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Interview With Mr. Pierre Teszner, President & Regional Director, Southeast Asia At Rockwell Automation

Interview With Mr. Pierre Teszner, President & Regional Director, Southeast Asia at Rockwell Automation

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to interview Mr. Pierre Teszner, President & Regional Director, Southeast Asia at Rockwell Automation regarding Rockwell’s achievements for 2018, the company’s aims for 2019, and the trends that will shape the industry in the following year.

1) Can you sum up your company’s focus and achievements in 2018?

Rockwell Automation is the world’s largest company solely devoted to industrial automation. The Connected Enterprise, which is how we implement smart manufacturing capabilities for our customers, is at the heart of everything we do. In 2018, our focus at Rockwell Automation has been to bring The Connected Enterprise to life for our customers.

With every action we took in 2018, we grew the strength of our distributors, system integrators and machine builder partners to bring the best automation and information solutions to our customers. Our partnership with PTC and the launch of our new branding towards the end of our fiscal year 2018, position Rockwell Automation tremendously well to bringing the Connected Enterprise to life for all customers and adapting it to local markets regardless of customer size, industry or geography.

2) What are your expectations on the regional economy in 2019?

The outlook for the regional economy of Southeast Asia for 2019 is positive. Factoring the risks inherent in the global trade and tariff arena, we do see a high likelihood for continued growth in the region supported by government investments (e.g. EEC Corridor in Thailand).

We also expect the FDI/ODI gaining strength into industries such as CPG (including companies involved with food production, packaged goods and beverages) and Oil & Gas.  Customers are particularly investing in Southeast Asia as a regional manufacturing hub as they perceive has fewer risks and less tariff exposure.

3) What business trends in Asia capture your interest for growth next year?

Next year, we’re focused on helping our customers take the first steps to digital transformation, or continue their journey, as companies are looking at digitisation to unlock increased productivity.

Rockwell Automation has a single-minded commitment to bringing the Connected Enterprise to life for all customers Together with our partners PTC and Claroty, we’re well positioned to bridge companies’ digitisation gap through scalable solutions that suit their unique business needs – either on a CAPEX or an OPEX (infrastructure or software as-a-service), or any combination needed.

4) What do you think is the key industry trend to watch out for 2019?

The key 2019 industry trends for Rockwell Automation are digital transformation and cybersecurity protection for our customers.

The key driver for digital transformation is the need to keep pace with the competition. Digital transformation enables organisations to optimise their existing processes and increase productivity and efficiencies within the business.

When it comes to cybersecurity, the best defence for companies is a good offence with a robust prevention and response plan to protect industrial control systems from ever-increasing cyberattacks.

5) What potential and opportunity do you see in the industry next year?

“To drive growth in the next 3-5 years, Rockwell Automation is focused on continuing to develop deep industry and country expertise and building our supplier and distributer networks. Additionally, with the region’s need for digitisation and cybersecurity we also see opportunities to help our customers to understand the world of digital transformation and the benefits that it offers.

“Through partnerships with the best universities, local governments, and Industry 4.0 agencies, Rockwell Automation is committed to elevating the industry and its needs by up-skilling students and re-skill working professionals so that the digitisation journey brings benefits to everyone.”


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Updates On The Progress Of Thailand 4.0

Updates On The Progress Of Thailand 4.0

Industry 4.0 has transformed the way in which manufacturing is conducted and with buzzwords such as artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, cobots and cybersecurity dominating the industry. This has resulted in emerging markets such as Thailand developing innovative solutions in order to prosper. Article by Hazel Koh.

According to the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI), Thailand 4.0 is a result of the Thai government’s vision of a new economic model, aimed at pulling Thailand out of the “middle-income trap”. And through this vision, robotics and automation technology is expected to play an increasingly important role in manufacturing. This builds on Thailand’s progress in the last three decades whereby the country grew in global rankings in terms of its automotive, electronics and electrical appliance industries, which are also the main industries that drive global robotics and automation growth. Hence, as the world’s sixth-largest commercial vehicle producer, Thailand has been using robotics and automation technology at an increasing rate.

Growth In Industrial Machinery

Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of Thailand BOI, said at the end of 2017 that, “Advanced technologies are changing the business landscape, especially in the manufacturing sector.” And he further added that, “We now see many companies transitioning into Industry 4.0, making use of AI, big data management and the Internet of Things (IoT) to seamlessly work together to exponentially increase both production and productivity.”

Therefore, it can be observed that over the past few years, manufacturers in Thailand have increasingly automated manufacturing processes and adopted the use of machinery in order to remain competitive globally. In addition, 50 percent of Thai manufacturers are considering the adoption of automation systems within one to three years while medium-sized businesses will be ready in three to five years, followed by small companies in five years or more.

This has resulted in a dramatic expansion of the Thai industrial robots industry and between 2013 and 2018, Thailand’s exports of industrial robots has increased by 133 percent.

Infrastructural And Ecosystem Support

In order to facilitate the development of Thailand 4.0, Thailand has invested in numerous support networks. For example, educational institutions are playing a role in supporting research and development as well as human resource training and this can be observed in the case of the Institute of Field Robotics (FIBO) of King Mongkut’s University of Technology, Thonburi, which is currently offering undergraduate and graduate programmes in robotics and automation engineering.

To top this off, The BOI offers a consortium of tax and non-tax investment incentives for projects that meet national development objectives in automation and robotics. For example, machinery and import duty for raw materials that are meant for export production can attain up to eight years of corporate income tax exemption while for projects related to assembling robots or automation equipment and/or automation parts, investors will be exempted from corporate tax for five years. And investments relating to robotics and automation in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) will also be given another 50 percent corporate income tax reduction for an additional five years.

Future Outlook And Challenges

As Thailand builds on its vision of advance manufacturing, the workforce has to be trained in order to meet the changing industry requirements. And it has been estimated by the ILO that 56 percent of Thai-based jobs are at high risk of being automated during the next two decades. Therefore,as the government continues to focus on the development of robotics, mechanics, AI and automation, Thailand has to invest on its workforce in order to remain competitive.


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Is Vietnam Asia’s New Tiger?

Is Vietnam Asia’s New Tiger?

Vietnam’s growth has been astronomical. In 2019, the country is set to welcome a new National Innovation Centre, IoT Innovation Hub and produce its own domestic automobiles as VinFast gears up its production plant in Haiphong. This builds upon the country’s strong PMI outlook, which can also be attributed to the rise of Vietnamese steel conglomerates such as Hoa Sen Group and Hoa Phat Group. Regarding the country’s rise, Andrew Harker, Associate Director at IHS Markit has commented that, “The recent success of Vietnamese manufacturing firms in being able to generate strong new order growth continued in December 2018. This meant that 2018 as a whole was the best calendar year for the sector since the PMI survey began in 2011 and leaves the industry well placed to have a positive 2019 despite headwinds elsewhere in the global economy.” Article by Hazel Koh.

According to Li Baodong Secretary General of the Baoao Forum for Asia, Vietnam is recognised by the world’s most prestigious organisations as the new economic tiger of Asia. This is due to the fact that the country’s economy is rapidly emerging as one of the fastest growing globally with increasing international investments. For example, just based on the number of Chinese investments that the country has attracted to date, Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee has observed that a total of 425 ​​projects in Hanoi with total registered capital of USD 517 million has been recorded.

While Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Le Hoai Trung, has attributed Vietnam’s success to its huge workforce that amounts to a population of at least 60 million working age adults and the country’s status as a dynamic, fast growing and stable economy. In fact, Vietnam’s Nikkei Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in November 2018 reached 56.5 points which is the highest level that the country has attained in seven years, resulting in the country leading Southeast Asia in terms of its PMI ratings.

Striving Towards Self Sufficiency In Steel Production

Driven by rising steel demands and economic growth, Vietnam is looking to reduce its dependency on Chinese steel and has undertaken active steps towards this goal.This is evidenced as two of the country’s largest steelmakers look set to embark on multibillion-dollar capacity investments within the country.

In fact, Hoa Sen Group intends to spend VND 10 billion on production facilities in southern Vietnam’s Ninh Thuan province in order to capitalise on the area’s deep water ports to import raw materials and export its manufactured steel products. Although the company has yet to reveal the details of its new manufacturing facilities in Ninh Thuan, construction is scheduled to occur in 2019, with operations beginning in 2019. Hoa Sen’s new facility would possess a blast furnace, which is a tool that Vietnam still lacks, and would boost an additional capacity that would more than quadruple total outputs to 16 million tons a year in 2031.

Meanwhile, Hoa Phat Group, intends to build a VND 2.7 billion steelworks in the Dung Quat Economic Zone of Quang Ngai Province and aims to begin operations in 2020. This facility is projected to increase the company’s annual capacity to 4 million tons which would lift the group total by 130 percent. At the same time, the company will be developing a $170 million steel plate mill in Hung Yen Province, which is close to the Dung Quat facility.

Strategies To Overcome Uncertainties Induced By The Trade War

In 2018, disbursement of FDI projects in Vietnam reached a record high of USD 19.1 billion, showing the high confidence of foreign investors in Vietnam’s business and investment environments. This is an increase of 9.1 percent year-on-year amid global concerns over the tension caused by the US China Trade War. Additionally, the rapid growth of both privately and state run enterprises such as Vingroup or Viettel is an indication of Vietnam’s economy prosperity and the fact that the country’s business environment is capable of nourishing large corporations of global scale.

However, as tensions over the Trade War continue to escalate in 2019, uncertainly over the status of the global manufacturing sector has continued to plague the industry and much attention has been focused on Vietnam due to the country’s status as an emerging manufacturing hub. Currently, Vietnam is projected to capture some of China’s global market share in labour-intensive manufacturing, although, in the long-term it is uncertain if Vietnam will continue to benefit from the displacement of manufacturing from China. Thus, as the trade war drags on, experts have advised Vietnam to develop a new development strategy to evade potential risks. And Mai Vu Minh, a Germany-based investor and Chairman of SAPA Thale GmbH, has further commented that Vietnam must not merely react to changing winds but take action to innovate its way up the supply chain. He also added that this means that, “Entrepreneurs need to change to adapt new technologies, management style[s] and [strive towards] the Fourth Industrial Revolution”

Strong IPO Standings

In 2018, proceeds from Southeast Asia’s IPOs plunged 34 percent. This is the first decline in two years. However, despite the overall weakening of the region’s growth, Vietnam has emerged as the region’s fastest-growing economy and witnessed increases in its IPO presences that were significant enough to allow the country to overtake Singapore and Thailand.

In total, the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange topped the region’s exchanges in total IPO proceeds for 2018 with a value of USD2.6 billion. This is 3.7 times more than the figure for 2017. This can be attributed to the growth of local enterprises such as the Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank, which raised USD 923 million in April 2018 alone.

The emergence of Vietnam as Asia’s hot IPO destination “is a synchronized result of government support, market reform, inflow of foreign capital and high pace of economic growth,” said Margaret Yang, a Singapore-based analyst at CMC Markets.

Future Outlook

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has pledged support for the implementation of Industry 4.0 in Vietnam and this vision looks set to continue to be incorporated into the country’s national development strategies. During the opening ceremony for the Industry 4.0 Summit and Expo in 2018, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc had also said that, “Vietnam has actively researched and transferred new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and robotics in order to improve [the country’s] competitiveness and innovation”.

Thus, as we look towards Vietnam’s future, it is expected that developments in infrastructure systems, especially ICT and digital connection infrastructures, cybersecurity, IoT and foreign collaborations will continue to dominate the country’s manufacturing sector.


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Interview With Ms. Tan Yen Yen, President, Asia Pacific At Vodafone Business

Interview With Ms. Tan Yen Yen, President, Asia Pacific At Vodafone Business

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to interview Ms. Tan Yen Yen, President, Asia Pacific at Vodafone Business regarding Vodafone’s achievements for 2018, the company’s aims for 2019, and the trends that will shape the industry in the following year.

Tan Yen Yen, President, Asia Pacific, Vodafone Global Enterprise_Photo


1) Can you sum up your company’s focus and achievements in 2018?

In the era of unprecedented change, our focus remains on delivering what our customers need so that they are better prepared for the future. To that end, our biggest highlight for 2018 would be the refresh of Vodafone’s enterprise division brand – now called Vodafone Business – which renews our commitment on putting customers and tangible business outcomes at the core of what we do.

In the past year, Vodafone expanded our connectivity in building over 1 million km of fibre network globally. As a result, we were able to augment our relationships with global brands and collectively work towards building a connected economy. Vodafone also recently announced a partnership with Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors to provide customers with fully-connected in-car infotainment and connected car services. Connectivity was a focus area for Vodafone in the past year and will continue to be in 2019.

We were also positioned in the ‘Leaders’ category in IDC’s 2018 Asia/Pacific Communication Service Provider MarketScape for the first time. Vodafone was the biggest mover in this year’s study in terms of its year-on-year growth on the index, largely owing to our refreshed focus on further growing the enterprise practice in the region with a distinguished focus on customer excellence.

2) What are your expectations on the regional economy in 2019?

Vodafone just launched the 2019 Global Trends Report, which identifies customer centricity, ethics and purpose, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) deployment as key business priorities for the next 12 months.

The speed and pace of change as a result of digital transformation is driving businesses to rethink business models to ensure they can continue to deliver on evolving customer demands. 2019 will also be the year that businesses gear up for 5G to improve operations and the customer experience.

The coming year marks an inflection point in the regional economy’s growth. We see 5G as the catalyst for the Internet of Things to flourish. Singapore and Hong Kong are leading the region in supporting the development of 5G, with other nations to follow suit shortly. Higher bandwidth, lower latency and its ability to support more connected devices will see 5G enabling innovative IoT services and applications to be deployed at scale. This will be a game changer for businesses across multiple industries, from manufacturing to automotive as it offers access to real-time data, enabling increased efficiency, improved visibility into performance and ultimately a better customer experience.

3) What business trends in Asia capture your interest for growth next year? What do you think is the key industry trend to watch?

Digital transformation has driven the agenda in many boardrooms this year, increasing the impetus for businesses to rethink business models and ensure they can deliver on customer expectations. In 2019, leaders will need to prioritise how they adapt to changing demands, as disruption continues to impact every facet of a business.

Vodafone gathered the following key insights from our 2019 Global Trends Report, a survey of over 1,700 businesses on what matters most in the year ahead:

  • Technology-led disruption is putting people at the heart of the business

As technology rapidly disrupts realities, the human relationship becomes invaluable. Businesses need to take a people centric approach to get ahead of changing customer needs in a market that is being reshaped by technology at lightning speed.

  • Commercial success is tied to purpose, ethics and trust

As organizations go toe-to-toe on price points and new offerings, businesses need to seek differentiation in new areas and manage perceptions of their organisations carefully. Trust is an important barometer of customer loyalty.

  • A balance is being struck between human and machine

Leaders are recognising the need to create an environment that allows people to thrive, supported by automation and machines. Employees’ expectations of the future of work is changing and businesses must heed the tide to attract and retain the best talents

It is clear that people must remain at the heart of every business that seeks to thrive in the increasingly digital world.  Customisation is the name of the new game and businesses must tailor services to individual needs of all stakeholders. Communications and mobility technologies will become the cornerstone of transforming the human experience and improving lives.

4) What potential opportunities do you see in the industry next year?

Business leaders are starting to recognise the value of automation. While three-quarters of total task hours are still driven by humans, the World Economic Forum expects the divide between man and machine to equalise by 2022.

To address this shift, businesses need to rethink their approach to implementing automation at the workplace. Machines should complement and enhance their human workforces’ comparative strengths, instead of simply driving cost savings from reducing the number of human workers.

There will be an opportunity for the region to accelerate digital transformation initiatives with automation technologies next year, but only if business leaders create supportive workplace environments to do so. Business leaders will be tasked to embrace and address employees’ expectations and fears of machines in the workforce.

In our recent Global Trends Barometer report for 2019, we found that businesses are optimistic about the opportunities AI can provide, but do not yet fully understand its implications. This has caused an AI divide to emerge in the workplace and business need to act quickly to champion a positive mindset towards change. In order to make the best of the opportunity, enterprises need to demonstrate to employees that AI represents an opportunity. Additionally, this must be supported by a strategy that puts people development and growth at the centre, deploying talents to more strategic tasks and finding a role for those displaced by automation.


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Interview With Andy Coussins, Senior Vice President And Head Of International Sales, Epicor

Interview With Andy Coussins, Senior Vice President And Head of International Sales, Epicor

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to interview Andy Coussins, Senior Vice President and Head of International Sales, Epicor Software Corporation regarding Epicor’s achievements for 2018, the company’s aims for 2019 and the trends that will shape the industry next year.

1. Can you sum up Epicor’s focus and achievements in 2018?

Globally, we had a good year in 2018, and we expect the momentum to continue next year. One of our major achievements in 2018 was our announcement of an expanded strategic partnership with Microsoft that allowed us to deliver enterprise-class solutions globally in the public cloud leveraging the Microsoft Azure platform. For customers, choosing Azure means more reliability, faster access to innovation, less disruption, greater ability to scale, and higher performance. Running Epicor ERP on the world’s most trusted cloud platform makes it even easier to focus on driving business growth.

We have also had two updates to Epicor ERP this year. The latest version of Epicor ERP supports omnichannel commerce strategy for manufacturers and dealers, and Epicor Kinetic Design is a three-pronged common cross-platform user experience (UX) framework.

2. What are your expectations on the regional economy in 2019?

I believe we will continue to see companies expanding their operations, particularly in Southeast Asia, where a higher growth path can be expected for 2019. This is coupled with the strong economic integration through the continued focus and commitment of the ASEAN nations to the AEC Blueprint which is aimed towards achieving the vision of having a highly integrated and cohesive economy by 2025.

I also see the expansion of the digital economy in this region particularly around the convergence of communication networks and increased connectivity of devices. The increased use of ICT in manufacturing and services will continue to be a big enabler of growth and that will help boost the economy of the region.

3. What business trends in Asia capture your interest for growth next year?

Asia, and particularly Southeast Asia, plays a very important role in the global economic landscape. The region is expected to become even more competitive as an industrial centre with deeper regional economic integration. This will be brought about by the ASEAN Economic Community focus on increasing trade and investment, integrating MSMEs in global value chains, and developing an innovation-driven economy.

The focus on digitisation, especially for manufacturers, in this region will be an opportunity for all. About 40 percent of the industrial companies in Southeast Asia rate their level of digitisation as high – it is believed that this will rise to 69 percent in the next five years.

Coupled with fast moving global markets, Southeast Asian manufacturers need to respond quickly to changing demands to maximise new market opportunities. Our product vision is designed to drive industry forward with an intelligent business platform primed for global customers to embrace cloud, IoT, mobility, and predictive analytics—likewise, we strive to be ahead of the curve on trends like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and machine learning, so we can help our customers embrace them when they are ready.

The unique strengths of the Epicor industry-specific ERP platforms are underpinned by a modern service fabric and topped with cross-platform applications that enable our customers to achieve digital transformation and raise the bar for automation, analytics, and customer experience.

Innovative ERP solutions, combined with Industry 4.0 developments, are already helping to automate production lines, streamline supply chains, and provide the intelligent data manufacturers and distributors need to react quickly to changing consumer demands. One example include what Epicor customer Cladtek Singapore  is doing to embrace these trends.

4. What do you think is the key industry trend to watch out for 2019?

Manufacturers in Asia, and mainly in Southeast Asia, are beginning to understand the business imperative of the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as artificial intelligence and data science. Done right, Industry 4.0 will enable them to improve efficiencies whilst reducing costs.

By 2020, there will be 30 billion connected devices on earth. This is leading to a Big Data mountain growing beyond recognition. Machines communicating with people—and other machines—are creating so much data that we have generated more in the past two years than in the previous 5,000 years of human history.

5. What potential and opportunity do you see in the industry next year?

There’s solid proof that prioritising technology will help businesses grow. This year, Epicor delivered its second Global Growth Index, and discovered that around the globe, manufacturing businesses are showing healthy signs of growth.

In Singapore:

  • 69 percent of companies said they’d experienced growth in sales/turnover in FY18
  • 64 percent said they’d experienced growth in their product range in FY18
  • 71 percent said they’d experienced growth in profits in FY18
  • 67 percent said they are experiencing growth in exports/overseas sales in FY18
  • 50 percent said they’d experienced growth in their workforce in FY18
  • 67 percent said they’d experienced growth in geographic coverage in FY18

The report also showed 2018 saw up to 3.7 percent year-on-year business growth worldwide.  Global growth rates were impressive—with the proportion of businesses that have reported an increase in their sales/turnover up five percent, and with three percent more businesses experiencing profit growth, as well as product range growth, compared with the previous year.

Overall, more than a third (36 percent) of all businesses agree that investment in IT is a high priority. But interestingly, the prioritisation of technology investment, when comparing companies with high and weak growth, differs starkly—the figure rises to 57 percent among those experiencing strong growth, but drops to just 20 percent among companies with weak growth. It is therefore conclusive that, per the results of the Global Growth Index, companies that consider technology investment as critical to their strategic growth are reaping the benefits.

Technology is, after all, crucial to overall business growth in the manufacturing sector because it provides leaders with vital insight into their business operations, enabling them to make better decisions faster. Technology can also automate otherwise manual tasks, freeing up employee time—valuable to a growing company with a stretched workforce.


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Interview With Rob Mesaros, Vice President & Head Of 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing For Asia Pacific & Japan, HP

Interview With Rob Mesaros, Vice President & Head Of 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing For Asia Pacific & Japan, HP

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to speak to Rob Mesaros, Vice President & Head of 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing for Asia Pacific & Japan, HP regarding the development of 3D printing technologies for the metalworking industry and its application for mass production.

1.Could you provide an overview of the 3D metal printing technologies that HP has developed thus far?

In September 2018, we introduced the HP Metal Jet which takes metal 3D printing from specialized production to mass production. As the world’s most advanced 3D printing technology for the high-volume manufacturing of production-grade metal parts, Metal Jet provides up to 50 times more productivity at a significantly lower cost than other 3D printing methods.

We also announced the new Metal Jet Production Service, which allows customers to submit their designs for 3D-printed metal parts, accelerating their path to manufacturing’s fully digital future.

Our expanded portfolio of HP Metal Jet solutions break through the economic, design, and time constraints of traditional methods for metal part production while delivering quality, productivity and cost beyond the capabilities of existing 3D printing technologies for metals.

2. What are the most innovative industry applications that you have seen when it comes to 3D metal printing technologies?

Key metals-driven markets include the automotive, medical, and industrial sectors.

With GKN Powder Metallurgy and Volkswagen, HP Metal Jet is being integrated into a strategic product development roadmap over the next few years to make everything from higher performance functional parts with significant structural requirements, such as gearshift knobs and mirror mounts to customized key rings. With 6,000 to 8,000 parts in a single car, the ability to produce many of these parts without first having to build manufacturing tools is helping Volkswagen reduce cycle time and realise a higher volume of mass production very quickly.

We are also partnering with Parmatech to utilise the Metal Jet technology for the manufacture of complex parts, such as surgical scissors and endoscopic surgical jaws.

Additionally, HP has partnered Triple Eight Race Engineering to 3D print racecar components. We’re also seeing service bureaus making repeat orders of our Multi Jet Fusion printers – Solize in Japan, and our strategic partner, RecTech in China have announced the expansion of their printer fleets – with the latter planning to have at least 30 HP 3D Printing systems by the end of 2019.

3. What do you think are the top three barriers to the adoption of 3D printing technologies for mass production?

The first key to unlock growth of the 3D printing market is product capability. The adoption of 3D printing technologies for mass production will depend on the ability of 3D printers to produce final parts faster and with quality that is as consistent, if not more, than traditional manufacturing. The dynamic is straightforward: If the machine is slow, the cost per part is usually higher. And if it is printing inconsistently, those operating costs can multiply.

The next key is to ensure that the materials used in 3D printing are similar in cost to analog materials. Historically, 3D printing materials can cost 20 to 100 times more than a similar material when it is used in traditional manufacturing. This is because many established 3D printing systems today are “closed” — meaning manufacturers are locked into using costly materials for specific machines with limited technology.

Finally, we also need to expand the materials available for 3D printing. Today, most 3D printers use only one material, such as thermoplastics, ceramics or metals. At the same time, there are a very limited number of materials available to manufacturers — about 80 types are used in 3D printing, with over 1,000 variants, compared with around 30,000 for injection molding. Manufacturers need more 3D materials to choose from. They need systems that can use a wider choice of materials and they need to be able to churn out products composed of multiple materials.

4. How do you think the above-mentioned barriers can be solved?

Improved speed, performance, up-time and quality will enable world-class 3D printing technology to perform at a higher level.  As it is, the Metal Jet technology we’ve just launched in September 2018 already provides 50 times more productivity at a significantly lower cost than other 3D printing methods – and at a consistently high quality which meets or exceeds industry standards.

Lowering the cost of advanced 3D printing materials and applications is also critical. While Metal Jet technology is already a cost-effective solution with its low acquisition and operational costs; an open 3D printing ecosystem can spur both materials innovation as well as drive down costs. For example, HP’s Open Materials Platform lets the biggest materials companies in the world develop innovative 3D materials that in turn unlock a new wave of parts and applications. Open systems also help lower the cost of materials by enabling more materials suppliers to get into the market, increasing competition and driving innovation.

On HP’s part, we launched the HP-NTU Digital Manufacturing Corporate Lab in October 2018, in partnership with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. One of the areas the lab – our largest university collaboration globally – will research is new materials and applications for 3D Printing.

5. What will be the trends in the development of 3D metal printing technologies in the next five years?

Currently, 3D printing is mostly used in industries and applications with low volumes and high unit costs, items that also require customisation. However, technology improvement has been unlocking its use in mass production applications.

3D printing in manufacturing will continue to expand in different industries, driven by technology, maturity, and cost reduction. We expect to see more and better materials being introduced. Manufacturers will also have a greater level of control. Recent technologies, such as HP’s Multi Jet Fusion, can control material and print properties down to the voxel level (3D equivalent of a pixel).

Moving forward, HP and its partners are driving the next digital industrial revolution and accelerating the end-to end reinvention of the $12 trillion manufacturing industry – $6 trillion of which is in the Asia Pacific and Japan. In the long-term, 3D printing will be powering the digital factories of the future, changing the way the world designs and manufactures.


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Interview With Cas Brentjens, Vice President Solution Consulting Asia Pacific & Japan At Infor

Interview With Cas Brentjens, Vice President Solution Consulting Asia Pacific & Japan at Infor

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to speak to Cas Brentjens,Vice President Solution Consulting Asia Pacific & Japan at Infor regarding his projections on the megatrends for 2019 and the disruptive technologies that have impacted the industry in 2018.

1. Can you sum up your company’s focus and achievements in 2018?

Users now want to have an intuitive, mobile-app style user experience. That’s the first aspect of our focus – Infor builds complete industry suites in the cloud and efficiently deploys technology that puts the user experience first, leverages data science, and integrates easily into existing systems.

The second focus is to offer end-to-end digital solutions to help companies and enterprises outpace the digital disruption and unlock their growth potential. Companies are now in a competitive environment where most industries are being disrupted by new players with unique business models. We want to help companies by providing a platform where they can outpace the competition and the disruption that is happening in the industry.

2. What are the projects that companies within the industry are currently focusing on?

There has been a focus on upstream supply chain processes and we have been working on projects to help optimise large data centers through our asset management solutions. For the automotive industry, we are also looking at how to position companies in their journey towards establishing electric vehicle plants and the manufacturing of components for the new electrical vehicle market.

Companies are also investing in the factory of the future, which are optimized factories with connected IoT devices that are collecting data and doing smart things with that data. This could help in maximizing output, optimizing maintenance schedules or the customizing of products for the individual customer.

There is also one megatrend whereby companies are customizing what the consumer wants and individual industry players are working towards that trend.

3. What are your projections for the APAC economy in 2019?

Digital disruption will still happen with new players entering with new revenue models and new product offerings. Companies in most industries will be moving from a product-only business model to offering both products and services. A shift of focus in the industry from mass products to hyper-personalization will continue to happen and companies will shift from a horizontal or vertical play towards a functional play. Industries are also moving from one aspect that they are really good at from a manufacturing or services perspective, to servicing the customer from a holistic view.

4. What business trends in Asia will capture your interest for growth next year?

What is happening with the “Made in China 2025” vision is changing the way supply chains across APAC are being organised. You can see a re-design of supply chains where factories are moved out of China to Vietnam or other emerging countries. The Belt and Road initiative has not only impacting the infrastructure in China, but it is also impacting the re-design of the supply chains in other regions. Therefore, large mega-trends like the Belt and Road initiative, Industry 4.0 and “Made in China 2025” vision are making a big impact in the industry, and we are looking very closely at those.

5. To sum up, what do you think is the key industry trend in 2019?

Dealing with hyper-personalization in the market where customers are now expecting more customized products and the industry must deal with how to meet that demand and bring it to market and with speed.


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Interview With Mr. Debashis Tarafdar, Principal Advisor, Supply Chain, From Ecosystm

Interview With Mr. Debashis Tarafdar, Principal Advisor, Supply Chain, From Ecosystm

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr. Debashis Tarafdar, Principal Advisor, Supply Chain, Ecosystm to discuss the up and coming trends affecting supply chain networks in the manufacturing industry.

Interview With Mr. Debashis Tarafdar, Principal Advisor, Supply Chain, From Ecosystm

1. Could you provide an overview of the current trends regarding supply chains that are integrated to manufacturing networks in the Asian metalworking industry?

There are several trends that are impacting the Asian metalworking industry supply chain at the moment. The global economic recovery seems to be underway, and that is good news for the metalworking industry particularly in the industrial machinery and automotive sectors. However, uncertainties remain with the prospect of trade wars and geopolitical conflicts. A set of issues specific to this industry has been emerging for a few years now. Technological advances in material science and engineering impacting tooling and workholding processes – enabling more productive and accurate outputs with increased tool life. Industry 4.0, IoT, smarter sensors and connected machines have great potential in controlling and monitoring machining processes and taking corrective actions proactively, contributing to lower downtime and higher yield. Smarter machines equipped with smart sensors are at the heart of a smart factory and will have significant impact on the interconnected supply chains of tomorrow. Additive manufacturing is enabling complex but low volume work that was difficult to achieve through traditional machining processes. However, shortage of skilled labour is one of the issues that this industry must deal with, in order to ensure sustainable improvements in productivity and growth.

2. With the digitalisation of manufacturing processes in Asia, how can supply chains evolve to keep up with the changes?

With increasingly demanding customers and a globalised competitive environment, adopting digitalisation is a must for achieving a demand-driven supply chain management strategy. Supply chain processes need to be integrated from customers to suppliers, with seamless information access both upstream and downstream. Smart factories and smart processes that are highly adaptive, with a high degree of automation and robotics will be the key to success – helping organisations improve their service and lowering costs at the same time.

3. Within the context of Asia, what are the biggest challenges to the optimisation of supply chains within manufacturing networks?

I think the biggest challenge in Asia is the mindset, as global organisations aggressively adopt digital business. The majority of the organisations today are still silo-ed in their approach and are highly cost-focused instead of growth and service focused. To me, the definition of digital business is that it is “a solution-centric business approach to deliver customer value through process innovations that connect people, technology and “things” to drive revenue and efficiency.” A large proportion of Asian manufacturers are still product-focused rather than solution-focused, which makes them intrinsically internally-focused, and that in my opinion is the biggest hurdle. The industry needs to analyse what defines “value” for their customers, and deliver tailored solutions to create a win-win. Without the correct perspective, optimisation efforts may well lead to sub-optimal results.

4. How can the challenges mentioned above be overcome?

Organisations need to adopt an outside-in approach to managing supply chains, as well as integrate supply chain processes from an end-to-end perspective. Real-time visibility of both in-process and extended supply chain metrics is important for making the right trade-offs. Along the way, companies also need to consider the stage of maturity that their digital supply chains are at. There is a continuum of digital supply chain maturity that exists from “ad-hoc” to “developing” to “leading”. Through a systematic and structured understanding of the maturity level and associated capability gaps, supply chain leaders can develop programs that will help progress the maturity over a period of time, thereby delivering improved customer and stakeholder value as well as better return on assets and capital.

5. In the next 5-10 years, what will be the technologies that drive supply chains in Asia?

Key technologies that will drive supply chains in Asia in the next 5-10 years are rapid planning and optimisation capabilities with analytics and a control tower approach – enabling predictive decision-making, at the minimum. At the next level, improved customer centricity and better service will need IoT and smart machines as an integral part of the end-to-end supply chain, enabling prescriptive decision-making. And finally machine learning, big data and artificial intelligence capabilities will enable cognitive decision-making across the extended supply chain, powering industry ecosystems that will work towards a common goal delivering customer value.


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Interview With Mr. David Chia, Automation Charter Chair Of The Singapore Industrial Automation Association

Interview With Mr. David Chia, Automation Charter Chair Of The Singapore Industrial Automation Association

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr. David Chia, Automation Charter Chair of the Singapore Industrial Automation Association on his views on the future of manufacturing technologies in Asia and the impact of the current trade war on the industry.

Interview With Mr. David Chia, Automation Charter Chair Of The Singapore Industrial Automation Association

1.Could you provide an overview of the key trends that have shaped the manufacturing industry in Asia in 2018?

We see some key trends emerging this year:

  • Digitalisation in the drive towards more manufacturing productivity, we are witnessing more and more companies (mostly MNCs) develop and execute their digitisation plans. Each sensor data, each module conditions, each machine performance are getting collected and sent to the cloud, where the data engineers and scientists are waiting. Driving business insights from those data is now no longer a dream, but an imperative corporate goal to ensure survival and growth.
  • Adoption of open standards. Digitisation is not possible without the existence of the underlying IoT technologies. Without a common standard, it would’ve been very expensive for individual companies to develop and deploy their own standards, thereby slowing down the whole digitisation process. MQTT seems to gain a very wide acceptance as the communication technology of choice here. It is quickly becoming the de facto standard to communicate with the cloud. Meanwhile OPC UA is becoming the protocol of choice for device and machine intercommunication on the factory floor.
  • Governmental push towards Industry 4.0. Singapore is blessed with a forward looking government who has put out the initiative as early as 2014. However, government in the ASEAN region is quickly catching up. One example is Indonesia, who announced this year their own roadmap to Industry 4.0. Having such a large manufacturing base in the country, it is encouraging that the government has focused on five sectors: Food & Beverage, Chemical, Textile, Automotive, and Electronics industries. We can expect other governments in the region to do the same soon.

2. What has been the top 3 biggest challenges in the digitalisation of manufacturing in Asia?

The biggest challenges are funding, technology standards, and talent.

  • Funding, this is probably the biggest challenge facing SMEs. Digitisation is relatively a new concept in manufacturing space. Very few companies can claim that they have done it successfully. In the absence of such successful case studies, it is quite difficult to get the appropriate funding.
  • Technological standards. While some standards in some areas are quite established, they are not monopolies. For example, when we look into the area of fieldbus, there’s a plethora of options out there: old vs new standards, serial based vs Ethernet based, and a variety of ways that these standards work. This presents a challenge for the implementer of digitisation to get the data from different machines or different part of the plants.
  • Unfortunately for companies embarking on digitisation journey, it is not a one month journey. There is no single off the shelf components or a plug and play software solution to perform digitisation. For many companies, digitisation is a multi-year multi-stage efforts. Getting the right people to perform different functions along this journey is a challenge. Retaining the talents is probably a bigger challenge. Meanwhile the factory floor workers must be re-trained to get up to date with the latest digitisation initiative that the company is embarking on.

3. How do you suggest that the challenges that have been mentioned above be overcome?

It will take some efforts from different stakeholders to overcome those challenges:

  • Companies should collaborate more to create common standards. There are more to gain from standardisation than competition. Germany is leading this effort and they have done quite well. VDMA is leading the machine standardisation for Germany. Countries in the ASEAN region may need to follow on their footsteps.
  • Governments across the region should help in the funding of digitisation initiative. This is very important for SMEs. While big players have easy access to funding, small SMEs are facing a big challenge here. Governments can come in and fill the funding gap in the short to medium term.
  • Re-training and upskilling the workforce is needed. We are facing shortages in data engineers, data scientists, data analysts in the region. While some manufacturing jobs will eventually disappear as an effect of digitisation, new ones will be created. However, those new jobs creation are on the higher end of the skill spectrum, hence the importance of educational institutes.

4. How has the trade war impacted manufacturing in Asia in 2018 and how will it continue to impact the industry in 2019?

There’s an old saying that goes where one door closes, another opens. This is true in the current trade war situation. It creates uncertainty on one hand, but it creates opportunity on another hand. We are seeing more investment flowing to other regions outside China. Closer to home, the South East Asian region seems to benefit from this trend.

5. For 2019, what will be the emerging markets and focus areas that the metalworking industry in Asia will focus on?

At the mass market stage, enterprise digitisation will penetrate deeper into the manufacturing floor. Enterprise will look to get more data from as many machines and sensors as possible. This has been happening in the past years, and we are expecting this trend to continue.

The need for data collection will force some rethinking in what goes inside the control cabinet. While traditional controllers are well known and well loved, it needs some additional components to do data collection and data sending. Additional components means additional costs and more point of failures, and a potentially bigger control cabinet. Some PC based solutions out there will be more attractive moving forward.

As well as sending data over standardised communication protocol, companies will increasingly looking to get standardised information from each machine type. This so called “information modelling” will make sense when one look into a production line today, there is hardly a “homogenous” production line containing the same machine model from the same manufacturer. In this area, the VDW has announced umati, an open and common language specifically designed for machine tools. With umati, end users can utilise the same interface to get the same data from different model of machine tools from different manufacturers. The good news is, umati is based on OPC UA.

Another focus for metalworking and CNC world will be the use of AR technologies. While still a cutting edge technology today, this technology holds a lot of promise from speeding up operators training, to helping maintenance work.

At the bleeding edge, we increasingly see a trend where suppliers are looking to implement ML directly on premise / machine. While this is on early stages, we feel that this would be the internal focus of many bleeding edge supplier


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Interview With Mr. Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director Of Omron Electronics Singapore

Interview With Mr. Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director of Omron Electronics Singapore

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr. Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director of Omron Electronics Singapore on his views on the future of robotics technologies in Asia and its impact on manufacturing processes and supply chains.

Interview With Mr. Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director of Omron Electronics Singapore

1. In your opinion, what are the top three megatrends that are shaping the robotics industry in Asia?

Firstly, robots are becoming increasingly proactive due to intelligent features being incorporated into them today. Robots are no longer limited to menial or laborious duties. Empowered by artificial intelligence, robots can take on higher level tasks due to their ability to ‘learn’ and ‘think’.

Secondly, the use of collaborative robots or “cobots” is set to increase. Robots have yet to really work collaboratively with humans due to safety concerns and inadequate sensory information. However, we are making substantial progress in improving safety and sensing technology, increasing the potential to revolutionise the way humans work with robots in the future.

Lastly, decision makers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that their businesses can reap by incorporating robots. As a result, people with skills and expertise in robotics are becoming more highly sought-after.

2. What are the key challenges that prevent manufacturers in Asia from adopting robotics in their manufacturing processes and supply chains?

Manufacturers are still faced with resistance from employees who are not familiar with robotics. Unfortunately, many employees still fear that their jobs are threatened by robotics and automation.

Incorporating robotics into factories and production lines is also seen as a long-term project. Small and medium sized manufacturers, vigilant of their costs and cashflow, may not see investing in robotics as immediately beneficial or justifiable.

Successful implementation of robotics is also typically perceived as requiring major adjustments to work processes or even infrastructure. This can lead to resistance from employees who are unwilling to change or adapt.

3. How do you suggest that the above challenges be solved?

Manufacturers must understand that the implementation of robotics is not about replacing workers. When incorporated successfully in the production line, for example, robotics and automation can alleviate workers from routine and laborious tasks. These workers can move on to perform more value-added tasks in the factory, ultimately enhancing the quality and quantity of output.

The belief that robotics only provides a long-term return on investment may also be incorrect. For example, for some organisations, simple optimisations to existing manufacturing lines have resulted in significant cost savings at comparatively low costs. For instance, Omron has helped one packaging manufacturer increase output speed by 30 percent by using anti-vibration technology. The speed of the existing yoghurt packaging line was limited due to the need to stop the product from sloshing during movements. Anti-vibration technology removed this bottleneck and allowed them to perform at a much higher standard.

Training employees to pick up robotics skills and the ability to work with robots is also effective in driving adoption. Furthermore, robotics technology has evolved to the point where major infrastructure changes are no longer required in order to achieve the same goals. To explore what is possible, the industry has evolved to allow SMEs and businesses to experiment with these technologies rather than make an upfront commitment. The Omron Automation Centre, for example, provides solutions and training to companies who are looking to explore advanced technology solutions.

4. In 5 to 10 years’ time, how do you think the robotics industry and its relationship with manufacturing and supply chains will evolve in Asia?

In five to 10 years’ time, robotics and automation will be a sine qua non for the manufacturing industry. Robots are expected to take on more higher-level roles as technology continues to evolve, providing relief to manufacturers today who are typically under increasing pressure due to fast-evolving consumer trends, shorter product life cycles, increased competition and labour shortages.

On top of robotics, advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to play key roles in production lines and instil a sense of human-free proactiveness that will continue to transform the way we work in factories.

Smart adaptive algorithms are equipping robots with the ability to analyse and process data with quick efficiency. Advanced analytics and AI software will also allow robots to arrive at programmed actions based on the intelligence they discover.

It will also no longer be a surprise that machines and robots can track a large amount of production variables through advanced analytics. This allows timely control of crucial production factors such as manufacturing accuracy and quality control that are not easily spotted by humans.

 5. What are your thoughts on the Singapore International Robo Expo? Do you think the industry is ready for an event like this?

As a country that is largely thriving on a knowledge-based economy and with a strong focus on building itself into a leading smart nation, Singapore is an ideal location for events like the Singapore International Robo Expo.

The Singapore government has been a keen advocate of industries adopting robotics and other advanced technologies to digitalise operations. For instance, the government recently launched the Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index, a whitepaper that illustrates the government’s efforts to capitalise on the Industry 4.0 trend and transform the manufacturing landscape in Singapore

This event also provides an opportunity for the different stakeholders in the robotics industry to gather and exchange ideas. For example, Omron’s booth featured its Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle that featured a mobile robot and a collaborative robot arm tightly integrated together as a “mobile robotic handler”. These demonstrations help mature Singapore’s conversations and approaches on how certain functions, such as transportation and the loading of work materials in this case, can be fully automated.


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