7. August 2023

GIS crane system as a helping hand for efficient wood processing

The company schaerholzbau is constantly investing in modern and efficient production. At the beginning of the year, for example, the machinery at the Grossdietwil site was equipped with a new CNC machining centre. A GIS crane system with a shelf storage operation unit ensures that the wooden boards are quickly and effortlessly transferred from the cantilever rack to the machine's work table.
A GIS crane system with storage and retrieval unit ensures that the wooden boards are quickly and effortlessly transferred from the cantilever rack to the work table of the machine

The company schaerholzbau has its roots on the Mühlebach in Grossdietwil, where its ancestors already operated a mill and later a sawmill. Today, the company operates at three locations and serves the entire spectrum of wood processing from cutting the logs to construction and detail work, i.e. the entire process from tree to building. The production facility in Malters has a sawmill with edging equipment including a planing mill and supplies the other branches with timber from tree trunks in the region. At the headquarters in Altbüron, entire exterior and interior walls, roof structures and floor elements for buildings are sometimes produced. However, the company not only produces, but also plans. Over time, the company has developed into a full-service provider and has an interdisciplinary network of craftsmen, contractors, architects and construction managers. The focus of the Grossdietwil workshop is now on interior fittings. Kitchens, staircases, doors, cupboards and other components of interior fittings, including air-conditioning technology, are produced in the modern joinery. Schaerholzbau is a pioneer in sustainability and generates more electricity and heating energy than it consumes itself thanks to photovoltaic systems, woodchip firing systems and a small hydroelectric power plant.

New CNC machining centre increases productivity

In addition to efforts for sustainable production with a self-sufficient energy budget, the company continuously invests in advanced and efficient manufacturing. At the beginning of the year, the machinery of the production plant in Grossdietwil was expanded with a nesting CNC-controlled work centre incl. a stacker table. The state-of-the-art machine from the manufacturer Biesse performs a variety of nesting tasks in wood processing, such as milling, drilling and cutting. The newly acquired machine serves as a support for the existing 5-axis CNC machine. Compared to the latter, the new machining centre has the great advantage that it can process several consecutive operations or several workpieces simultaneously within a short time, which massively increases productivity.

In addition to the machining centre, the expansion also includes a cantilever rack and a GIS crane system with a shelf storage operation unit. The wooden boards arriving by lorry are stowed in the rack with the side stacker. When it is time for machining, the panel is lifted out of the rack with the stacker crane, transported effortlessly to the work table of the CNC machine, aligned and placed.

Fast and easy material handling thanks to GIS crane system

The crane system in use consists of hollow profiles and components from the GISKB crane construction kit. With a crane girder length of 6.4 m and a runway length of 15 m, it provides access to the area around the entrance gate, cantilever rack and CNC machining centre. The crane runway was suspended laterally from the wooden trusses of the roof structure by means of rigid suspensions. The heart of the crane system is the storage and retrieval unit with integrated side channel blower. By means of a vacuum, the goods to be transported can be safely sucked in through two suction surfaces. The stacker crane gently lifts panels and workpieces with airtight and slightly air-permeable surfaces weighing up to 220 kg at two speeds. A GP500/1NF electric chain hoist built into the lifting tower is responsible for this.

Thanks to a ball-bearing turntable, each load can be rotated manually through 360° with ease. This feature is particularly noticeable when placing the wooden boards on the worktable, as the CNC machining centre is at an angle in the room due to local conditions and not parallel to the shelf. The design with the lifting tower allows the load to be guided precisely and comfortably at all times without swinging. The longitudinal movement for shifting between the rack and the machine is done electrically, while the transverse movement for aligning the suction surface or the sucked-in load is done manually. The shelf storage operation unit also has a tilting function that allows the transported goods to be turned through 90° electrically. This is helpful for inspecting the back of the timber or for placing panels upright on a trolley. All functions are conveniently controlled via the ergonomic operating unit on the lifting tower.

Years of cooperation in partnership

Thanks to the crane system, one person can now load the CNC machining centre quickly and with little effort. The Swiss chain hoist and crane manufacturer GIS AG designed as well as manufactured this lever solution with storage and retrieval unit. Walking through the production halls of schaerholzbau, one can see some GIS equipment that is used for loading the machines as well as for the internal transport of goods. In addition to the geographical proximity of only a few kilometres between Grossdietwil and Schötz, the two companies are linked by an innovative business culture and many years of cooperation based on partnership, which have led to a successful, solution-oriented result.

Technical data / fact sheet

GISKB double-bridge suspended crane with shelf storage operation unit

Lifting capacity

220 kg (storage and retrieval unit) / 1000 kg (GISKB suspension crane)

Crane runway length

15.5 m

Crane bridge length

4 m


Rigid suspensions for lateral mounting on wooden trusses

Lifting height

4 m

Cross travel


Long travel

Electric, with frequency-controlled trolley drive, travel speeds 5 - 35 m/min infinitely variable

Power supply

Busbars IP54 for crane runway and crane girder

Electric chain hoist

GP500/1NF, lifting speed 8/2 m/min

Storage and retrieval unit
  • Lifting tower with rotating device, rotation range 360°
  • Vacuum turbine, with 2 suction surfaces 1020x300x30 mm
  • Electric tilting 90°


Control panel on the lifting tower:
Control of lifting movement, crane movement, vacuum pump on-off, ejection and emergency stop


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A GIS crane system with storage and retrieval unit ensures that the wooden boards are quickly and effortlessly transferred from the cantilever rack to the work table of the machine
The wooden boards are lifted out of the cantilever rack with the storage and retrieval device
Wooden panel is placed on work table of Nesting CNC-controlled work centre



Products in use

This report is about the following products

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