Planit checks out Interzum and Ligna

By Dylan Passmore


In May 2015, Graham Rutter & I were given the opportunity to travel to Germany for two of the world's Biggest Trade Shows for our Industry - Interzum held in Cologne, Germany and Ligna held in Hannover, Germany.

Interzum ran from the 5th - 8th of May hosting over 55,000 visitors from 143 Countries, with over 1500 exhibitors from 57 countries. Not only were all the market-leading companies represented in Cologne, but also plenty of smaller, highly innovative companies. Interzum hosts many market and trend leaders as they present their latest innovations in furniture production, interior fittings and materials used.

Some of the Key Trends on display were the Colours and Textures of the future, with a focus on functional design for furniture, both for home and office fit outs. For example, on show were Sit-to-Stand assistance mechanisms to promote health and well-being in the office and at home when working at a desk or other work surfaces. They also highlighted connectivity applications, with apps using Bluetooth and Wifi for controlling lights, locks on furniture and adjusting the height levels of desks and work surfaces. 3D Printing was also showcased, demonstrating how this technology is making inroads to many areas of our industry in production and design in particular.

Linga 2015 was run over 5 days from 11th - 15th of May. 96,000 visitors visited the most part of 1,567 exhibitors which were showcasing their cutting-edge solutions, technologies and innovative production equipment on over 120,000 square meters of display space in which there was a clear focus on integrated, high-efficiency manufacturing.

Cabinet Vision and AlphaCAM Europe were both represented at Ligna, showcasing the latest Version of Cabinet Vision and the lasting innovations from AlphaCAM. One such innovation is an add-on that has been developed by LICOM Germany called STL-Hans. Traditionally CAD programs which have their focal point on a photo-realistic rendering can often output simple parts to the machine shop, but do not have the same capability for high level design parts. The STL-Hans functionality, overcomes those issues by quickly creating accurate CNC programs from STL files. It converts the triangles into supporting edges for 3- to 5- axis CNC programming, along with drilling and sawing support. This means that complex components that were created in third party programs that weren't necessarily intended for manufacturing can now easily be imported into AlphaCAM ready for manufacturing.

From walking around the show it was clear that one of the key trends of this event was the fourth industrial revolution. The idea of industry 4.0 is very new to the Australian Market and Ligna is the 'place' where it all began. The term "Industrie 4.0" refers to the fourth industrial revolution. It originates from a project in the high-tech strategy of the German government, which promotes the computerization of manufacturing. This revolution is based on the concept of cyber-physical systems and the joining of the virtual online world to the physical. Automation is a key concept behind this revolution, and is characterised by the strong customisation of products in a highly flexible production environment.  

For the first time Linga held guided tours for visitors, presenting the highlights of solutions and innovations for integrated manufacturing in the furniture industry. Highlights from this tour included the Homag City, which showcased a wide variety of machines, from fully automatic production lines to Standard CNC Machines.

In addition to the industrial revolution 4.0, the ‘Batch Size One’ concept was a hot topic amongst all major machinery suppliers. The concept is focuses on a networked production system with an emphasis on a flexible high volume manufacturing system. Unlike traditional Mass Production Lines, ‘Batch Size One’ can produce a variety of custom size parts without compromising on production efficiencies, with high throughput of up to 2,200 individually processed parts per shit.

Another key highlight from the tour was the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) factory tour, which links in with the theme of networked production and Industry 4.0. On show were some of the latest innovations from the RFID Industry. One of these included Label -less Labels, which is a system where a small chip is inserted into the edge of the part prior to edging. Using overhead "scanners" integrated into their Software system, the system will flag if a part is missing or if a part has been misplaced into another job pile.

Moving away from Machines and Software there was a unique Tool Data Management system called iblade - Presented by LEUCO. This provides customers with a system where data stored on the device can be easily transferred to a PC and then processed either as protocols, analysis, or use and production flow optimisation.

On a lighter note Graham and Dylan visited many tourist sites over the course of the weekend in Germany. They also travelled from Germany along the Autobahn through to Belgium where they spent 2 nights in Ghent prior to driving back along the Autobahn to Hannover for the Ligna Show.

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