The company's Innovation Center is the showcase for new, patent-pending technologies and smart Industry 4.0 applications that will impact the furniture sector in the coming years. Trade professionals can form an impression of what the future of data and information flows will look like, and what the next steps in networking might be. A 180° cinema offers an unusual look at tomorrow's furniture production and illuminates this topic from a novel perspective.

A complex system for one-off production will demonstrate today's ultramodern furniture manufacturing in action. One key component of the high-tech system is flat storage, which can handle a wide range of materials from plastic and Plexiglas to laminates, as well as coated and uncoated panels. At the heart of the one-off system is an edging unit which produces kitchen elements live in various sizes, colors and materials. A complete CNC cell with robotic feed is used to process the front panels. Latest-generation cell management links all the machines in the one-off system to ensure a uniform standard between different cells and increase efficiency. For users this means another step into the future of networked production, towards Industry 4.0.

A glimpse into the future of smart products illustrates the potential benefits of complete system networking for customers. Today already, for example, end customers can configure their kitchen individually with their dealer, to be manufactured as a single batch on a networked system. And just a few days later their kitchen is ready to be installed at their home. Efficient customer support is ensured by smart services that can already resolve 90% of service issues online.

In the quest for ever greater efficiency and flexibility, the focus is moving beyond a “machinery-only” mentality to also take the human factor into account. The idea is for factory workers to be able to switch from one work station to another, spending less time with any given machine, and that any possible errors or slowdowns caused by operators will be minimized . How this works in practice – for blank cutting, for example – is explained by Wolfgang Augsten, Director of Business Unit Panel Dividing at HOMAG Group: “Up until now, the production process was driven by the saw, which required specific actions by the machine operator. We want to turn this around so that the saw reacts intelligently to the operator's movements and supports them optimally.”

This poses a whole series of questions: For example, how can the machine operator's efforts be further minimized – during cutting as well as for servicing and maintenance? Could the panel dividing saws calibrate themselves and adjust flexibly to any material? How can the operator stay on top of things as speed and functionality increase, and recognize what needs to be done when? HOMAG provides an answer with its unstacking concept, which displays the next processing steps and visualizes the parts which need to be buffered. The operators can also see on the monitor exactly which parts they must unstack on which pallet, and how. The LED Operator Assistance System takes things even further, with not only the monitor indicating the next step, but also an LED band directly on the cutting line. That way the machine operator can focus on his/her work, and hardly needs to look at the monitor during cutting.

Machine control of the saws is also increasingly operator-focused. Upon request, the HOMAG Group can show interested tradeshow visitors two concept studies that offer a look into the future of panel dividing technology and demonstrate how the wave of digital transformation is taking machine operation to the age of Industry 4.0. Both concept studies represent concrete development projects and describe engineering ideas that could dramatically simplify daily work – in industrial manufacturing as well as in smaller businesses.