Industry experts discuss the implications of Industry 4.0 for the woodworking sector.
Industry 4.0, or the complex issue of integrated manufacturing as it is more commonly referred to in North America, was the subject of the first LIGNA Conference held in Hannover, Germany on May 3-4.
Specifically, the program was designed to discuss the progress the furniture industry is making.
The sold-out event featured a who-is-who in an industry line-up of 13 speakers from various different sectors sharing their knowledge, experience and progress on their way to achieving higher levels of integration in their manufacturing businesses.
“Thanks to its sharp focus on integrated production, the premiere of the LIGNA Conference was a resounding success,” says Dr. Jochen Köckler, Member of the Managing Board at Deutsche Messe.
He added that integrated production as a key to Industry 4.0 opens up huge opportunities for furniture factories and members of the woodworking trades and that it is up to each individual to shape this process within his or her own enterprise.
Efficiency is the goal, and it is an evolution not a revolution, the experts agree. One step at a time, but speed is of the essence in this competitive world.
From IKEA to Volkswagen, Lignum to Steelcase and Jeld-Wen, to name just a few of the presenting companies, there seems to be agreement on a number of key points. Whether you sell cars, furniture or doors, whether you are a small to medium-size manufacturer or a multi-national, in order to stay ahead of the competition you must embrace technology and determine a holistic approach to integrating technology into your entire business.
Starting with the relationship with customers, your products, internal systems, suppliers, and production and of course your staff.
Day one of the conference began with an interactive presentation by Timothy Kaufmann, Business Development Internet of Things at SAP Deutschland SE & Co. KG, who examined the opportunities opened up by Industry 4.0.
In the course of the day the visitors found out more about the positive impact of Industry 4.0 on our everyday lives. Per Berggren, Manager Industrial Strategies at IKEA, demonstrated that integrated manufacturing techniques can be tailored to mass production applications – as evidenced in IKEA’s PAX wardrobe range.
The second day of the conference was devoted to examples of best practice. Olaf Katzer, head of International Job Family Development at Volkswagen AG, talked about the qualification of professionals in an Industry 4.0 environment. In his view it is essential to bear the human factor in mind, despite all the euphoria about efficiency gains, cost cutting and sustainability. The customer remains the focus of attention and is an essential factor in the overall production picture. It goes without saying that Industry 4.0 will impact the production in terms of its means, data flows and the workforce involved. He emphasized the importance of taking the necessary preparatory steps.
The LIGNA Conference concluded that Industry 4.0 is also directly relevant to small and medium-sized enterprises. However, it is essential that Sees create areas of specialization and build new networks as a prerequisite for efficient and profitable production.
A major highlight at the conference was a panel discussion on the implications of Industry 4.0 for the woodworking sector that saw industry experts - including woodworking machinery manufacturers – discuss the opportunities, applications and challenges in the wood products industry. They agreed that significant progress has already been made with the implementation of Industry 4.0 and it is a logical continuation of what manufacturers have been doing for the past 20 years. As such, it is not so much a revolution, but rather an evolution.
Throughout the two-day event, manufacturers and suppliers were available for personal meetings and discussions.