German injection molding machine manufacturer Arburg GmbH & Co. KG is among 16 of the latest recipients of the "100 Centers of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg" award, an initiative of the "Industry 4.0 Alliance for Baden-Württemberg" network to honor "flagship projects for manufacturing of the future" — companies who have actively embraced the opportunities posed by Industry 4.0.
At the award ceremony, State Secretary for Economic Affairs Katrin Schütz praised the family-owned plastics machinery manufacturer for its “outstanding innovative strength,” and noted that "the production of 'smart' luggage tags offers impressive proof of how Arburg products can be used to implement Industry 4.0 in practice."
Calling the company one of the “pioneers in the implementation of "Industry 4.0," she commented that the judges had been impressed by the demonstrated concept of flexible high-volume production of single-unit batches.
The "Industry 4.0 Alliance for Baden-Württemberg" network initiative seeks to pool expertise in production, information and communication technology, by bringing key players and small and medium-sized enterprises together, to promote the transition towards Industry 4.0 through innovative information-sharing initiatives. The "100 Centers of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg" competition honors forward-looking companies who have demonstrated that they have taken successful steps or developed solutions in this area.
“Our aim with this award is to promote tangible solutions from the region, which create added value,” Schütz said. She added: “The aim is to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises in particular to actively exploit the real opportunities offered by Industry 4.0.”
Arburg received the "100 Centers of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg" award in the "New Software/Networking Solutions" and "New Production Process" categories.
The solution the company showed was the flexible, automated, IT-networked and spatially distributed production of "smart" luggage tags, which demonstrated how mass customization can be achieved relatively simply by combining injection molding and additive manufacturing — without sacrificing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness offered by high-volume production. An Allrounder injection molding machine, a Freeformer for industrial additive manufacturing, as well as automation and IT solutions from Arburg form a flexible cyberphysical production system.
By fitting the injection molded product produced on the Allrounder with an individual NFC chip, it becomes the data and information carrier, controlling all further production operations to become a one-off part. The product communicates with the machines at the various production stations, knows its own history and status, as well as navigating its own path through the process chain. The individual plastic design is applied in an additive process using the Freeformer. The various stations are all connected via Arburg's proprietary ALS host computer system, which records the product, process and quality data and transmits it to a web server. In the "luggage tag" example, each part has its own website. The data for each component can be retrieved and traced at any time, even after many years.