GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- During Stiles annual European Benchmarking Technology Tour, manufacturing professionals from across North America experienced behind-the-scenes tours of some of the most innovative, efficient, and productive manufacturing facilities in the world.

The event, which took place September 22-29 , gave participants the opportunity to benchmark their own operations against companies in Germany and the Czech Republic, giving them a competitive advantage in the marketplace and equipping them with valuable knowledge and tools.

The tour kicked off in the Czech Republic, where attendees were welcomed into a variety of facilities ranging from highly advanced, automated production, to smaller family-owned shops that depend on technology.

Regardless of the size of the company, the common thread evident in each company was a focus on technology and automation to meet rising consumer and customization demands. Participants experienced intelligent networked production systems that showcased storage and retrieval technologies, batch size one capabilities, edge processing techniques, and finishing and packaging systems for a fully optimized production process from start to finish.

One of the tour highlights included a stop at Homag production facilities in Schopfloch, Germany, where Andreas Denker, vice president of sales and marketing for Homag, shared the latest technology trends including software, newly designed machines with intelligent features, and digital breakthroughs made possible with tapio, the platform designed to support the entire value chain of the woodworking industry. Attendees also enjoyed cultural experiences throughout the weeklong event including medieval cities, historic market squares and the ever popular Volksfest fall celebration in Stuttgart, Germany.

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