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Trumpf opens €26m ‘smart factory’ in Chicago

13 Sep 2017

New tech center showcases interaction between people, machines, automation, software and Industry 4.0 solutions.

Trumpf, the machine tool and laser systems manufacturer, and self-styled “Industry 4.0 pioneer”, has opened a new technology center in Chicago, Il, USA, featuring a range of laser materials processing systems among its diverse facilities. The company describes it as “the first smart factory for Industry 4.0 solutions designed for digitally connected production processes throughout”.

Investment in the facility, which covers more than 50,000 square feet, totaled €13 million in construction and another €13 million in equipment. The company said that the 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.

Trump's new factory technology center in Chicago designed by Berlin-based architecture firm Barkow Leibinger.

Trump's new factory technology center in Chicago designed by Berlin-based architecture firm Barkow Leibinger.

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 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 55m 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.

'No to US protectionism'

The company increased its sales in the American market by 14 percent in the past fiscal year, to €421 million – making the U.S. the company’s second-largest market after Germany. The company commented that it plans to continue expanding in this market over the long term: “opening the smart factory in Chicago was a key milestone in this endeavor.”

At the opening, Leibinger-Kammüller warned the 250-strong gathering against protectionist tendencies, saying: “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 US, in Germany or elsewhere in the world.

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