Woodworking made izy — new interface improves manufacturing processes

Seven leading companies in woodworking machinery, Biesse, Burkle, Homag, IMA Schelling, SCM, Weber and Weinig, have worked together as a team in defining a standardised interface to connect all their woodworking machines, machine to machine, and machines to the customers’ manufacturing execution systems. This means no individual interfaces need to be programmed, and an overall control of the production process is readily put in place. The project has been named izy, inspired by universal languages, and it has solved a communication problem in an easy and streamlined way. 

For the seven companies, this decision to team up and put aside each company’s competitive standpoint was led by providing a joint solution to their customers and by vastly improving manufacturing processes. Luca Föhn, innovation manager of Borm-Informatik, elaborated: “Established data exchange with reduced costs in a flexible way is very much needed for the industry, particularly for small-medium sized companies.”

As such, instead of having to develop several individual interfaces, which demand weeks of technical expertise to create tailored software and interface, customers can now benefit from the collective effort that the seven companies have put in, who have worked together over the past three years.

Woodworking made izy is not about individual success, but about each company’s ability to work for the greater achievement of an efficient ecosystem, where they each provide skills and know-hows from technical, engineering to marketing standpoints, interacting for the first time in an interconnected system that offers solutions needed by their customers.

Woodworking made izy was launched at the LIGNA.Innovation Network (LIGNA.IN) last Monday, 27 Sep 2021, during an interactive talk moderated by Stephanie Wagner of LIGNA and speakers Ernst Esslinger from Homag, Raphaël Prati from BIESSE, Alexander Broos from Universal Machine Technology Interface (UMATI), Michael Ober from IKEA Industry and Luca Föhn from Borm-Informatik. 

Mr Esslinger, director of systems project execution edge processing at Homag, and chairman of the Woodworking made izy Joint Working Group, has headed the technical definition of the Open Companion Specification for the woodworking industry. “Digitalisation makes everybody’s job easier,” he said. “We really had to set in place unique and efficient standards so we all now speak the same language.”

UMATI has cooperated in the process bringing together machine builders and users, and therefore created a community of industries by promoting universal standards across many sectors, including woodworking with this project.

The European Associations have endorsed and sponsored Woodworking made izy, with Eumabois, VDMA, VDW and Acimall who have facilitated and encouraged the process over the past years. “A solution on a European level was necessary for the sustainable success of the project,” said Juergen Koeppel, president of Eumabois.

VDMA, as largest network organisation and voice for mechanical engineering in Germany and Europe, has consistently provided support to the working team, reinforcing the strength of the community and recognising the value of the project from its earliest stages.