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Seasonal greetings from Solingen – the best of the item blog 2020

A hectic year is drawing to a close and the holidays are around the corner… That means it is once again time for our annual review of the topics we’ve covered on the item blog in 2020.

Whether due to the coronavirus pandemic or not, digitalisation has been a headline topic this year one way or the other. Our series on digitalisation therefore simply carried on seamlessly where it had left off in 2019. Focusing on the latest trends and making some important introductions, we covered a wide range of issues related to digitalisation in mechanical engineering. The subjects ranged from the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in mechanical engineering, the use of AI in manual assembly and collaborative working practices in engineering to a comparison of CAD software and the item Engineeringtool, the war for young talent and the benefits of collaborative robots.

Fighting the pandemic with innovation

The coronavirus was naturally a key theme for 2020 on our blog, but in a different, more forward-looking way. For example, as early as April, we were able to report on our newly developed solutions for cough and sneeze protection. Sanitiser stands and numerous partitions of various types fitted with plastic panels are providing important protection for people who are unable to avoid direct personal contact.

Later in the year, we blogged about a number of carefully selected example applications, including solutions designed to protect bus drivers in Hamburg and partitions for first-year pupils at a primary school in Düsseldorf. Line XMS profiles also played their part in the production of FFP2 masks and surgical masks. The special XMS profiles were used for the enclosures on the production lines that the Jonas & Redmann Group developed in record time.

Lean Production fans get exactly what they want

From the start, the team behind the item blog has always been very keen to explore the methods of lean production. 2020 was no exception, with the very first post of the year on 8 January looking at the role of 5S and poka yoke for visual management. These two lean methods are also beneficial for the Chaku-Chaku principle we talked about in the summer. This is all about making life easier for staff by partially or fully automating the machining of workpieces and their ejection from production machinery.

After also introducing readers to Hoshin Kanri (strategic processes) and the SMED method (reducing setup times), the blog took a trip to the Chinese economic metropolis of Suzhou, where the Smart Manufacturing Labs of the Global Advanced Manufacturing Institute (GAMI) are based. GAMI and item have a close connection thanks to a strategic partnership that has lasted for many years. We were more than happy to lend our support to participants on the Lean Line Design training courses as they sought to optimise an assembly line using Profile Tube System D30.

item profile technology in Switzerland

As is customary, our blog also looked at the very different ways our profiles can be used. This year, a particular emphasis was placed on projects from Switzerland. One very special highlight was the miniature world of “Smilestones”, which is located near the picturesque Rhine Falls. Divided into two themed sections, the attraction spans a total of 155 square metres and showcases the best-known landmarks of eastern Switzerland and the world-famous Swiss mountains. The MOVEment flexible room concept also uses the item MB Building Kit System. It features in “The Jay”, an elegant apartment complex close to Zürich that is aimed primarily at young professionals who do a lot of travelling. Thanks to MOVEment technology, residents can adapt their living space to suit the time of day or their personal preference – all at the touch of a button. Over the years, we have had plenty of opportunities to show just how well our profile technology fits into the world of art and design. However, the interactive “5×14” light installation from the design agency Lucid is a particularly dazzling highlight – in the truest sense of the word. Passers-by can use their smartphones to spell out words on the installation, which is located at the entrance to St. Gallen’s town hall.

We hope that, despite all the challenges this year has brought, we’ve still been able to bring you some entertainment and inspiration. We would like to wish all the readers of the item blog, our customers and our partners a happy festive season and a great start to the new year! Stay healthy! The item blog will be back on 7 January with the first post for the new year.