It is good to meet with people in person again, in the very buildings where technology advancements happen and run.
Walk into the Trumpf Smart Factory in Hoffman Estates, IL and you will get a strong sense of modern design. Make no mistake, though, the well-appointed building houses a working factory with some of the latest offerings from the Farmington, CT-based machine tool and laser maker. (See related stories Trumpf TruLaser Center 7030: Under the Hood and Trumpf TruArc Weld 1000: Under the Hood for brief technical looks at these products.)
Because the whole idea of the Smart Factory is showing off the reality of the connected, managed shop, one sees some up-to-the-minute solutions, and probably a thing or two that won’t come to a fabricating shop very soon.
The building lends itself to tours. Before you get to the machines on the main level, you go upstairs to see the control room, with two employees running the management consoles (see below). Additionally, note the catwalk over the factory floor.
Larger and more progressive fabricators are starting to see the wisdom in such a setup. However, the Smart Factory experience diverges from most job shops or OEM locations with a touch-sensitive, holograph-style, oversized console that works with real-time information. Bob Leahy, Trumpf Smart Factory’s Customer and Central Services Manager, take us for a virtual spin around the shop floor:
And here’s yet another way to look at the management information on a different set of monitors up in the management crow’s nest:
The last part of Leahy’s introduction to the management consoles shows the breadth and depth of data collection vis a vis each job at hand. And, significantly, not a scrap of paper to be found. If you look up at the ceiling, you see lots of wireless connectivity satellites (see below). These satellites track the data from the puck-shaped markers that are coupled to production orders. The data feeds all the information back into the various management systems.
Up in the shop floor viewing area, one can see how the material automation runs through the middle of the laser/punch area on the left (showing the TruMatic 6000 punch) and the TrueLaser 7030 on the right. Between it all is the material that the machines along the spine need, and the automation to move it, as shown below.
Other machines that do bending, finishing, and welding, sit across an aisle from the 7030, since these are fed by other machines, not the automated sheet mechanism.
During our visit, customers were doing some proof-of-concept work in the bending area. It’s a busy place, it’s a real-life workspace, and I’m glad to be out there again.
More information: https://www.trumpf.com/en_US/solutions/smartfactory/chicago/