A leading machine tool manufacturer and Industry 4.0 pioneer, TRUMPF GmbH (Ditzingen, Germany) has opened a new technology center in Chicago. It is the first smart factory for Industry 4.0 systems that was designed for digitally connected production processes throughout. Investments for the facility, which covers more than 50,000 sq ft, totaled $15 million in construction and another $15 million in equipment. This smart factory will focus on consulting and training its customers as they introduce digitally connected production solutions. To this end, the company designed a factory that intelligently connects the entire sheet metal process chain – from the initial order for a sheet metal component to its design, manufacture and delivery.
Chicago is at the center of the North American market for sheet metal processing. Some 40 percent of the entire sheet metal processing industry is based in directly neighboring states. “For us, North America is one of the most important markets. And in Chicago, we can present our vision for connected production to our customers in the Midwest practically at their doorstep – and work with them to drive connected production in the Industry 4.0 era,” said Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller, the chief executive officer of the TRUMPF Group, at the opening of the smart factory in front of 250 invited guests.
This smart factory boasts custom-designed architecture: The control room and its large screens provide visitors with real-time process performance data for the current production process. A production hall 180 ft long houses a connected sheet metal manufacturing line, the centerpiece of which is a high storage bay that supplies materials to the machine tools connected to it. A skywalk spans the production hall, offering a bird’s-eye view of the factory and giving those who walk on it a comprehensive view of the production systems, as well as their material and information flows as a whole. It is part of the self-supporting steel ceiling structure that was manufactured by one of TRUMPF’s customers in Atlanta. The showroom was designed by Berlin-based architecture firm Barkow Leibinger.
TRUMPF increased their sales in the North American market by 14 percent in the past fiscal year, to $465 million, making the U.S. their second-largest market after Germany. They plan to continue expanding in this market over the long term. In 2016/17, the TRUMPF Group – which has about 12,000 employees – achieved sales of $3.6 billion. With over 70 subsidiaries, they are represented in nearly all the countries of Europe, North and South America, and Asia, with production facilities in Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, the U.S., Mexico, China and Japan.
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