Reducing Scrap Wood with Laser Measurement

Log on conveyor passing through laser measurement system

Minimize waste and downtime from imperfect log cuts.


Laser measurement sensor, PLC, presence/absence sensor, tower light.

Screenshot of Log Measurement Application

You could argue that anything manufactured has the potential for defects. This seems obvious on high-speed production lines creating custom components for the automotive, aerospace, or medical fields. But what about non-traditional manufacturing environments? Well, they have defects too!

A pallet manufacturer approached the engineers at EMP to solve one of their manufacturing defects that was continuing to occur. The customer produces pallets by first cutting each log into planks. These planks need to be a certain width and have straight cuts on both sides. If either of these is not achieved, the final wooden planks cannot be formed into pallets and are therefore scrapped.

The EMP engineers developed a solution to minimize this scrap. After the initial cut, each wooden plank is placed on a conveyor. As planks move down the conveyor in a guided position, a presence/absence sensor is used to tell the PLC if a 40” or 48” plank is being run. Next, two laser measurement sensors placed on either side of the wooden plank are used to measure the distance from the sensor to the wooden plank. This measurement is sent back to a PLC in the form of voltage. EMP also created a custom program to compute the overall width of the plank. This calculation accounts for any curvature on either side of the plank.

The two laser sensors also take measurements every two inches to verify that each side of the plank is straight. All this data is being captured in the PLC and stored to a file for future reference. This has greatly minimized the customer’s scrap and therefore improved their bottom line!

Do you have a reoccurring manufacturing defect? Contact us today!

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