Recently, the requirements on sheet metal production processes have increased significantly. Highest precision and flexibility with efficient energy consumption and short cycle times can be achieved by advanced concepts only. This requires a deep insight into the non-linear bending process. For this sake, efficient simulation models have been implemented to model the bending process: two and three dimensional finite element models combined with multibody simulation tools, contact mechanics algorithms and substructure techniques. The simulation tools have been successfully calibrated by measurement results. With the obtained detailed process knowledge, new adaptive concepts have been introduced, e.g. a smart crowning system in order to achieve straight profiles. The industrial application has shown the advantage of utilizing the above mentioned techniques. The straightness of the bends has been significantly increased, while energy consumption and cycle times have been reduced. Secondly, the development time of new machine concepts has been drastically reduced, such that the first prototype can be transferred to series production within short time. Moreover, the applied strategies show a large potential for future developments.