2019 International Tech Tour is a Wrap


Manufacturing executives from 18 North American companies traveled to Europe for the 2019 International Technology Tour in early April. The annual trip is organized by technology providers and is designed to help manufacturers break away from the daily routine and discover new technologies and strategies to improve their operations. 

Tech Tour

Arriving in Munich, the group spent six days visiting world-class manufacturing facilities in Germany, Switzerland and Italy.This region is home to many leading suppliers of precision machine tools, tooling and related equipment. In one week, they visited BIG KAISER, Speroni, HEIDENHAIN, GROB Systems and Blaser Swisslube. Each day-long visit was comprised of technical seminars, live demonstrations and behind-the-scenes facility tours. 

“We discovered something new every day. Not only about the products and expertise offered by our National Associate members, but also how manufacturers around the world approach our common challenges. They gave us new insight into training, improving workflows and integrating automation, for example,” said James Mayer, national accounts manager, National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA). 

Between the factory visits, the group enjoyed Bavarian, Swiss and Italian hospitality, sightseeing, and networking with new friends from across the United States and Canada. 

“It was an absolute privilege to visit and experience five world-class companies as a means of understanding the evolution of their technology, history, training, values and culture. This was an incredible opportunity to be with a group of business owners from across North America who have an unparalleled passion for precision manufacturing at a world-class level. Traveling together for a week not only created a high level of camaraderie but also produced an environment conducive to freely exchanging business ideas and philosophies,” said Robert Cattle, executive director, Canadian Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA).  

Facility Tours & Highlights
The group traveled to BIG KAISER, near Zurich, to learn about the Swiss obsession with precision manufacturing. A hands-on demonstration in the technical center showed the benefits of digitally adjusted tools for boring applications, plus the smartphone/tablet app that communicates with connected tools and stores tool data. With an emphasis on the technology theme, BIG KAISER revealed development of a new boring head capable of fully automatic adjustments as part of the machining program. A highlight of the facility tour was the smart factory cell, showing a full integration of material storage, robot loading and production scheduling in one machining cell, with fully integrated tool management and presetting from Speroni. 

Tech tour at BIG KAISER

The group weathered an April snowstorm and travel delays to arrive in Milan and tour Speroni SPA, a manufacturer of tool management systems offered by BIG KAISER in North America. Before and during the facility tour, the Speroni team explained how offline tool measurement increases spindle uptime, extends tool life and improves part quality. For optimal tool management, Speroni’s INTELLIGO software solution delivers Industry 4.0 connectivity, sharing tool data between the presetter and machines, CAM systems and tool storage in a central knowledge database. 

Future Technology Tour Events
This 5th annual International Technology Tour was possible due to the support of the participating sponsors, the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) and the Canadian Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA). For information about upcoming events, visit www.ntma.org or www.ctma.com

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