Machine tool and laser manufacturer Trumpf is building a demonstration factory in Chicago that is completely designed around industry 4.0 solutions. The digitally connected production plant will demonstrate the interaction of people, machines, storage equipment and automation software.
The new plant will focus on delivering the entire ‘sheet metal process chain’ – from ordering of a sheet metal part to its design, production and delivery, with each step being intelligently interlinked. Unlike the classic show rooms of the Trumpf Group, where the emphasis lies on individual machines, the Chicago plant will be focusing on the entire customer process, complete with material and information flow.
Trumpf’s current Industry 4.0 units are offered under the name TruConnect. The Chicago plant will incorporate all the key TruConnect modules, enabling comprehensive demonstration of production according to the principles of Industry 4.0. The production line at the factory has been designed so that the entire production process can be carried out - that is, customers at Trumpf in Chicago can dispatch their own orders. Trumpf's industry 4.0 developments were on display at Blechexpo last year.
The demo factory will have an initial staff of around 30 employees and will focus on sheet metal fabrication. The main target group is small and medium-sized job shops who are just starting out with digital connectivity. Their requirements, and findings from production, will be collected in the development offices on-site and then made available to the central R&D departments of the Trumpf Group. Also important in this regard is the experience of entirely new Industry 4.0 business models such as capacity pooling, which can be systematically gathered within the fully connected factory.
Chicago was chosen as the location for the new demo factory because it lies at the heart of the North American market for sheet metal processing. The directly adjacent states contain around 40 per cent of the country's entire sheet metal working industry. Proximity to the second-largest airport in the US also makes the new Trumpf subsidiary easily accessible, both nationally and internationally.
The architecture of the new site helps demonstrate Trumpf’s Industry 4.0 solutions to visitors and customers. The ‘Control Center’ - a command centre with large display areas - makes various process parameters available to visitors in real time. A bird's-eye view of the factory reveals a catwalk, the so-called ‘Skywalk’: Spanning the full length of the 55-metre-long hall, with its material and information flow, it emphasises the fact that the production facilities constitute a single, overall system. The Skywalk is part of the cantilevered ceiling structure that is manufactured by a Trumpf customer in Atlanta.
With construction costs estimated at about €13 million, the demo factory was designed by the Berlin architectural office of Barkow Leibinger, and its official opening is planned for the summer of 2017.