Trumpf Opens IIoT Demo Center in Chicago
Isaac Maw posted on September 15, 2017 |

German laser and machine tool maker Trumpf has opened a new Industry 4.0 showroom in Chicago, Illinois.

Rather than a typical showroom that showcases a few pieces of equipment or prototypes, the company wanted to show customers the big picture of an IoT-connected industrial process. To this end, the company built a $15 million facility that houses $15 million of equipment.

The factory ‘intelligently connects’ an entire sheet metal process chain – from the initial order for a sheet metal component to its design, manufacture and delivery.

The company selected Chicago for this project because of concerns about U.S. politics. Despite being an established manufacturer in America since 1969, with four locations and one thousand employees, Trumpf is feeling the pressure the current administration is placing on foreign trade in the manufacturing sector.

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, North America is one of the most important markets. 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 connected production in the Industry 4.0 era,” said Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller, chief executive officer of the Trumpf Group, at the facility’s opening.

The company calls the new facility a ‘smart factory,’ but the purpose of the production line is to demonstrate the utility of IoT-connectivity in a real-world situation. 

The control room and its large screens provide visitors with real-time process performance data for the current production process. (image courtesy of Trumpf.)

The control room and its large screens provide visitors with real-time process performance data for the current production process. (image courtesy of Trumpf.)

The production hall, 180 feet in length, showcases a sheet metal manufacturing line, with a high storage bay that supplies materials to the machine tools connected to it. (Image courtesy of Trumpf.)
The production hall, 180 feet in length, showcases a sheet metal manufacturing line, with a high storage bay that supplies materials to the machine tools connected to it. (Image courtesy of Trumpf.)
A skywalk spans the production hall, offering a bird’s-eye view of the factory and giving those who walk on it an overview of the production equipment, as well as their material and information flows. (Image courtesy of Trumpf.)
A skywalk spans the production hall, offering a bird’s-eye view of the factory and giving those who walk on it an overview of the production equipment, as well as their material and information flows. (Image courtesy of Trumpf.)

Trumpf increased its sales in the North American market by 14 percent in the past fiscal year, to $465 million– 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 strategic move in this endeavor.

“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,” stated Leibinger-Kammuler in a press conference. “Nationalism, as we can see only too well in Europe these days, leads to higher production costs, lower product quality and a host of other issues. And consequently, to poorer job prospects.”

Is Industry 4.0 technology the key to revitalizing the rust belt? Should the Trump administration shut out foreign trade? Let us know in the comments below.

For more information about Trumpf, visit their website.

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