Digital ambition everywhere
In April TRUMPF opened its headquarters in Ditzingen to several thousand customers and visitors from all around the world. At its annual in-house INTECH trade show, the high-tech company presented its broad portfolio of products, technologies and services. As a one-stop supplier of machine tools for flexible sheet metal processing, industrial lasers and software solutions in production facilities, TRUMPF is collaborating with customers and partners on developing a wide array of applications. It uses INTECH as a platform to strengthen this symbiotic relationship and enrich it with new ideas and cooperative projects.
This year’s in-house trade show focused on TruConnect, the comprehensive, multifaceted product range for Industry 4.0 in practice by TRUMPF. How will Industry 4.0 further change day-to-day operations in production facilities? TRUMPF demonstrated the changes that await various roles, illustrating them with this scenario: The manager of a production facility connected with TruConnect can use a tablet to view real-time data on machine productivity at any time, while the machine operator can remotely control the machines with the MobileControl app and the intralogistics specialist can transfer parts in the warehouse with a mobile device. Maintenance staff can keep a constant eye on the condition of the lasers in the network and identify savings potential, thus improving the laser systems’ availability and productivity.
The basis of TruConnect is Central Link, a secure data interface, which sends information on machine production status to local ERP systems and cloud-based solutions. What’s special about Central Link is that it functions with all kinds of technologies on different types of machines. It makes it possible to easily connect offers for visualizing capacity utilization, condition, or maintenance needs of the machines and/or lasers. This makes data practical to use, boosting productivity. TRUMPF has already had initial success implementing it with its customers. In fact, at the end of February 2017, the laser specialist received the Daimler Supplier Award in the Partnership category for successfully implementing Industry 4.0 solutions in production of the current Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Photonics: A key component of Industry 4.0
“We are very happy to receive this award,” says Peter Leibinger, Vice Chairman of the Managing Board of TRUMPF GmbH + Co. KG and head of the Laser Technology/Electronics division. At the in-house trade show, he will underscore the importance of photonics and lasers for the digital transformation: “Photonics opens the door to digitalization. When we look into the factories of tomorrow, we see new camera systems based on light technologies, for example. Collaborating with one’s surroundings will become a key competence in the Internet of Things. For instance, robots will be able to move freely and safely throughout the factory as soon as they have eyes as well as intelligent algorithms that let them interpret their environment.”
Photonics has been a star of the production environment for decades: of all the tools available, lasers are the most flexible. Welding, cutting, drilling, milling, bending, hardening, breaking, marking or additive manufacturing – lasers are capable of all these applications without the need to create or modify molds or tools. “But it’s also practically impossible to envision new mobility concepts that don’t use photonics. LED vehicle lighting is just one example,” explains Leibinger. “Photonics will play a crucial role, especially with regard to self-driving cars. These rely on sensors and sign recognition solutions as well as visible and invisible lighting systems. We expect that the market for photonics alone in new mobility will be worth nine billion euros in 2020.”
Three pillars of change strategy at TRUMPF
Mathias Kammüller, Executive Vice President of TRUMPF GmbH + Co. KG and head of the Machine Tools division, also emphasizes the power of the digital transformation: “TRUMPF has set itself the goal of driving the digital transformation forward on all levels – externally as well as internally. That means that we go far beyond optimizing production processes. One of our initiatives is setting up agile development organizations. We’re doing that for software development – where we are recruiting more and more data scientists and cloud experts – but also for machine and laser development, where we are already employing agile methods.” Kammüller believes it is necessary to digitally optimize all aspects of sales as well – meaning expertise as well as technical equipment. He envisions a highly efficient, connected after-sales division; perhaps an integrated HR department. “And one thing that is downright critical if everything is to run smoothly: we want to be much more closely connected to our customers,” Kammüller says.
The change strategy at TRUMPF is based on three pillars: solutions for customers – that is TruConnect – plus offers for the entire world of manufacturing – that is AXOOM. And the third pillar is the digital transformation of its own value-adding activities. TruConnect allows TRUMPF to work together with its customers better than ever to craft tailored solutions for launching Industry 4.0 processes and products. “The first key step is to meet with us for consulting sessions, which always emphasize lean principles,” explains Kammüller. In recent months, TRUMPF specialists have advised more than 30 customers – often as part of an in-depth, five-day Smart Factory consulting package with a specific implementation strategy.
AXOOM is a digital business platform for horizontal and vertical networking. It was designed for manufacturing companies, regardless of whether or not they use TRUMPF machines. As Kammüller points out, “We’ve even received inquiries from manufacturers of chimneys or potting soil.” AXOOM will present its new product range, Axoom IoT for machine manufacturers, at the Hannover Messe. When it comes to the digital connectivity of its own value-adding activities, TRUMPF is making changes across all departments. These optimization measures are intended to have an effect on the entire order-to-cash process. “Our goal is to digitally transform the entire company within five years. At just one year in, we are well on our way. And the potential for optimization is even greater than we initially thought: we are now expecting productivity increases of far more than 30 percent and should be able to cut throughput times in half,” says Kammüller.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in Spring 2017.