The leading machine tool manufacturer and Industry 4.0 pioneer TRUMPF has opened a new technology center in Chicago. It is the first smart factory for Industry 4.0 solutions that was designed for digitally connected production processes throughout.
Investments for the facility, which covers more than 50,000 square feet, totaled 13 million euros in construction investment and 13 million euros in equipment investment. 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, America is one of the most important markets there is. 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 forward connected production in the Industry 4.0 era,” said Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller, Chief Executive Officer of the TRUMPF Group, at the opening of the smart factory before 250 invited guests.
The TRUMPF 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 55 meters in length 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 enabling those who stand on it to comprehend 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 its sales in the American market by 14 percent in the past fiscal year, to 421 million euros – making the U.S. the company’s second-largest market after Germany. The company plans to continue expanding in this market over the long term. Opening the smart factory in Chicago was a key milestone in this endeavor. In this regard, Leibinger-Kammüller warned against protectionist tendencies: “Our industry needs free markets like people need air to breathe. Free and fair trade as well as the exchange of specialists and talented individuals are the only way to improve the standard of living for all people – whether in the U.S., in Germany or elsewhere in the world.”