Christian Pfeiffer, head of the Ligna department said: “The challenge is to create optimal control architecture to meet the complex requirements of the smart factory. This means order receipt, planning, manufacturing, logistics and distribution as well as vertical integration, from the raw materials used right on up to the end of the product lifecycle”.

Changing conditions are forcing the wood and furniture industries to adapt in many ways. For example, market demand for one-off production is on the rise, and industry needs to deliver on this without compromising quality, efficiency or flexibility. The same goes for optimising resource consumption and the long-term traceability of the materials used. To meet these and other challenges, it is essential that wood and furniture industry professionals develop suitably networked and integrated approaches to manufacturing.

Custom production of one-off furniture items requires a high degree of process reliability. System availability, throughput speed, and processing performance must be in tune to ensure quality and efficiency. This requires very precise measurement technology as well as a high degree of automation. Each individual assembly needs to perform dependably, and communication between the various machines has to be seamless, right on through to the planning and marketing phases.

Smart automation solutions in the wood and furniture industry can enable manufacturing facilities to autonomously predict tool wear in advance, reduce emissions, optimise energy consumption through tailored assembly control, and prevent production flaws. Downtimes, manual adjustments and scrap are minimised, machine operating convenience and service life are improved, through-times are optimized, and productivity and energy efficiency raised – all without higher automation technology costs.

Smart automation technology thus contributes significantly to making furniture manufacturing more flexible, efficient and sustainable. Already today, existing and new plants can be equipped with the core technology, which is PC-based and open system. Thanks to advanced telecommunications, data from every link of the production planning and manufacturing chain can be seamlessly exchanged in real time. Automation specialists are already working closely with their partners on promising new concepts, using a combination of leading-edge hardware and software to develop smart, high-performance system solutions that can connect to processing facilities with minimal custom programming.