Lights out, diodes on
133 years after its invention, the incandescent bulb is reaching its demise – a revolution in lamp design. Erich Ludwig Jr. already knows how he will be meeting this challenge.
Erich Ludwig guides his visitors among the machinery in the sheet metal manufacturing section. Looking at new and older models, this manufacturing expert and managing partner at Ludwig Leuchten in Mering, Bavaria, stresses: “Here we take good care of our time-tested gems. Given the enormous technological change in our industry, any investment I make today might tomorrow prove to have been the wrong move.” His company is facing the greatest challenge in its history.
The “demise of the incandescent bulb”, ordered by the European Union, is something of an industrial revolution. Bulky tungsten bulbs will largely be replaced by light-emitting diodes — LEDs — flat as a strip of masking tape. That represents a challenge for the lamp designer. His expertise is essential when using the new light source. There are two major areas of interest: light direction and deflection measures for uniform, glare-free illumination and sophisticated thermal management for quick heat dissipation. Erich Ludwig knows that a LED circuit board has to disperse waste heat rapidly. He is quite aware that new knowledge is needed.
Where the electrician was the perfect choice in the past, electronics engineers are needed today. And while implementation used to be strictly regulated by an exhaustive set of standards, today there is unimaginable leeway — and enormous variety. His product line includes about 4,500 items and eighty to one hundred of them are redesigned each day. Ludwig: “We use a modularized system, of course. But individualization is increasing dramatically. At the very outside, the housing for the recessed ceiling lamp is still standard. The lamp itself, however, is custom designed for each project.”
Simple and safe
He cannot yet definitively say what that means for the mix of machinery he needs for sheet metal manufacturing. But he does know exactly what direction the industry is taking. Parts are becoming smaller and more intricate. At the same time the need for software-based networking within and among processes is growing. That is why machine operation has to be simplified. Ludwig stresses: “Our work has to be faster, better and simpler in every regard.”
His striving for greater simplicity seems surprising at first glance, but this approach is derived from day-to-day practice. “Every lamp has to be construction-site-proof.” The unit has to be designed so that nothing can go wrong, even if unskilled laborers are mounting the lamps on site. From his point of view, the user interfaces at the sheet metal processing machines should be just as practical. They should make it possible to fabricate the perfect component — simply, quickly and unequivocally. That is why he is so excited about the modern touch screen for the TruBend 7036. “Machinery operation needs to be simpler and thus more reliable. Ultimately, the number of skilled people is finite.”
The intuitive and interactive user interface in his newest equipment is, for Ludwig, the path to the future. Those interfaces actually guide the operator every step of the way. They are self-explanatory and absolutely reliable. When bending, for instance, the 3D visualizer shows correct execution. Together with the electric drive concept, this small but fast press brake is a source of productivity for Ludwig. “Particularly when working aluminum sheet up to 0.3 millimeter thick, you don’t have to move tons of steel in a press beam. Here the TruBend 7036 achieves genuine energy efficiency.”
Ludwig is expecting fairly short production runs after the leap into the LED era. Maximum flexibility will be needed in regard to the material thickness. The design department lays the groundwork here, and Ludwig has to find the right machinery. This take-charge business- man knows the machinery market from the ground up and knows all about the new innovations. Thus he is well prepared, plans his investments carefully, and chooses just the right moment to place an order. He will continue to turn to Ditzingen or Pasching — the TRUMPF bending competence center in Austria, because he’s thoroughly convinced by both the products and the service. And a fully automated bending cell is next on his wish list.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in summer 2012.