Leading up to the Laser Institute of America’s 50th Anniversary in 2018, I decided to visit longtime industry partners around the country to get a firsthand look at innovations within the laser
industry. I was impressed with many of our allies; advancements in the additive manufacturing industry, significant leadership shifts and refreshing concepts seemed to be the common narrative. However, one company took the cake when I visited their 50,000 sq. ft. technology center in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, Nov. 2017. TRUMPF GmbH, a laser systems manufacturer based in Germany, designed and built this $30 million USD manufacturing facility with the future in mind.
Their state of the art manufacturing and consulting location will educate costumers interested in digitally connected production while showcasing Industry 4.0 Solutions. During my tour of the facility, Jens Kappes, the chief engineer of the Smart Factory, explained that the factory is designed to produce parts using the latest production technologies and strategies.
“TRUMPF Inc. always strives to find new ways to innovate and stay at the forefront of Industry 4.0,” said Kappes. “The TRUMPF Smart Factory is not only a showroom, but also a production site focusing on the entire sheet metal process chain. Every machine is important, but creating an optimized process where everything works together is what we call TruConnect, and critical to an Industry 4.0 facility. The ultimate goal of the Smart Factory is to help our customers introduce digitally connected production solutions into their own facilities. Our Smart Factory intelligently connects the entire sheet metal process chain, and not only improves our own processes but serves as a model for customers to improve their own.”
The organization chose prime real-estate, because according to their website, approximately 40 percent of North America’s sheet metal is processed in the Midwest. This means TRUMPF GmbH
can better serve customers in the U.S., which is the company’s second largest market after Germany.
The custom built edifice is unique because its architectural design is directly tied to its day-to-day functionally. They didn’t build this beautiful structure to house production, they built it to monitor, adjust and appreciate production in its entirety. It features a self-supporting steel ceiling covering a 55 meter production hall; skywalks that offer a birds eye view; and a futuristic control room that would make Tony Stark proud.
“It was a pleasure to have Jim visit our facility in Illinois and learn about our technology,” said Tobias Reuther, director of TRUMPF’s Smart Factory. “The relationships we foster and maintain with other organizations are important to us. They’re not only critical to our success, but to driving education and growth within our industry.”
I have visited many of TRUMPF’s facilities around the word and each time I leave, I say to myself, “Wow! That’s how you do it!”
From customer service to production ingenuity; Illinois is no different. It truly represents what the future of manufacturing will be and you can see it working to perfection. It’s a must visit for all manufacturing enthusiasts, laser focused or not.
For more information about TRUMPF visit: https://www.trumpf.com/en_US/