Case Clamp Workflow Setup

      Tips on labor-saving arrangements for integrating a case clamp into your production setup. April 12, 2011

We recently acquired a JC Uhling case clamp and I am wondering what the best setup is that people are using for moving cabinets down from the assembly bench into the clamp, then from the clamp to the wrapping/packaging station, and then onto the pallet or flat storage cart? We assemble approx 20-30 frameless MDF boxes per day and it is a real back breaker as we have it now. Any ideas and pictures are greatly appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor Y:
We are just setting up our work station for our new Cosmo NK (Comil) case clamp. We put risers under it to bring the working height up to 25". We built a bench in front at the same height for assembly only. On the back side we are building another bench at 25" and butting it up tight to the clamp. We will be able to push/pull cabinets out without ever lifting them. We will then put doors, drawer fronts, and hardware on before being skidded or onto carts. Our future plan is to get scissor lifts under each bench so the cabinetmaker can adjust to their needs.

From contributor L:
I am in the same process. I noticed there is an assembly bench station mentioned before the case clamp. I am planning to go from the material cart to the case clamp. Also, Iím applying hardware in the clamp. Is the assembly bench before the clamp necessary?

From the original questioner:
With our clamp it seems necessary to assemble on a bench prior to inserting in the clamp. I have seen some types that have a large flat surface in the clamp though.

From contributor S:
The hardware is best attached prior to the clamp. The cabinet will be in the clamp for a short period. When setting up a cell you want to focus on sorting and material handling. Minimize handling. Depending on your volume and staff your setup will change. Hanging out in case clamp will bottleneck you too much. It contradicts the job of the case clamp. If you are going to assemble in this fashion it would be no different than using a pair of bar clamps. Group processes. If you touch parts without adding value you are losing money. So as you sort perform secondary functions like doweling, attaching hardware, and etc.

From contributor Y:
Contributor S - I may print what you wrote and give it to my guys. Nail on the head! We are working on our layout for the cell which includes CNC, bander, horiz. bore and Blum mini press. We are trying to come up with a good way to sort parts off the CNC. We want to group them by cabinet but we also need to separate all the parts that need end boring. All the parts come off with cabinet numbers but the part you want is always on the bottom. We have been considering stacking parts on edge but are concerned with edge chipping.

From contributor S:
There is no need to sort parts by cabinet until you are ready to build. Sort off the Bander by secondary process needs - parts needing doweled, doors and shelves. Cart the parts after these processes have been done by cabinet. The key also is batch size. Cut what you build in a day. Shop staff can become overwhelmed with parts. If parts are cut at a pace greater than you build your staff mentally never sees the pile reduce; therefore they do not feel as if anything was accomplished. Think about that! If your desk always has a pile 10' high you feel overwhelmed and your productivity is diminished.

From contributor L:
Raise the clamp to the assembly bench height and put the hardware on while sides are flat on bench, inject the glue into the holes, knock case loosely together and slide into clamp using some sort of ball roller top support or other. Clamp, fasten back. If you are doing enough cases per day it's best to unload from the back side onto a bench to add shelves, drawers, doors, and etc. Package and use roller conveyor to move to shipping area. If no conveyor, use a lift to lower cases and a hand truck to move them. A cheap and fast solution to lowering the cases is to use a laminated slide. Time in the clamp only has to be long enough to get the next one ready. We build uppers upside down so the visible part is not scratched on handling.

Keep the batch size small, label and sort parts at the router by next destination, band parts and sort off the bander by case and next destination (this can be a Chinese fire drill ), bore and insert machine - sort by case into slots one step away. The assembly bench is one step on the other side. All parts up to the bore and insert are moved on roller conveyor and transfer cars. All parts for other than simple boxes go via roller conveyor and transfer car to the three other assembly benches.

From contributor S:
Contributor L has it down. I did not mention elevating the clamp. We have ours at 28" and our outbound conveyor is also 28". This keeps you from breaking your back. We bought a scissor lift used and place it at the end of our gravity conveyor. This allows a single person to lower the heaviest tall wardrobe down. On our outbound conveyors we have some branch lines that t-off from the main line. This is where we place problematic cabinets. You know damaged or missing parts or custom specialty hardware type. It allows the main line to continue.

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