VDL Smart Factory

News The Smart Factory flagship project in Holland takes off

After two years of project planning, it is clear that the Smart Factory solution for VD Leegte Metaal in Hapert, Netherlands, is taking sheet metal processing to the next level.

Hapert, in the Netherlands, is the location of VD Leegte Metaal (VDL), a company with 160 employees started in 1953, which specializes in sheet metal processing and has been a Bystronic customer since 2020. Over the past two years, Bystronic, together with responsible persons at VDL, has implemented the «Smart Factory» flagship project.

According to Erik Metternich, Director of Global Key Account Management EMEA Bystronic, the project is a milestone for fully automated production. For Bystronic, this is because the project is unique to this day, and for VDL, because they can put the benefits of smart production to use. Specifically, this means: 

  • Processes can be designed with more streamlining and stability
  • Productivity and efficiency are increased
  • Flexibility is enhanced due to predictable and plannable processes 
  • High transparency along the entire supply and production chain

«The key success factor was that we were able to offer a hands-on solution for all of VD Leegte Metaal's specific requirements»

Erik Metternich

The warehouse: 

At the smart heart of the factory

The warehouse comprises 37 towers with a total of 1,395 compartments. These are serviced by two elevators. The height reaches 9.5 meters. On the left side, the warehouse is equipped with four input-output stations. These can process 24 metric tons of material per hour. To the right is the unloading station for removing cut parts, which can be carried away by automated guided vehicles (AGVs). 

The material flow between warehouse and production is fully automated. Automation delivers raw material to the laser cutting systems directly from the warehouse and sends back cut parts as required. This applies to both the Bystronic laser cutters as well as to the punching and laser cutting system Trumpf TruMatic TC6000, which is integrated into the solution. The bending cell is connected with an output station.

«The greatest challenge posed to us as part of this flagship project was the software for the complete networking of all components» 

Erik Metternich 


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VDL Smart Factory
VDL Smart Factory
VDL Smart Factory
VDL Smart Factory

The fiber lasers: 

Non-stop precision  

The Smart Factory has two completely new ByStar Fiber 3015 Dynamic Edition 15 kilowatt laser cutters at its command. Both systems are equipped with NCT and KerfScan. In addition to the standard O2 and N2 ducts, an additional high-pressure duct is prepared for connection to an N2 generator.

The loading and unloading functions as well as the sorting functions are taken over by a total of three ByTrans Modular and three BySort systems with two sorting units. The latter are optimized using a new procedure to separate up to 99.5 percent of cut parts form residual material. In addition, the cleaning of cutting tables has been automated. 

The bending cells: 

Bending directly from the warehouse

The analysis of 50 reference parts at VD Leegte Metaal revealed that the XpertPro with a press capacity of 250 metric tons and a maximum bending length of 4.3 meters fulfills all the requirements of the product range. The robot has a capacity of 210 kilograms.

The bent parts are fed directly from the warehouse – they are stacked on pallets above the cassettes or directly on the cassettes. A detection device with a camera guarantees individual parts are picked up. For the removal of bent parts, the bending cell is equipped with a rolling gate. Fork-lift trucks and AGVs thus have easy access and safety is ensured.

The software: 

The brain of the Smart Factory

The Shop Floor Control Server from Bystronic allows for managing the entire process flow, from file to finished part, including intralogistics solutions. Programming of the bending cell is handled by two BySoft7 Bending and Robot Manager modules. All software modules such as BySoft7 Cutting, Plant Manager Cutting (PMC), BySoft7 Bending, and Robot Manager are included in the latest system solutions. 

VD Leegte Metaal

Bystronic customer since:2020
Field of business:Sheet metal processing 
Production location:Hapert, Netherlands
Number of employees:160
Parent company:VDL Groep (family-owned enterprise with over 100 affiliates, 15,000 employees, 2019 turnover: 5.78 billion euros)

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