The SCM Group will be present at the Dresden Möbeltage Conference to present innovations that meet the changing needs of consumers. Christian Terfruechte, a process manager, will present an overview of strengths and issues in the European furniture market. He will also illustrate a number of new production and business models from the SCM Group.
Companies now need to offer price-competitive, customised and sustainable products as consumer needs evolve. Customised mass production is the answer, which would mean using flexible, integrated systems that can manage Batch-One production processes.
Christian Terfruechte, a process manager from SCM Group
Such a production model suits furniture manufacturers who own an e-commerce channel. About two-thirds of consumers now buy products online. E-commerce has grown steadily at 16 percent annually.
The industry has also decentralised distribution production. Materials and equipment are now distributed in smaller production departments that are more flexible and closer to the end customer.
These new production methods are made possible thanks to developments in information and communications technology (ICT) and cloud computing. Implementing these models requires digital manufacturing, which is most commonly used in CNC machines, 3D printers and laser cutters.
A concept that has gained popularity is “Industry 4.0”, which is based on Cyber Physical Systems (CPS), computer systems that can constantly interact with physical systems. Computers have self-learning capabilities, creating smart factories that are highly automated and can run production processes that are closely monitored. This reduces production costs and workplace injuries. It also optimises use of resources.
Europe’s furniture market employ over one million people across 130,000 companies, earning EUR 96 billion in revenue. It is one of the most important sectors in European manufacturing, with a large export volume.
A new possible answer: The Close-to-Customer Project
SCM’s Close-to-Customer (CTC) project is a practical example of flexible and local production of custom and “green” furniture. The project began in 2016 and calls for the production of custom furniture retailed directly in shopping malls.
In practice, the CTC system goes into action when a customer enters the shopping mall. Here, with the support of an operator using an intuitive product configurator, consumers can select and customise the furniture they wish to buy. Once an order has been generated, it is sent to a mini-workshop located inside the mall, for production. Upon product completion it is delivered to the customer.
It is a system that sounds very simple but that requires a lot of work in terms of innovation and research, to allow software applications and machines to interact in a precise and flexible manner. The “heart” of this project is a production cell where a machining centre interacts with a robot which, without requiring any human intervention, can perform all machining operations
Judging from the comments from consumers, the CTC concept was rated innovative and interesting, the configuration simple and intuitive, production and delivery times acceptable when not exceeding a week, and prices moderate for a custom product.
LIGNA 2017: Integrated cell for custom manufacturing
At LIGNA this year, SCM will show a robot-run cell for producing furniture components. The system’s capacity is approximately 8-10 sets per shift. It is an automated system, where control over the entire process – from standard panels to finished pieces – is absolute. It is a solution that stands out for its low operational costs, as it requires only a single operator.
Cell system to be presented at LIGNA 2017
This entire process is run by the Maestro Watch software system, which oversees all production phases from the issuing of the order to distributing the proper programmes to the machines. The Watch supervision system, a typical Industry 4.0 element, is designed to be “open” to customers’ ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) data systems.
This solution enables calculation of exact flows and processing times, ensuring a fast and reliable return on investment. This cell system fully satisfies the OEE and MES specifications.