnings in the sawing sector more than 40 years ago, Holzma soon became a major player on the international stage – a position it holds firmly today.