– LIGNA showcases “integrated manufacturing” for the timber and furniture industries
– abaco Informationssysteme GmbH presents RFID Factory
Hannover - The greater the competition, the more consumers expect for their money. On the one hand, they want products that meet their specific needs and therefore necessitate small or even single-lot production runs. On the other, they still expect low prices and short turnaround times. But don’t manufacturers demand exactly the same of their own suppliers? Especially in industrialized, high-wage countries, intelligently integrated and well-engineered manufacturing and logistics processes for the furniture industry are opening up exciting new opportunities for success.
Evolution might seem like a long and very gradual process, but in reality it tends to progress in short, intermittent bursts. And often, revolutionary innovations are born out of the fusion of mature but traditionally separate technologies. Paradigms shift. Opportunities and risks are redistributed. That’s what happens when automation and information technologies are systematically integrated beyond the immediate scope of plant mechatronics.
The automotive industry is still at the forefront of this trend, where the ultimate goal is complete knowledge-based integration, horizontally and vertically, of manufacturing systems and value-added networks – in the best case with harmonized engineering that encompasses the entire product lifecycle. A new generation of processes that are knowledge-integrated with cross-company, global value networks is giving rise to radical new business models that can provide a much-needed competitive edge.
Many industries are following this trend, including the furniture industry. Furniture manufacturers have to respond to increasingly fragmented markets and customer demands for ever-shorter turnaround times and highly customized products and services. To survive, they need to offer a greater variety of products, reduce the size of their production runs and increase their throughput speeds. These commercial realities are also putting pressure on technology providers. Modern plant, machinery and IT systems need to be capable of responding flexibly to changing consumer demand relative to both quantity and quality. There’s also increasing pressure to minimize tied-up capital and reduce stock levels across all parts of the value network. Manufacturers, particularly those in high-wage countries that compete internationally, stand to profit from the integrated manufacturing approach, which offers numerous benefits, including greater process security, increased flexibility, and improved energy and resource efficiency due to the ability of plant and machinery to self-optimize, self-configure and self-diagnose.
The best way of finding solutions to complex problems
Self-learning systems, intelligent sensors and actuators, smart factories, the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems: these are just some of the catchwords that describe our industrial future. But how, specifically, can manufacturers reduce processing and delivery timeframes? How can production processes be organized in such a way that custom-tailored products cost no more to make than their mass-produced counterparts? Every mistake during processing is costly and delays delivery of the final product. But what if there were “smart” tools for furniture manufacturing operations that could self-correct wear-related deviations from the specified dimensions? Do such tools already exist, or are they just wishful thinking? Finding the answers to these questions is all but impossible in the absence of market transparency. And that’s where trade fairs come into play.
Automation systems have been an integral part of LIGNA’s holistic technology offering for many years. The fair features both exhibitors who incorporate such systems into their processing machines and exhibitors who develop and supply the actual automation components.
Christian Pfeiffer, LIGNA Director at Deutsche Messe: “Taking an integrated manufacturing approach will increasingly become critical to the long-term survival of any furniture company that’s exposed to global competition. The world’s top machinery and automation systems suppliers have already developed many groundbreaking innovations in this space that give us a very clear indication of which way things are heading. As the world’s leading fair for the forestry, timber and furniture industries, LIGNA is ideally positioned to help industry professionals navigate the very complex technologies involved and to convey the resulting challenges and opportunities in an easy-to-understand fashion to a wide audience. We will continue to listen closely to and take guidance from manufacturers as we chart the future development of the show and decide how best to present both the myriad possibilities and the limitations of the latest innovations in an accessible fashion.”
As of 2015, the world’s No. 1 platform for future-defining process solutions for the timber and furniture industries will be featured in the new “Smart Manufacturing” display. The Integrated Manufacturing display will put the spotlight on smart and fully integrated production systems for the value networks of the wood processing and woodworking industries. There, visiting furniture industry professionals, in particular, can expect to see a whole range of new and highly innovative manufacturing concepts and solutions.
One section of the new display area will deal with the question of how materials and products within the value chain can be securely tagged with relevant information. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology offers one possible solution. From 11 to 15 May 2015, LIGNA partner abaco Informationssysteme GmbH will stage the RFID-Factory display in Hall 17. Visitors to the 500-square-meter (5,380 sq. ft.) interactive exhibit will be able take a captivating tour of a fully integrated supply chain, from start to finish. The exhibit comprises nine segments featuring various partners – from freshly felled tree to timber processing, woodworking and furniture component production, furniture manufacturing, logistics services and retailing, right through to the fully assembled piece of furniture in the customer’s home.
Adjacent to the interactive RFID exhibit, the organizers are planning a group display featuring innovative integrated manufacturing solutions that are specifically designed to meet the needs of the furniture industry. Visitors will be able go on guided tours of key Smart Manufacturing exhibits on each of the five trade fair days. And in the run-up to LIGNA 2015, at the end of November 2014, an Expert Summit event will generate plenty of dialogue and fresh ideas.
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