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spectral behind the scenes

manufactor 4.0

As soon as a phenomenon acquires the moniker “megatrend”, alarm bells should begin to sound. But when it comes to mass customisation, there is good reason to sit up and take notice. This is more than just a buzzword. This is the inescapable future of manufacturing – and it is causing many furniture makers to break out in a cold sweat. Not Spectral, however. Our smart factory in south-western Germany has already made huge leaps and bounds towards fully personalised furniture.

the pleidelsheimer smart factory

Just a few short years ago, “mass” and “customisation” were a contradiction in terms. Now, they are an everyday paradox. New production methods are allowing consumers to tailor clothes, food, furniture and much more besides to their particular preferences, and with point-and-click simplicity. More and more people are discovering selfexpression through a special mix of muesli or a pair of personalised sneakers. At Spectral, this development is being embraced with open arms. Company founders Frank and Markus Krämer, and Managing Director René Glasmacher are more than willing to let customers order madeto- measure furniture. The only snag is that conventional methods and machines are not up to the job. Typically, industrial furniture production revolves around the output of large volumes of identical parts. That guarantees efficiency and consistent results. But it is not the basis for mass customisation – and certainly not if you want to blend personalisation with outstanding quality, precision, and timely delivery. For Spectral, the solution goes by the name of Craftsmanship 4.0: the happy marriage of traditional furniture-making skills with stateof- the-art Industry 4.0 technologies.

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nobody can do it like manfred

Nothing compares to Manfred – or at least that’s what those in the know say about this saw-storage combination, where the various panels are rapidly cut to size, milled and drilled.

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manufactur 4.0

After they have been cut to shape, the items are given a unique barcode and sent on their way to the next processing phase.

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HOMAG.

»WE WENT TO HANOVER IN SEARCH OF A FASTER WORKHORSE, AND CAME BACK WITH A FORMULA 1 RACING CAR«

smart-furniture-pioneer

Let’s travel back in time to the autumn of 2014. Markus und Frank Krämer were wondering how they could prepare Spectral production processes for the challenges of the future. And they left no stone unturned in the search for solutions. One such stone was LIGNA, the international trade fair for the forestry and wood industry in Hanover, which they visited in May 2015. They were on the prowl for a new milling machine, and Hanover is the place to view the very latest kit. It was a sensible plan with a surprising and serendipitous twist. At the stand for the HOMAG Group, one of the world’s leading makers of wood-working equipment, Markus Krämer discovered something that he had long been looking for: a fully connected, digitised production plant that would allow individually crafted items of furniture to be produced on an industrial scale. Eureka. Just 15 months later, a new era dawned in the little town of Pleidelsheim. The world’s smallest mass customisation manufacturing factory went into operation, catapulting Spectral to the forefront of smart furniture. Markus Krämer recalls, “We went to Hanover in search of a faster workhorse, and came back with a Formula 1 racing car.” The fully connected and digitised manufacturing facility delivers stand-out flexibility in terms of form, function, materials and dimensions. It has opened up unprecedented possibilities. For a company that makes all its furniture to order, it was like hitting the jackpot.

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for almost every piece of furniture by Spectral is unique

In the Spectral Smart Factory classic craftsmanship is combined with state-of-theart Industry 4.0 technology.

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top-quality entertainment equipment, made in germany

Approximately 150 employees, working in one of Germany’s most modern factories, produce top-quality entertainment equipment, made in Germany.

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the italian job

»THE HUMAN FACTOR STILL PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE«

the investment in our production site in Pleidelsheim near Stuttgart is a clear recognition of our commitment to Germany as our chosen production location

Today, Spectral production is based on three key elements: powerful planning software, state-of-the-art manufacturingequipment, including end-to-end digital communication – and last, but most definitely not least, skilled staff who assemble each item of furniture by hand, paying close attention to each customer’s specific wants and needs. But we are jumping the gun a little here. The whole shebang begins with a customer and their desire for a high-end Spectral media unit. And given the vast choice of colours, materials and configurations, each unit is almost certainly going to be unique. That customer order initially makes its way to the PC operated by a Spectral planner, where the numbers are crunched and a plausibility check is performed. The result is a set of data that describes all the individual components and product specifications. Manufacturing proper begins when wooden planks in the storage area are automatically transferred to the CNC saw unit: the various panels are cut to size, milled and drilled by means of intelligent nesting software. And each component is given its own distinct identity – in the shape of a barcode that defines all downstream production tasks. This barcode then interacts with the various production tools, and “tells them what to do”. But to turn perfect parts into a perfect end-product requires (fortunately) more than bits, bytes and machines. It calls for human beings. And Spectral has quite a few of them. Our furniture continues to be made by hand by experienced craftspeople. And with especially unusual customer requests, there can be a lot of craft and graft. All this is overseen by Achim Pramschiefer. He and his team personally guide out-ofthe- ordinary customer orders through the manufacturing process. The furniture is handcrafted to the highest quality standards, and still delivered on time. At the end of the production line awaits a highly advanced packaging machine that already knows precisely how much cardboard it needs, and in what shapes and sizes. The result is made-to-measure packaging for a made-to-measure item of furniture. And a satisfied customer.

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