Easier to Handle | Automated Production Lines & Roll-Pack Machines Streamline Mattress Manufacturing
By BedTimes Magazine
When it comes to shopping for today’s manufacturing facilities, equipment buyers have a lot on their minds. They want machines that can make their operations run smoothly, efficiently and sustainably while at the same time save them money, increase safety and reduce errors.
Machine producers have stepped up to deliver a multitude of options that can address those needs, particularly in the areas of material handling and roll-pack equipment.
Material handling refers to the movement, storage and control of raw materials and finished products throughout the production process. In the past, factories depended on manual labor to move pieces through production. Now, more and more, manufacturers have automated as much of the process as possible. Equipment makers sell conveyor systems to move mattresses from one point to another, robot arms to grasp and move spring or foam units, and machines that stack, flip or store mattresses.
Roll-pack machinery involves compressing and rolling a finished mattress into a compact form that can be boxed and shipped. With smaller dimensions, boxed beds decrease the cost of transportation.
The benefits of automation are numerous.
“Advanced material handling systems ensure precise and accurate measurements during production, preventing material waste and improving product consistency,” says Eugenio Fonts, vice president of marketing and international sales for Lawrenceville, Georgia-based machine producer Atlanta Attachment Co.
Paul Block, president of sales for Global Systems Group, the machinery division of Carthage, Missouri-based Leggett & Platt, notes that GSG has been involved in solving material handling problems for decades. The AutoBuild line the company showcased at Interzum Cologne in May demonstrated how automation “reduces labor requirements, and the production rate is well regulated for greater efficiency,” he says.
In addition to reducing labor needs and potential workplace accidents, and increasing employee safety and efficiency, automation can boost sustainability.
“Efficient material handling systems reduce waste and energy consumption by optimizing the use of raw materials and streamlining the production process,” Fonts says. “Furthermore, roll-packing significantly reduces the packaging material required for shipping, minimizing waste and reducing carbon emissions associated with transportation.”
Scroll down for a look at what some of the bedding industry’s machinery makers are supplying to manufacturers to meet today’s production needs.
A portion of Global Systems Group’s space at Interzum Cologne showcased an automated production line, which included the XT9 loading robot seen here.
GSG — production line in action
At Interzum Cologne in May, GSG demonstrated an automated hybrid mattress core build-up production line controlled by a single operator.
The system automatically loaded pocket coils at one end of the line, which passed through a hot-melt glue machine. At the same time, a robot loaded foam sheets onto the XT9 StitchBridge at the other end of the line. The XT9-produced foam layers were applied to the glue-coated coil unit in the center of the production line and then discharged.
“This was just a single example of the many ways GSG can design a production line customized perfectly for greater productivity, reduction of labor, deskilling the labor requirements and optimizing the materials associated with production,” Block says.
The line included the XT9 loading robot, MB-45/alignment conveyor, SBC layering conveyor, PS-140U stacking/unstacking conveyor unit and mattress elevator.
The XT9 loading robot features a variable gripper system that enables it to pick up and place a variety of materials. It’s programmed to load materials with precise layer alignment.
The MB-45 is another pick-and-place device that loads materials into a production line. The one showcased at Interzum used a new magnetic system for lifting spring units, but other gripper options are available for foam or other soft mattress materials. GSG’s alignment conveyor pairs with the MB-45. When units are loaded onto the conveyor, integrated movable guides position it for proper transport to the next operation.
GSG’s new SBC layering conveyor automatically places layers exactly where they need to go. At the Interzum demo, the SBC lifted prepared foam sheets onto a glue-coated spring unit to assemble the mattress core. “One unique benefit of the SBC layer conveyor is that it can dispense units in multiple directions to accommodate various production line configurations without using any labor when joining and aligning layers,” Block says.
The PS-140U conveyor section transfers materials from a loading point onto carts and raises or lowers the conveyor for proper positioning as the cart fills. A new gripper device lifts units to unstack, as well.
In terms of roll-pack equipment, the TK-381, which performs well with thick, hybrid beds, has new variations available based on the needs of the customer, Block notes. Those include shrink wrapping, extra film layers, dual fold and trifold options, automatic boxing and the use of paper sealing to reduce plastic packaging.
GSG also offers the ROA-400RS. “This might be better described as a roll-unpack machine,” Block says. “It can automatically open and dispense roll-packed spring units one at a time and even reseal unused units for condensed storage until needed. This provides greater control and employee safety over the otherwise chaotic manual opening process.”
Elektroteks — abundant options
Elektroteks has hundreds of machines that automate material handling and roll packing, says Serkan Güler, CEO of the Bursa, Turkey-based company.
Elektroteks brought a number of its material handling machines, such as the robot arm in the background, to Interzum Cologne in May.
“We have robot arms to feed the material — foam, spring, felt, quilt panel, etc. — to the lines, assemble the mattress automatically, make a box for the mattress then put the mattress into that box, which is especially important for boxed beds,” he says.
For example, its RoBOX-100 automatic roll-pack-mattress-boxing robot does exactly what its name implies — it creates a box, places mattresses into it, closes the box and then stacks it. The machine can handle heavy mattresses, works with different box types at the same time and can be integrated into any roll-pack machine. Similarly, the RoBOX-F creates, fills, seals and stacks flat-pack mattresses.
The RobET series meets automation needs by pulling together a collection of machines: the RobET-FP foam feeding robot, RobET-SP spring feeding and placing robot, and RobET-SFP foam and spring feeding robot.
Elektroteks brings many of these concepts together in BEDLINE, an automatic mattress production line.
It combines everything “with robots, conveyors, glue lines, tape-edge machines, compress-and-roll machines, stackers, stuffers, etc.,” Güler says. “It is a factory concept rather than a (single) machine that brings the factories far beyond the industry.”
According to a company brochure, advantages include reduced labor cost, lower glue consumption, consistent efficiency with reduced operator fatigue, neater production with less handling, adaptability to existing equipment, quality management and reporting tools.
United Mattress Machinery — U.S.-based support and service
Michael Porter Jr., vice president of sales for United Mattress Machinery, says the Delray Beach, Florida-based company has been selling and installing a lot of mattress conveyor systems.
“These increase productivity, reduce footprint and also employee headcount,” he says.
A quick glance at the company’s website shows 18 different conveyor components, from a four-arm flip station to horizontal and vertical stack indexers. Eight more are in research and development.
All are designed to work with any type of mattress and can be configured in various ways to fit factory footprints. Automated conveyor mattress production lines use programmable logic controller systems and can be integrated with tape-edge and packing machines, as well as automated hot-melt and water-based roll-coat glue systems.
In roll-pack equipment, United offers the UM-RP-4 station roll-pack system. It handles mattresses up to 20-inches thick, and eye sensors automatically adjust for the height and width for each mattress, Porter says.
United Mattress Machinery offers the UM-RP-4 station roll-pack system. Eyelike sensors adjust for the height and width of each mattress. Additionally, it can store as many as eight heavy film rolls, saving time when reloading.
A coolant system controls the temperature of the sealing element, keeping it consistent and reducing how often weld tape should be replaced. A heavy-duty poly film roll rack holds up to eight rolls, making machine loading easier.
A side loader option allows the operator to shrink-wrap a mattress topper or foam mattress, bypassing the poly wrapping station.
Porter touts the company’s U.S.-based service and support team. “We have been pleased with our roll-pack wrapper sales while maintaining great service and delivering machines on time,” he says.
Atlanta Attachment Co. — today and tomorrow
Looking at the current trends and demands in mattress production, Atlanta Attachment Co. offers the 1967-AX-Robot, and the auto-tape machine 1315R.
The 1967-AX-Robot picks up and places spring and foam panels during assembly, thanks to an advanced vision system. This system allows it to accurately identify and pick up panels from the production line and place them precisely, says Fonts, vice president of marketing and international sales for Atlanta Attachment. The system’s programmable nature allows it to adapt to different mattress sizes and configurations, providing manufacturers with the flexibility needed to meet varying customer demands.
“This type of robotic system addresses the need for efficiency and productivity by significantly reducing manual labor and potential errors associated with traditional handling methods,” he says.
The auto-tape machine 1315R is designed to manipulate heavy-duty mattresses, including the flip and turn process. By automating the flip and turn, it helps maintain the structural integrity of the mattress, so that it retains its comfort and support properties, Fonts says. The machine also integrates with roll-pack machinery, further enhancing logistics and transportation.
Atlanta Attachment Co.’s 1967-AX-Robot employs an advanced vision system to identify and pick up panels and place them precisely.
“By showcasing these cutting-edge solutions at the last Interzum, our company has demonstrated a commitment to meeting the evolving needs of the mattress production industry,” he says. “The 1967-AX-Robot and auto-tape machine 1315R address key aspects, such as efficiency, quality, safety and sustainability, making them highly relevant and attractive offerings in the current market. As the industry continues to progress, integrating smart factory capabilities and focusing on customer satisfaction will further enhance the appeal and competitiveness of these solutions.”
Fonts adds that Atlanta Attachment is looking forward to the International Sleep Products Association’s EXPO in March 2024.
“Our team has poured relentless efforts into designing cutting-edge technology that caters to the evolving needs of the mattress production industry,” Fonts says. “We invite industry leaders, manufacturers and stakeholders to join us at this premier event to experience firsthand the future of mattress production, where sustainability, adaptability and innovation converge to reshape the industry landscape.”
Affi, Italy-based Dolphin Pack demonstrated its new Etesian Smart Hybrid roll-pack machine.
In recent years, the bedding market has demanded decreased footprint, improved ergonomics, better energy use and the opportunity to reduce plastic, the company says. The Etesian Smart Hybrid is Dolphin Pack’s answer.
Dolphin Pack’s Etesian Smart Hybrid roll-pack machine gives manufacturers the flexibility of choosing different roll-packing materials, such as the traditional plastic or more sustainable paper.Mert Makina’s M-7500 automatic panel hemming machine works in tandem with the M-7000 automatic panel palletizing machine to sew edges on a panel and then stack it.
It’s a compact and ergonomic line that gives manufacturers the ability to compress, fold, roll and pack mattresses and toppers. Users can choose to roll pack mattresses in plastic or opt for paper, a more sustainable option. “This machine was born to do both,” says Anna Montresor, sales and marketing executive for the company.
The machine also takes up less space, coming in at less than 40 feet.
Mert Makina offered an automation solution with its M-7500 automatic panel hemming machine and M-7000 automatic panel palletizing machine. When a mattress comes off the quilter, the machine sews edges on all four ends and stacks the panels.
“Everyone is looking for automation,” said Jim Baptiste, director and sales representative for the Kayseri, Turkey, company. “That’s where the industry is headed.”