Production between Industry 4.0 and Optimized Work Organization

The company visit to HOMAG Group AG in the East Westphalian town of Herzebrock-Clarholz offered the guests from India both a glimpse of the further transition of machine engineering to Industry 4.0 and an interesting example of efficient work organization in manufacturing.

One day after attending the Hannover Trade Fair, where they received an overview of the industry’s latest developments, the MP participants from India visited the machine manufacturer. At the Herzebrock location the company assembles machines for the woodworking industry that are used worldwide in the production of furniture. In addition to CNC processing centers for drilling, milling and sawing, the company also has machines for setting fittings and grinding machines in its product portfolio.

Over tea and coffee Werner Brinkhaus, the Director of Surface Processing, offered the guests insights into the company’s activities. He also explained the ideas that the HOMAG Group AG has for Industry 4.0. It was interesting for the participants to find out that there is not just one definitive “Industry 4.0”, but that each company is now trying to define the term for themselves and grow accordingly. The HOMAG Group is an example of this: There are plans to expand service and in future machine replacement parts are to be sent even before those parts break. This is to be accomplished by establishing intelligent communication between the machines and headquarters. This kind of just in time delivery of replacement parts could prevent production downtime. New business models and opportunities that they provide for machine engineering companies and their customers generated some very lively discussion.

Before leaving, the Indian guests toured the production area. The most interesting part of the tour was the in-house coordination of machine assembly, since the Herzebrock location of the HOMAG Group is continuously attempting to optimize their processes in order to increase efficiency. In addition to systems that they have developed for the organization of tools – such as spanners or drills – this also covers drawing up clear project plans for the individual machines that are accessible to everyone, as well as regular meetings between all workers involved in preproduction. By maintaining high standards of organization, job-shifting can be realized between employees. At regular intervals they can switch tasks within the production process. It was specifically the very practical implementation of organization in production that was especially interesting to the guests, because these approaches can be transferred to their home companies.

Following the exciting attempts at combining visions of the future and everyday work organization practices, the tour arrived at the showroom. Here the visitors could see for themselves how the machines that they observed being assembled can be used in real-world applications.

By Christina Morgenstern trAIDe GmbH, Cologne