Hannover -- Custom products in industrial mass production and single-unit batch size as an organizational and manufacturing goal – these visions have beckoned for some time already. The reality? Incomplete deliveries, missing parts, production downtime due to stock problems with feed materials, etc., continue to make life difficult for the woodworking and furniture industry. Real-world examples at LIGNA show that smart networked furniture production is no longer out of reach, even for small businesses.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems promise to continuously improve the efficiency of operating processes. But they can only achieve this to the extent that their instantaneous data matches the real situation in production, inventory, order entry and delivery. Real-time traceability is thus a crucial input factor for ERP systems, and the perfect tool for meeting multidimensional traceability requirements along the entire networked process chain is radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology.

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Traceability with RFID revolutionizes furniture production

LIGNA (11–15 May) shines the spotlight on smart, networked manufacturing systems for the woodworking and furniture industry and gives innovative RFID technology its own stage. In the RFID Factory (Hall 17, Stand D60), LIGNA partner Abaco Informationssysteme (Löhne, Germany) and 20 other specialists are presenting traceability technology for every link in the chain, on 600 m² of exhibition space. Their displays will underscore the huge value-adding potential of this technology thanks to its ability to generate real-time data as input for planning systems. Abaco CEO Horst Koitka: “The more often an RFID tag is read, the more cost-effective the system and the more useful the information gathered from it.” Prestigious specialists exhibiting alongside abaco in Hannover are Balluff, the Fraunhofer-Anwendungszentrum Industrial Automation, Lemgo, GS1 Germany, Franz Glane Maschinen- und Gerätebau, Hagemeier Neumöbellogistik, the HOMAG Group, IBM Germany, Ims Ingenieur- und Managementbüro Sauter, Logopak Systeme, Numdata Software, Pietig Lagertechnik, RK Rose+Krieger, Tarakos Software, Venjakob Maschinenbau and Wanko Informationslogistik.

Industry professionals can expect a fascinating look at every phase of a completely integrated supply chain. The entire logistics flow for furniture production is demonstrated over nine stations using the example of a drawer front: starting with a virtual freshly cut tree, to timber sawing and processing, followed by delivery to the furniture manufacturer, furniture production including all logistics services, the sales phase and finally the finished furniture item for the customer.

Abaco Informationssysteme (Löhne, Germany) offers efficient software modules for every phase of the furniture process chain, as well as implementation with the customer. Abaco even supplies furniture-specific RFID tags dubbed “Abatags.”

They are invisibly integrated into every part in the RFID Factory, which is identified automatically by the data stored on the tag as it passes through the various stations. The necessary sensors were developed by Balluff GmbH (Neuhausen a.d.F., Germany) – a global market leader in industrial automation. Oliver Pütz-Gerbig, Product Manager for RF systems in the Identification business unit, describes the advantages of real-time traceability: “Traceability means defining and tracking every step of a process chain. The production history of every manufactured part and all materials and equipment are also automatically documented – with time, location and process. All data is available in real time so that adjustments can be made during the actual production process. Traceability supports lean production, simplifies just-in-time (JIT) deliveries, facilitates legal compliance and ensures product quality.”

The mounting gates for the sensors are made by RK Rose+Krieger – Verbindungs- und Positioniersysteme (Minden, Germany). CEO Hartmut Hoffmann: “We are a leading supplier of high-quality components and functional modules for linear, profile, joining and module equipment for general industrial automation and production applications.” Several of these versatile design solutions are on display in the RFID area.

The networked manufacturing technology of the HOMAG Group (Schopfloch, Germany) comes into play in later production steps. Head of Marketing Alexander Prokisch: “Thanks to RFID, automatic wireless identification of painted smart parts is possible at any time. HOMAG Automation, HOLZMA Sägetechnik, HOMAG Holzbearbeitungssysteme and WEEKE Bohrsysteme are exhibiting smart parts in the RFID-Factory just as they might look in a smart factory – whether fully networked or not. Integrated manufacturing, universal software solutions and automation systems are the prerequisite for comprehensive networking on route to Industry 4.0.”

Internationally active Logopak Systeme (Hartenholm, Germany) demonstrates how intelligent labeling systems can support the process. Strategic Development Manager Lars Thuring explains: “With rising interest in single-unit batches and just-in-time processing, individual identification of parts and materials is gaining importance. Logopak looks forward to the opportunity to present a new RFID-based solution in this field in the LIGNA RFID Factory. Our reliable and industry-capable method offers manufacturers invisible labeling with all the associated advantages.”

Venjakob Maschinenbau (Rheda-Wiedenbrück, Germany) is a pioneer in innovative technologies for the furniture industry. Within the simulated production and logistics processes in the RFID Factory, Venjakob presents the benefits of an RFID-controlled, automatic spray painting system. Oliver Milde, Sales and Project Planning: “Every part can be assigned information for spray painting individually via the RFID tag: color changes, curing parameters and feed rates in modern painting systems can be set individually for each item at any time with the Ven Control Master control system. Venjakob shows how tags inserted into the parts can manage these parameters individually using a simulated spray paint feed system.”

Warehouse management, transport planning and control systems are the specialty of Wanko Informationslogistik (Ainring, Germany). Sandra Gitau, Marketing and PR: “Wanko is presenting its end-to-end software for warehouse, transport and telematics in the RFID-Factory at LIGNA. The Pracar delivery planning system and Prabord telematics solution support the entire transport process, and the Pramag warehouse management system controls all movements of goods. This gives the customer streamlined, efficient and continuous control of their entire transport chain, from arrival at the warehouse to delivery to the customer. The Wanko software is demonstrated live in the RFID Factory in the new furniture logistics area, showing how it meets the individual requirements of the furniture sector and specific customer needs.”

Software supplier Numdata (Eibergen, Netherlands) is presenting “Ivenza,” an innovative planning and control system for the furniture industry. Says CEO Frank Schepers: “Ivenza is a powerful, web-based 3D configurator with a reliable PPS system. It can be used to design living room, bedroom, kitchen and office furniture online in 3D, and produce it very efficiently – whether in large volumes or as one-off units. Ivenza combines the comprehensive tasks of configuration, order management and production, supplies all necessary data in real time and enables extensive data exchange, e.g. with warehouse management systems or databases such as the IBM cloud.”

The RFID Factory at LIGNA clearly demonstrates how all players can benefit from end-to-end communications enabled by RFID, which can save valuable resources and time to lower costs at every step of the furniture process chain, as well as prevent errors. To learn more, explore the RFID Factory in Hall 17 during the five days of LIGNA and approach the specialists there with all your questions. The RFID Factory will also be a central focus of the LIGNA “networked manufacturing” guided tours for professionals.

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