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The Future Of Manufacturing: Impactful Tech On The Horizon

The Future of Manufacturing: Impactful Tech on the Horizon

The future of manufacturing is brimming with opportunity—it is full of new technologies designed to reduce waste and maximise process efficiency and flexibility through software and hardware capabilities. Article by Rahav Madvil, Simulation Product Manager for Siemens Digital Industries Software, and Noam Ribon, Senior Business Consultant at Siemens Digital Industries Software.

Industrial manufacturing as a sector has been an early adopter of robotics and other forms of technological improvements for decades. Robotics have been one of the best options to increase production efficiency for large and often highly repetitive manufacturing processes. But the era of producing large quantities of just a few products with low mix is coming to an end, giving way to increased product personalisation requiring a more flexible production process with less waste than ever before.

Fortunately, the future of manufacturing is brimming with opportunity. It is full of new technologies designed to reduce waste and maximise process efficiency and flexibility through software and hardware capabilities. Almost all of this promise is built upon a foundation of digital transformation – and the digital twin. Everything from raw material tracking to process optimisations to hardware selection stem from insights gained from the digital twin and a closed-loop optimisation of entire facilities.

The most difficult aspect of any change to operation are the inevitable changes to process—they are expensive twice over, because nothing is being produced and resources are still being consumed. An autonomous transport initiative squarely addresses this, relying on a few, key technologies to make it happen.

The Power of Virtual Commissioning

Creating a comprehensive digital twin of your production process can greatly reduce downtime for new machines, new processes and new products.  Let’s say you need to install a new CNC station. What if the processes for this new machine could be validated before it ever arrived on the production floor by using the digital twin of the production line? Less time could be spent integrating the new component into the overall production lines through line integration as a part of virtual commissioning.  Available today, virtual commissioning is the critical underpinning to an efficient production environment enabling a closed-loop iterative optimisation of the entire facility.

Virtual commissioning is vital, not only for testing software controls, but for adding insight to the efficiency of the controls strategy. It is also essential for embarking on the advanced robotics journey, laying the groundwork for implementing greater process automation and flexibility needed to efficiently implement tomorrow’s manufacturing technologies today.

Simulate Everything Upfront

One of the best options to minimise risk when updating an existing process or making a new one is to simulate the new operations. It nearly eliminates upfront investment in machinery before knowing whether the new process will operate as expected on the shop floor. For new digitalisation efforts, this is where a digital twin should be established for the process. Without a comprehensive study of the actions within a plant new equipment could be under-utilised leading to lost investment.

Just as important is the implementation of IoT devices, that serve to close the loop between the digital twin and the physical processes once the new processes have been initiated. Although these devices are often embedded in new production equipment, but it is important to consider how to best maximise the voluminous data they generate to gain crucial insight into the production process.

Next Generation Programming

Another route to maximising production time even when supporting a high product mix is to expedite the reprogramming of the robotics in use on the factory floor. Without integrated robotic control, updating a robotic arm for a new task can be incredibly time-consuming. It needs to be taken offline, reprogrammed, validated and restarted, for each robot that will handle the new processes.

In a partnership between AtriMinds and B/S/H/, Siemens Digital Industries Software helped bring flexibility to robotic arms by enabling automation for flexible products.

Siemens Digital Industries Software bring flexibility to robotic arms by enabling automation for flexible products.

All that changes by integrating the programmable logic controllers for these robots into the comprehensive digital twin. Much of this process can be streamlined. Does a bolt spacing on a phone need to be shifted slightly to accommodate the latest 5G wireless antenna? If the entire fleet of robots working on that production line could understand the change, that would save many hours across multiple engineering and production teams. Engineers simply need to let the robots know of the change and any differences in manufacturing tolerances can be accounted for with closed loop sensing through visual or force feedback. With force feedback within the robotic arm, any force exerted over a defined threshold can initiate a pause to the robotic arm’s actions and readjust positioning to address the perceived problem.  Instead of shutting them down for reprogramming, all the robots working on the project can adjust independently to subtle changes.

Although this might sound like some futuristic scenario, task-based programming has already been tested in the real world. In a partnership between AtriMinds and B/S/H/, Siemens Digital Industries Software helped bring flexibility to robotic arms by enabling automation for flexible products. Previously, one of the largest hurdles to automating assembly was how to work with flexible components. Traditional robotics rigidly follow predefined movements, so if something were to inadvertently shift, the whole assembly could be destroyed. But by implementing force sensing on the robotic arms, there is an almost intuitive understanding of the parts and how the robot is interacting with the workpiece at its station. If a hole is slightly out of place on a panel, the input from force sensors can help the robot redirect its movement and thread a screw through without complex, preprogrammed instructions for misalignment scenarios.

Optimising Production with Autonomous Robotics

Simulation, virtual commissioning and advanced robotics programming lay the foundation for a fully flexible production floor, but automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) weave it all together and bring it to life. Historically, conveyor belts acted as the material flow paths on a shop floor. They efficiently move product from point A to point B but require semi-static positioning. Even mobile conveyor systems, common in logistics work, take time to move and to ensure a safe path for product.

Heatmap from simulating AGV and AMR activity on a manufacturing floor.

In contrast, AGVs and AMRs can change their path during transit. This saves time that would have been spent readjusting existing features, this is critical for a flexible production environment. Imagine a production floor, making two distinct version of a product. For version one, the bolts need to be added before the secondary assembly is added, while in version two bolts cannot be added until after the sub-assembly has been mounted. In a static conveyor facility, this could be completed given enough conveyor length and a sorting mechanism. Beyond a couple variations to the production sequence the factory would fill up with conveyor loops that only transport a few products at a time, defeating one of the  main goals of the technology But with a fleet of AGVs or AMRs moving materials and work pieces throughout the facility, products can be rerouted and the sequence reordered to another machine. Or, in the case of highly customised consumer products, components could be routed to the best machine for the task. It can account for how much time is required to switch over to the new process, how many units can it produce compared to other machines, and even the impact of a re-route on other processes on the shop floor.

Reaping the Benefits of Tomorrow’s Robotics Today

Achieving all this requires a highly integrated production process. To guarantee a product is still made correctly during an automated process change, it needs to be simulated beforehand using a digital twin. To certify the product can be made in the new location, the production machine needs to be validated for the task using virtual commissioning. And to ensure the slightly different parts don’t produce errors in the process, the machines themselves need to be flexible to adapt to in real time to changing conditions with AGVs and AMRs.

Properly managing all these variables can have an incredibly positive effect on process performance, in fact it can produce up to a 40 percent improvement in labour productivity, according to a 2020 McKinsey study. Understanding the shop floor is an invaluable proposition and will continue to net savings and improvements through the life of the facility, even making it last longer by reducing maintenance overhead and costs with the improved condition monitoring of extensive IoT and the comprehensive digital twin.

Learn more of how Tecnomatix brings the tools of tomorrow’s factories to the factories of today with Siemens’ Xcelerator portfolio with free trials for the Process Simulate and Plant Simulate tools.

 

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Would You Trust The Algorithm?

Would You Trust The Algorithm?

Imagine if you could automate some of the day-to-day operational decisions in your organization, so that your employees could focus on strategic projects, like developing new product lines or expanding the business. How good would an artificial intelligence (AI) model need to be, before you give it control? Would it, for example, need to equal the performance of human engineers, or demonstrate better performance? What if an error could cause significant financial losses or even human injury, how would this change your response?

A survey put scenarios like this to 515 senior leaders from the industrial world (including the energy, manufacturing, heavy industry, infrastructure and transport sectors) as part of a research into the uses, benefits, barriers and attitudes towards AI. Their responses offer a unique insight into the future of AI in industrial enterprises.

Heavy industry and heavy consequences

In these industries, many use cases for AI are expected to help avoid disasters and make workplaces safer. This is important because while AI methodologies are similar across industries, the consequences of failure are not. In many industrial organizations, bad decisions can leave thousands of people without a train to work; millions of dollars can be lost if machinery overheats; slight changes in pressure can lead to an environmental catastrophe; and innumerable scenarios can lead to loss of life.

It is therefore significant that a large set of respondents (44%) believe that, over the course of the next five years, an AI system will autonomously control machines that could potentially cause injury or death. Even greater numbers (54%) believe that AI will, within the same period, autonomously control some of their organization’s high-value assets.

To give AI such responsibility, industrial AI will need to become more sophisticated, and often this will be driven by new approaches to the way data is managed, generated, represented, and shared. For example:

  • Contextual data and simulations: Already today we see AI applied to data sets created and organized in new ways to enhance insights and understanding. Examples include knowledge graphs, which capture the meaning of – and relationships between – items in diverse data sets, and digital twins, which provide detailed digital representations and simulations of real systems, assets, or processes.
  • Embedded AI and big picture insights: Internet of Things (IoT) and Edge technologies are giving rise to diverse machine-generated data sets which can support new levels of situational awareness and real-time insights in the cloud or directly in the field.
  • Data from beyond the walls: Improved protocols and technologies for sharing data between organizations could support the development of AI models that simultaneously draw from the data of suppliers, partners, regulators, customers, and perhaps even competitors.

Context changes meaning

To take one example from the above, there is enormous potential in using industrial knowledge graphs to enhance AI models by combining different datasets. “Knowledge graphs add context to the data you’re analyzing,” explains Norbert Gaus, Head of R&D in Digitalization and Automation at Siemens. “For example, machine data can be analyzed in the context of design data, including the tasks the machine is made for, the temperatures it should operate at, the key thresholds built into the parts, and so forth. To this we could add the service history of similar machines, including faults, recalls and expected inspection outcomes throughout the machine’s operational life. Knowledge graphs make it much easier to augment the machine data we use to train AI models, adding valuable contextual information.”

The survey explored the kinds of contextual data that leaders believe would be most useful today. Data from equipment manufacturers came out on top, with 71% rating this as a major or minor benefit. This was followed by internal data from other divisions, regions or departments (70%), data from suppliers (70%) and performance data from sold products in use with customers (68%).

A company that uses knowledge graphs to bring different kinds of data together – such as product history, operational performance, environmental conditions – would be able to create a single AI model that drives better predictions, useful ideas, new efficiencies, and more powerful automation.

Building faith in algorithms

Ever more powerful applications will no doubt raise new challenges. It will require trusting AI with responsibilities that were only ever given to humans. In these cases, AI applications will need to win the confidence of decision-makers, while organizations will need to develop new risk and governance frameworks.

To explore these issues, the survey asked respondents to imagine several scenarios like the one at the start of this article. For example, 56% decided to accept the decision of an impressive AI model over an experienced employee (44%), where the decision would have major financial consequences. Is 56% high or low? One might think it is low considering respondents were told that the AI model had outperformed the organization’s most experienced employees in a year-long pilot. It suggests that the other 44% could have a bias towards human decisions, even when the evidence favors AI. You can read more about these and other important issues in the next-gen industrial AI research report.

Challenges aside, the research suggests an optimistic outlook for AI. As AI grows more sophisticated, leaders expect fewer harmful cyberattacks, easier risk management, more innovation, higher margins, and safer workplaces. Overall, with the promise of such a diverse and important range of positive impacts potentially on the horizon, there will be no shortage of motivation to overcome all challenges on the path to next-gen industrial AI.

 

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[WATCH] Siemens Discusses Initiatives, Outlook Amid COVID-19

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Ensuring Manufacturing Safety Using Digitalised Production Design

Ensuring Manufacturing Safety Using Digitalised Production Design

Digitalisation at the enterprise level has proven to be critical to bringing production back online safely, quickly and with greater resilience in preparation for crises of the future. By Nand Kochhar, vice president of Automotive and Transportation Industry Strategy for Siemens Digital Industries Software.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put exceptional strain on manufacturing facilities in the automotive industry. While all parts of the automotive enterprise have been impacted, manufacturing facilities have proven especially vulnerable because of the crucial link that human operators form in the vehicle production chain (Figure 1). Taking action to protect the health of these employees is challenging.

Human operators perform critical tasks in the vehicle production chain, making automotive production facilities especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figure 1: Human operators perform critical tasks in the vehicle production chain, making automotive production facilities especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today’s production lines were designed and optimised for a pre-pandemic world. Operators often worked in close physical proximity and shared tools, parts bins and other resources to complete their tasks. The measures necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, of course, invalidated many aspects of these production designs and optimisations.

The Challenges of Redesigning Production Facilities

Automotive companies had to quickly modify and adapt their production facilities to ensure the safety of their employees. While these changes are necessary, they can dramatically impact efficiency and output in a production facility. For example, production stations have to be redistributed across a production line to ensure that human operators remain at least six feet apart at all times during the performance of their duties. In addition, each operator must have their own tools and parts bins to prevent the spread of the disease via mutual contact with a surface or object. While seemingly small, these changes can greatly influence how human operators perform their duties, often slowing them down. Just the increased spacing between production stations can slow production down.

The changeover of employees between shifts also presents safety challenges. Manufacturers will need to ensure that workers are healthy when they arrive to work, and allow extra time between shifts to thoroughly clean stations and tools. These extended shift changes result in more production downtime and potentially could require plants to reduce the number of shifts they run in a day, further impacting productivity.

These and other effects of the pandemic have pushed companies to turn toward advanced manufacturing technologies to mitigate the shortcomings of socially distanced production lines and stations. Novel applications of technologies such as virtual reality, advanced robotics and additive manufacturing are enabling safer and more productive manufacturing facilities. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs), for example, can replace shared parts bins, delivering materials to production stations quickly and efficiently while facilitating physical distancing among human operators (Figure 2).

AGVs can help maintain physical distance between human operators by automating material delivery and other logistics tasks.

Figure 2: AGVs can help maintain physical distance between human operators by automating material delivery and other logistics tasks.

While these technological innovations have provided some relief, integrating them with existing facilities can create additional challenges. The implementation of new production processes or technologies can be costly. The redesigned production lines also must be tested, verified and validated to avoid issues as production comes back online. This is especially true at the junctures where old and new processes interact. Any problems that occur can lead to schedule overruns, delays in production ramp-up and increased cost.

It is not just original equipment manufacturers (OEMS) conforming to the new constraints of operating in response to a global pandemic. As OEMs determine how to modify their production design and strategy to account for social distancing measures, their suppliers, including Tier 1 and 2, are engaged in the same exercise. As all these companies adapt, digitalisation at the enterprise level has proven to be critical to bringing production back online safely, quickly and with greater resilience in preparation for crises of the future.

Digitalisation Enables a Smarter Way Forward

Digitalisation has helped companies to adapt their production facilities quickly to ensure social distancing and protect employee health. Modern software solutions enable production engineers to virtually plan and design production stations, lines and even entire facilities before physically implementing any changes (Figure 3). The virtual copy of a station, line or facility, known as a digital twin, can then be simulated to verify, validate, troubleshoot and optimise production designs for safety and efficiency before any machinery is commissioned or facilities reorganised. Virtual production planning and design solutions can even simulate human operators, enabling the production design to account for ergonomics and physical distancing requirements.

Digital manufacturing engineering solutions enable production facilities to be re-designed virtually. Recently, Siemens announced a new solution that helps manufacturers to simulate and manage employee exposure risks while enabling productivity throughout their facilities.

Figure 3: Digital manufacturing engineering solutions enable production facilities to be re-designed virtually. Recently, Siemens announced a new solution that helps manufacturers to simulate and manage employee exposure risks while enabling productivity throughout their facilities.

As facilities come back online and production ramps up, digital manufacturing operations management solutions have helped companies monitor and optimise the operation of their facilities. These solutions can gather production data from multiple sources and aggregate it into useful, contextualised reports. This data can then drive production scheduling optimisations, quality enhancements and more.

A robust digitalisation strategy, however, should extend beyond production design and management. Integrated solutions from product and production design through product lifecycle management (PLM), manufacturing operations management (MOM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) create a complete digital thread from product design into the supply chain. Such a comprehensive digital thread can help companies turn complexity, whether from operating during a pandemic or from the requirements of next generation products, into competitive advantage by streamlining operations and improving collaboration throughout their supply chains.

Nand Kochhar

Nand Kochhar

In particular, enabling more frequent and effective collaboration throughout the supply chain will be critical as OEMs and suppliers continue to recover production output and prepare for unforeseen future disruptions. Better communication among partners also will help enable OEMs and their suppliers to coordinate the ramp-up of production capabilities with market demand to avoid both excesses and shortages of product. Collaboration also facilitates the sharing of experiences and key lessons learned while adapting to the pandemic. These experiences can help inform disaster recovery plans, allowing companies to incorporate a realistic estimation of how they will react to emergency situations.

Building in Resilience Through Digitalisation

The COVID-19 pandemic has automotive manufacturing facilities and employees under particular strain. As the pandemic has progressed, automotive OEMs and suppliers have been challenged to reorganise and redesign their manufacturing facilities to keep their employees safe and healthy. Redesigning a production facility, however, is extremely difficult, and this is especially true under the pressure of responding to a major crisis.

Throughout the ongoing process of redesigning and restarting automotive manufacturing facilities, digitalisation has proven key to achieving safe and efficient production environments. Digitalised production design and simulation solutions enable engineers to quickly design and verify new configurations for production lines and stations, while MOM, PLM and ERP solutions enable greater insight into facility performance and supply chain logistics. Digitalisation has also helped automotive companies come together in a time of crisis to improve collaboration and learn from others’ experiences. As the industry continues to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lessons learned from these new partnerships will help the entire automotive industry become more resilient as they prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.

 

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[WATCH] Siemens Discusses Initiatives, Outlook Amid COVID-19

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WANT MORE INSIDER NEWS? SUBSCRIBE TO OUR DIGITAL MAGAZINE NOW!

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Empowering Manufacturing Transformation

Empowering Manufacturing Transformation

Through its suite of advanced and leading-edge technologies, Siemens not only helps companies digitalise to meet the needs of the new economy, but also empowers them to carry out smart innovations to succeed in the Industry 4.0 era. However, manufacturers should also focus on upskilling their workforce to fully realise the benefits of a digital factory. While new technologies possess great autonomy, humans must provide direction and control—and apart from overseeing technology, they are needed to gather, compare, analyse and apply data. Implementing Industry 4.0 technologies without knowing how to interpret, manage, and act on the insights leaves businesses with just a buzzword that has no real applicable value. There is a need for organisations to develop talent strategies, as well as build up staffing and training plans to meet the changing needs in terms of skills, job description and organisational models of the companies.

One way that Siemens is doing this is through its newly-launched Advance Manufacturing Transformation Centre (AMTC) in the Jurong Innovation District (JID) in Singapore. The AMTC is the first of its kind competence centre that provides guidance and support to manufacturing facilities in ASEAN on their journey of adoption, transition and transformation towards advanced manufacturing.

AMTC showcases state of the art Siemens digital enterprise solutions that will enable companies to create digital twin models of envisioned advance manufacturing plants. It also helps simulate, optimise and evaluate manufacturing operations before constructing the actual manufacturing facility.

Furthermore, AMTC houses Siemens’ first Additive Manufacturing Experience Center (AMEC) outside of Germany, where companies can experience an advance end-to-end additive manufacturing production line with their technology partners. Companies will be able to carry out prototyping and low-volume production with the support of on-site additive manufacturing experts, enabling a smooth transition and transformation to in-house advance manufacturing.

Aiding the Fight Against a Global Pandemic

Since the beginning of the year, the world has been grappling with a pandemic that has had an unprecedented impact in the global manufacturing supply chain, and each and everyone’s lives. However, despite its negative impact, the COVID-19 pandemic has given Industry 4.0 a booster jab—proving the necessity of innovation and digitalisation, as well as bringing down the resistance to change and collaborate, reducing the fear of new technologies, and accelerating the adoption of digital technologies.

This challenge has provided Siemens and its Industry 4.0 partners an opportunity to combine their strengths to locally develop and manufacture a face shield designed by Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) using additive manufacturing. This fully local collaboration saw the AMTC, supported by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), HP’s Smart Manufacturing Applications and Research Center (SMARC), and Mitsui Chemicals (Japan) come together to design, optimise and manufacture the face shields in an accelerated product introduction cycle of under two months. TTSH provided feedback during this process to ensure that the face shield provides comfort wear and allows ease of cleaning.

Through Siemens’ in-house additive manufacturing expertise and local network, the face shield design was optimised and printed using HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D technology with proprietary polyamide material, that is certified biocompatible by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Mitsui Chemical’s polyolefin coating that is approved for medical use.

In a statement, Benjamin Moey, Siemens’ Head of Additive Manufacturing, APAC, said, “This face shield project has proven the capabilities and benefits of additive manufacturing and Industry 4.0 technologies. It is exactly why Siemens set up the AMTC—we want to help companies to adopt advance manufacturing so as to be agile and competitive in today’s fast-changing economy.” According to Moey, Siemens’ strong and diverse ecosystem of partners allow industries to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 without the necessity of engineering from scratch each time, thus saving time and money. This is especially crucial and valuable during challenging times, such as the current COVID-19 situation.

Siemens will contribute in-kind the pilot batch of face shields to TTSH for internal use and evaluation so that TTSH can suggest any refinement, before the face shields will go into production.

Apart from this collaboration, Siemens has also opened its global additive manufacturing network to enable the efficient execution of design and printing requests by doctors, hospitals and suppliers of medical equipment in response to the ongoing global health crisis caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

Helping Skills Enhancement

Another issue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was the loss of jobs due to stalled economic activities driven by falling demand due to lockdowns, quarantines, and movement control orders in all markets worldwide.

Singapore has been no exception. Entering a technical recession after its economy shrank by 41.2% in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter, employment is expected to be impacted. In line with this, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has launched the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme in July as part of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. The programme aims to provide traineeships and training opportunities for mid-career jobseekers impacted by the economic consequences of COVID-19.

Under the programme, Siemens is partnering with SSG to launch the Advance Manufacturing (Additive Manufacturing) Learning Programme, an enterprise-based course package designed to provide trainees with up-to-date skillsets to stay relevant and better support the current wave of industrial companies undergoing digital transformation, with focus on industrial additive manufacturing (3D printing).

The course is organised into four block modules: the first three are component trainings looking at providing the basic foundation on key skillsets, namely, PLC programming, 3D design fundamentals and post processing basics;  which will prepare the trainees to undertake the final project module that could be supporting the implementation of an actual industrial project alongside Siemens specialists.

The focus topics were filtered in advance from Siemens’ 14 Corporate Core Technologies and taking into account the company’s priority ‘Make Digitalisation Work’:

  • MindSphere
  • Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence
  • Simulation & Digital Twin
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Cyber Security
  • Blockchain Applications

The six-month programme aims to equip the trainees key areas of know-how in understanding industrial digitalisation and the factory of the future, and provide the unique opportunity to apply these new skillsets to real industrial projects alongside Siemens experts.

Empowering the Future

The COVID-19 situation has forced industries to expedite manufacturing processes and programmes that otherwise would have taken more time to plan and execute in the past.

As the world faces a new normal, more businesses are expected to examine their operational set-up, explore areas that urgently require improvement, and embrace digitalisation to reshape their manufacturing and supply chains to be more productive, competitive, resilient and sustainable, while at the same time initiating programmes that would upskill the workforce to keep them up with these technology innovations. And Siemens will be along the way, empowering every stakeholder towards a better, digitalised future.

 

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[WATCH] Siemens Discusses Initiatives, Outlook Amid COVID-19

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WANT MORE INSIDER NEWS? SUBSCRIBE TO OUR DIGITAL MAGAZINE NOW!

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Manufacturing Industry In A Post-Pandemic World

Manufacturing Industry In A Post-Pandemic World

Now that markets are slowly opening up and manufacturing activities are gradually restarting, many are wondering how the manufacturing industry would look like, what the new requirements will be—for customers and suppliers alike—and what the manufacturing industry should do in this ‘new normal’. In this Outlook special, six industry leaders share their thoughts on what to expect, and how to navigate through the challenges in a post-pandemic environment.

Bystronic

Norbert Seo
Senior Vice President, Market Division Asia & Australia
Bystronic

We are yet to see the breadth and depth of the impact of COVID-19.  Economies are slowly opening, but there is an overhung of the second wave.  We are still in a quagmire of uncertainties, but after more than six months of descent, data shows that we are seeing recovery slowly play out.   

Recently, we see a changing outlook wherein business owners are deciding to invest in new machines in order to have full control of their manufacturing processes and minimize reliance on third party providers.  

Additionally, we are anticipating a shift from worker-dense shop floors into automated processing wherein production continues unhampered while lightly manned/operated.  Coronavirus has advanced the need for automation in factories.

We are living a new normal.  Companies who are most agile and able to adapt will eventually thrive in these new circumstances and I am determined that this will be the case for Bystronic. 

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence

Lim Boon Choon
SVP Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence
Korea, ASEAN, Pacific, India

 

The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the important role of technology in helping people and companies rapidly adapt to fast-changing and unforeseen circumstances. Most of us have personal experience of relying heavily on cloud-based communications and data transfer during lockdown to continue collaborating and doing business remotely. At Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, for example, we moved swiftly to provide our customers with the online support, training and software they needed to remain productive as they adopted new work practices driven by the need for social distancing, as well as changes to supply and demand within their industries. 

As manufacturing operations pick up again around the world, there is a clear desire among a growing number of our customers to accelerate their automation and digitalisation journey. Workplaces may look very different post-COVID-19, both on and off the shop floor. Among the changes we’re discussing with customers is a shift from on-premise systems to secure, automated, cloud-based systems that facilitate remote data analysis and exchange. 

At the same time the economic situation means manufacturers have to weigh up any capital expenditure plans extremely carefully. Technology will play a key role in helping companies remain competitive during challenging times, but businesses are only ready to invest in automation solutions if they demonstrate a clear business benefit and can deliver results quickly. The other message we’re hearing is the importance of providing open, scalable technology systems that give our customers the flexibility to evolve in line with new market requiremets. 

igus

Haecker Carsten
Head of Asia Pacific 
igus

Optimism for the year 2020 was surrounding our thoughts before the global COVID-19 impact brought several businesses to a standstill, selectively today fighting for survival. Optimism and motivation are what drives igus in the post-COVID-19 environments.

No doubt, the crisis has also impacted our global business outlook and order intake across various industries. However, it has taught us very valuable lessons and generated ample opportunities. The crisis will not end globalization. Rather, it will lead to the questioning of some of its assumptions. In particular, it highlights the need for shorter supply chains in critical areas and the relocation of some activities closer to ‘home’.

We learned from the crisis that the supply chain can be disrupted at any time. Now, we are learning that for other critical resources like pre-materials for medical supply, we also need to stockpile in case there is a cut in supply. This was demonstrated when we witnessed the global shortage of surgical masks and other medical essentials that were taken for granted during normal times. We have learned how vulnerable they are, how concentrated the supply capacity is, and how critical these products can be. Globalization will continue because it is of common interest.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 crisis has been accelerating the push to invest in new, labour-substituting technologies. Here, in particular, 3D printing technologies, cobot support, and factory automation with smart condition monitoring will see an accelerated demand to reduce dependency on humans.

igus motion plastics products are today used in several of these applications and will continue to play a major part in all motion and moving energy demand. We accelerated product development, we managed to change our way of working, we adapted quickly to changing needs, and we never stopped investing in growth, be it space or technology.

Our online tools are readily available and our products can be completely configured via our homepage and delivered within 24 hours. Our virtual booth, showcasing our latest 2020 innovations is online and the team is ready to welcome you. Any crisis generates opportunities—we are convinced to manage this for our customers!

Mastercam/CNC Software Inc.

Ben Mund
Senior Market Analyst
Mastercam/CNC Software Inc.

As developers of Mastercam CAD/CAM software, we talked with shops directly as the impact of COVID-19 began taking hold. Our global manufacturing community generally sees the post-pandemic process in three stages: assessment, refinement, and expansion.

The ‘assessment’ stage moved very quickly. Shops stopped most major (and even minor) expenditures, evaluated what business they could maintain, and worked with their partners as things started to go on hold.

Many shops we speak with have moved past assessment into the ‘refinement’ phase. This is where shops say they expect many lasting changes as they aggressively re-evaluate their processes. Examples include deeper looks into their machine and software capabilities to maximize existing investments, training up staff, and refining jobs they maintain during the crisis to ensure they are as efficient as possible when new work starts coming in.

When the ‘expansion’ phase begins, it is likely the efficiency and creativity shops built up during the crisis will mean smarter capital expenditures, broader skillsets, boosted productivity and more business flexibility. These are certainly lessons we as a company have also learned as we work with our manufacturing community to help prepare shops for the next steps.

Siemens ASEAN

Dr. Thai-Lai Pham
CEO
Siemens ASEAN

COVID-19 has given Industry 4.0 a booster jab—proving the necessity of innovation and digitalization. It has also brought down the resistance to change and collaborate, reduced the fear of new technologies, and accelerated the adoption of digital technologies.

For Siemens, our investment in digitalization in the last few years have allowed us to be in a position to contribute to the community during this crisis:

  1. In March, Siemens opened the Siemens Additive Manufacturing Network for hospitals and health organizations worldwide. This digital platform brings together suppliers and customers in the field of additive manufacturing to help print spare parts for medical devices.
  2. In Singapore, we helped a hotel group to build isolation rooms for guests tested positive for COVID-19. Our team supported with HVAC optimization, ensuring proper circulation of air to avoid any risks of virus-spread.

Both of these instances would probably have taken more time to plan and execute in the past. But the COVID-19 situation forced us to expedite the process.

Moving forward, I’d expect more businesses to examine their operational set-up, explore areas that urgently require improvement, and embrace digitalization to reshape their manufacturing and supply chains to be more productive, competitive, resilient and sustainable.

VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association)

Dr Wilfried Schäfer
Managing Director 
VDW

In 2019, the ten-year boom phase in the global machine tool industry had already come to an end. That was long before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Expectations for the development of the machine tool industry were characterized by a sharp drop in international demand for 2020. A decrease in production of 18 percent was forecast for Germany. 

From today’s perspective, this will not be sufficient. However, due to the uniqueness of the crisis, it is currently not possible to foresee which result the industry will obtain at the end of the current year. The companies are now working intensively to learn their lessons from the crisis and prepare for a new start.

The machine tool manufacturers, for example, are systematically pushing ahead with digitization internally in their own production and in cooperation with their customers. Now that travel has been restricted nationwide, it has proven to be very advantageous for a company to access its installed machine base online. That could be necessary, for example, to ensure service and maintenance or to install software updates. With the universal interface umati, manufacturers can also offer their customers added value in order to optimize their production. umati now stands for machine communication in the entire mechanical and plant engineering sector and is meeting with great interest worldwide.

COVID-19 has also shown that the organisation of a resilient production is important in order to ensure the company’s own ability to deliver. After supply chains were interrupted worldwide when more and more countries went into lockdown, the establishment of robust supply structures is becoming increasingly important. This applies both to the supply of intermediate products and components and the ability to manufacture certain core components in-house.

Finally, customer contact has been interrupted by the cancellation or postponement of many trade fairs worldwide. Trade fair organizers, trade journal publishers from our industry and individual companies quickly made an effort to offer alternatives. The VDW was one of them. With the METAV Web Sessions in mid-June, we succeeded in offering exhibitors a platform that, at least, allowed them to make virtual contact with their customers. These formats will be further developed in the future.

These are just three examples of several areas that will change. They have not to be reinvented but, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, they are increasingly gaining momentum. 

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[WATCH] APMEN Speaks On The Impact Of COVID-19 On ASEAN’s Metalworking Industries

[WATCH] APMEN Speaks On The Impact Of COVID-19 On ASEAN’s Metalworking Industries

In a webinar hosted by Taipei International Machine Tool Show (TIMTOS), Kenneth Tan, Publisher of Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) speaks about the impacts of the pandemic on ASEAN’s metalworking industries, including the automotive, and aerospace & MRO sectors and what we can expect in the post COVID-19 era.

Besides the ASEAN region, the webinar, organised by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), also addresses the impact of COVID-19 in the European and US markets. Other speakers include Gabriel Pankow, Head of Digital Editorial Office of mi connect and Michael Vaughn, Chief Consultant of Indiana Research Institute.

Watch the full webinar here:

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Renishaw Sees Continued Demand For Accuracy And Precision Driving Growth

Renishaw Sees Continued Demand for Accuracy and Precision Driving Growth

Steve Bell of Renishaw ASEAN talks about their activities in Thailand and provides his insights on the trend towards electric vehicles.

Steve Bell

Renishaw is one of the leading providers of precision measurement and sensor technologies worldwide. Based in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, the company has 4,500 employees located in the 36 countries where it has wholly owned subsidiary operations.

At the recent METALEX 2019 trade exhibition in Bangkok, Thailand, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) sat down with Steve Bell, general manager for ASEAN at Renishaw, to talk about their Thailand market, and the industries they are looking at in the region.

READ: Renishaw Ramps Up Production Of Ventilator Components

“We’ve been in Thailand for over 25 years now,” says Bell. “During that time, there have been a lot of changes in Thailand, particularly economically and politically. But generally, through it all Thailand has maintained steady growth. The last couple of years have been something of an exception with the economy being a little flat, but we do now see signs of the market looking up again.”

At METALEX, Renishaw showcased a similar concept they did at the recent Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific (ITAP) 2019 event in Singapore, where they highlighted end-to-end manufacturing of aerospace parts – from initial additive manufacturing, through machining to final assembly – with process and quality control built into every stage. For the Thailand show, the focus is on automotive, rather than aerospace.

READ: Sandvik And Renishaw Collaborate To Qualify New AM Materials

“We are showing automotive parts. Our aim is to show how Renishaw can provide end-to-end solutions—when it comes to Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, we have the tools to contribute to that drive. Here at Metalex, we are showing the complete story of a component, starting from additive manufacturing, making parts lighter while retaining strength through metal 3D printing parts with a lattice work, largely hollow internal construction. Next up is a calibration station, basically illustrating that before you start the process of manufacturing, you have to ensure that the machines you plan to use are accurate, repeatable and fit for the purpose. Precision machining of critical tight tolerance features follows with on-machine probing and toolsetting being used to set up the part and set the tools to be used. The machine tool is hooked up to an Equator automated flexible gauge which inspects key features of the parts coming off the machine, analyses the trend of results and automatically updates tool offsets in the machine tool control to keep the process within tolerance levels. Lastly, we reach final inspection where we’re showing a CMM with the latest REVO five-axis system,” explains Bell.

Automotive Industry

According to Bell, the automotive manufacturing industry is currently rather flat in Thailand but it remains a key sector for Thailand. “Many of our customers are in Thailand are involved directly in the automotive industry –  that’s why we’ve chosen to feature automotive parts here,” he explains. “We are also beginning to a lot of discussion on additive manufacturing in Thailand. There are a number of projects that we are pursuing in that area. Another big growth area for Renishaw in Thailand is the Equator automated gauging line. We are seeing a lot of manufacturers — particularly Japanese high volume part producers — who have embraced Equator technology and are now using it quite significantly in their manufacturing processes.”

READ: Renishaw Shares Outlook On Vietnam And Philippines

Bell pointed out the maturity of Thailand’s manufacturing industry demonstrated the willingness to adopt and utilize Renishaw’s advanced solutions. “The market is of course driven by our end-user customers. There is a demand for high-quality products, for high-precision parts,” he explains. “And where there is that demand, manufacturers are looking for ways to achieve quality and accuracy … and to become more profitable as they do so. Therefore, products like the Equator gauge are absolutely right for the customers we deal with in Thailand.”

(Editor’s Note: This interview took place in November 2019—months before the COVID-19 outbreak caused a significant impact in the industrial manufacturing landscape.)

 

To continue reading about Thailand’s EV Vehicle development and the outlook for 2020, head on over to our ebook!

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WALTER EWAG’s Michael Schmid On Thailand, Trends, And Future Of Grinding Industry

WALTER EWAG’s Michael Schmid on Thailand, Trends, and Future of Grinding Industry

Michael Schmid of WALTER EWAG discusses the Thailand market, opportunities and challenges, and trends shaping the metalworking industry in the region. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Michael Schmid

WALTER EWAG Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, part of the United Grinding Group headquartered in Bern, Switzerland, specialises in tool grinding, laser machining, eroding, measurement, and software. Its machines are used in fields such as the watch industry, the dental, electrical, automotive and aviation industries, as well as in the manufacture of precision micro-components.

READ: Reducing Cost-Per-Part of Your Tools

WALTER EWAG is a system and solutions provider for complete tool machining. It offers an extensive product range  for manufacturing  and re-grinding  of rotation symmetrical  tools and inserts made of tungsten carbide, HSS , PCD PCBN   or any other super hard materials  like MCD , CWD and even natural diamonds.

At the recent METALEX 2019 event in Thailand, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News sat down with Michael Schmid, managing director of WALTER EWAG in Singapore, to discuss the Thailand market, opportunities and challenges, and trends shaping the metalworking industry in the region.

WHAT ARE YOUR ACTIVITIES IN THAILAND?

Michael Schmid (MS): We have been doing business in Thailand for more than 20 years now. In fact, we installed our first CNC machines here in Thailand in 1996.

Currently, we have a training and demo centre in the country, where we do test cuts and demonstrations for customers. Our customer care, service engineers, and applications specialists, are all based here.

READ: Walter Enables Automatic Detection and Alignment of Tools and Blanks

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE YOU SEEING IN THAILAND, AND WHICH INDUSTRIES ARE DRIVING GROWTH?

MS: With our substantial product portfolio and the specialised team of technicians, we can actually cater to all needs in terms of tool making and resharpening required in the industrial environment—which Thailand has, such as the automotive, aerospace, semiconductor, and all kinds of metalworking industry.

WHAT ARE TOP CHALLENGES OF YOUR CUSTOMERS?

MS: Some of the challenges are finding skilled people and developing know-how in cutting tool technology. But also, major challenges include productivity and quality, and being innovative in tool design.

READ: Walter Strengthens Tool Offering With Acquisition Of Melin Tool Company

HOW ARE YOU HELPING CUSTOMERS ADDRESS THESE ISSUES?

MS: Our aim is to help customers, educate them, and train them, through our software and machine design. There are a lot of possibilities to be creative. We help them become more creative in utilising our machines.

WHAT MAKES YOUR PRODUCTS UNIQUE IN THE MARKET?

MS: If you look, for example, at our Helitronic Series, these machines are extremely  powerful and  have  very unique and efficient kinematics, which provides an ultimate stability and accuracy. All  that, together with our in-house developed Tool Studio software, open all kind of possibilities in terms of flexibility, dynamics and performance for our customers in today’s modern tool manufacturing  world.

READ: A Look at Walter’s Two-in-One Machining Concept

Last but not least our  tool grinding know how of over 50 years  has of course  influenced our todays  products in  unique way  as well.

WHAT TRENDS ARE SHAPING THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY RIGHT NOW?

MS: One of the big topics is Industry 4.0.  In this show, VDW is having a presentation about umati, a standardised interface linking machines. Besides that, of course, automation is always an issue. Lights-out production, smart manufacturing—these are something we hear every day from our customers, and a lot of companies are now working towards this. Apart from that, there are also new, innovative tool geometries, machines, tools, software—there’s a lot of possibility to change.

Of course, there are also new materials coming—lighter materials for e-mobility, for example. There industry is changing a lot—and I think that’s the interesting part in our business.

WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THIS YEAR?

MS: I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I also can’t be too optimistic, because when I talk to people here at the show, and the customers throughout the year, we saw some declines here and there. But some industries are still doing well.

READ: Tools At The Touch Of A Button

It will be an interesting time to come in the next six to 12 months, because of all the changes happening. Maybe, we’ll have more time to think about new things for the industry. Considering this, I would not say it will be bad; I would say let us be all optimistic and look forward to a promising, interesting time.

Like I said, in the last years, we’ve been very busy. Maybe, now we have a little bit of time to think about how to do things differently, how to increase our efficiency; I think it should be a target for everybody because, if there is a crisis coming, and we get out of it, we should be fresh, more efficient, and more powerful.

 

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Powering Additive Manufacturing With Data Analytics

Powering Additive Manufacturing With Data Analytics

In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking News, Dr. Mohsen Seifi, Director of Global Additive Manufacturing Programs at ASTM International, discusses the benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) in manufacturing and the role of data analytics in AM.

Dr. Mohsen Seifi, Director of Global Additive Manufacturing Programs, ASTM International

  1. Tell us more about ASTM International, for those who may not be familiar with the organisation.

ASTM International is one of the world’s leading standards development organisations, founded in 1898.  We have 150 technical committees that oversee about 13,000 standards that are widely used around the world.  Several of those committees are in emerging industries, including one for additive manufacturing technology that now has nearly 1,000 members, known as F42.  For over a decade, this group of the world’s top additive manufacturing experts has been meeting and working through ASTM to develop groundbreaking standards that have begun to form the technical foundation for the future of additive manufacturing.  Furthermore, ASTM International has made a dramatic investment in front-end research to develop even more standards through our Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, a network of high-profile partners around the globe which includes Singapore’s National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC).  Please visit our website for more detailed information.

  1. In the Industry 4.0 era, greater efficiency and product innovation are key priorities for manufacturers. How can they leverage additive manufacturing/3D printing to achieve both?

A big challenge for manufacturers is the lack of communication between stakeholders at different steps in the process chain. Smart, digital manufacturing could allow manufacturers to effectively transfer the most relevant information across all stages of product development, from designers to end-users. Additive Manufacturing is an integral part of Industry 4.0 and is an excellent technology for product innovation that could significantly reduce the time for product development through iterative design capabilities.

Also, Additive manufacturing can substantially improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process by parts consolidation. This will enhance the effectiveness of a system as a whole in terms of weight reduction, material optimisation, and reduction in fuel consumption.  For AM, digital manufacturing means integrating physical system-oriented manufacturing with digital system-oriented Industry 4.0 technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence (AI), big data, robotics, cybersecurity, and Internet of Things [IoT]). To fully unlock the potential of smart, digital manufacturing, there are still issues to address, which include cybersecurity concerns, data management challenges, and other critical gaps. ASTM uses various roadmaps to develop standards to address these gaps and to meet the industry needs.

  1. Which end-markets do you see increasing adoption of additive manufacturing?

AM has the potential to impact all manufacturing-related sectors—from aerospace, medical and automotive to oil/gas, maritime and other sectors—and we anticipate adoption will increase exponentially across the board in the next 10 years. In particular, AM holds great promise for aerospace/defense and medical applications. Both of these sectors require complex, specialised parts, which AM is capable of producing. More importantly, the demand for AM qualification and certification in these high-tech areas/end-markets is high. This is because successful qualification and certification provide end-market users with increased confidence (i.e., improvements in quality and reduced safety concerns). According to a recent survey, the three most significant challenges to adoption of AM for end-market users over the next ten years are: 1) the certification of finished parts and products, hindering its mainstream commercial uptake in the future; 2) the quality and standardisation of material inputs; and 3) unknown quality of printed components.

  1. What are the biggest challenges when it comes to additive manufacturing?

As an emerging field, the AM industry still needs a shared language and framework for addressing problems. Lack of standards is one of the biggest challenges for additive manufacturing in addition to other challenges such as lack of qualified workforce, limited availability of materials, and the lack of full-fledged certification programs. Standards provide a common reference point to help the industry avoid the time and expense of solving problems by trial and error. For example, there is an ongoing need for a better understanding of feedstock properties, methods for in-process monitoring and control, machine-to-machine variation, and rapid inspection methods for AM parts, among other topics. In addition, standards are a key enabler of the qualification and certification procedures that were mentioned above.

To accelerate the development of standards to address these challenges, we launched the AM Center of Excellence (CoE), a collaborative partnership among industry, academia, and government that integrates research and development (R&D) with standards development. By initiating R&D projects that target specific high-priority standards needs, I believe we can speed the overall advancement and adoption of AM technologies. Detailed information will be available in our upcoming external R&D roadmap, which will be released this spring. In the meantime, our annual report provides an overview of the AM CoE’s activities.

  1. Why is analytics a feasible solution?

One benefit of analytics is that it presents decision-makers with the key information required to make informed decisions. Manufacturers have access to a wealth of data about their products and processes but are not always able to use it. Analytics is a great tool to convert data into actionable knowledge that can be used to optimise product development. In the case of AM, solutions such as data-enabled material screening, build monitoring, and post-build characterisation ensure the product meets its specifications with as few iterations as possible, helping minimise production time and cost.

  1. How will data analytics make additive manufacturing more efficient?

AM generates more data than any other manufacturing field—this data has great value, but there are challenges to extracting useful information. Structuring data in a way that adheres to FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) will be vital to the success of AM. Data analytics holds the key to processing and making sense of vast stores of data, which will ultimately accelerate the AM development timeline. Data analytics is a solution that cuts across all sectors and is already shaping the future of technology as we know it.

Through AI, which encompasses machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL), the AM industry can quickly decode quantitative structure/process/property/performance relationships, which is a core challenge in the AM field. For example, it is possible to use AI to sift through potential AM materials to find those with optimal properties or functionalities. AI can also enable data-driven in-situ/real-time monitoring for identifying better processes. However, to enable these data-driven advances, the AM community needs an AM data ecosystem that enables the easy and secure generation, storage, analysis, and sharing of data. ASTM and America Makes recently convened a workshop on manufacturing data management and schema to identify and prioritise challenges and potential solutions for strengthening the AM data ecosystem.

  1. What is your outlook for additive manufacturing/3D printing this year?

It is very hard to predict the future of AM because technology is rapidly changing, but I would like to see 2020 as the year of standards. There is an exciting opportunity for more integration between AM and other elements of industry 4.0, in terms of automation, robotics, cybersecurity, and big data—creating these links is a great way to connect the physical world and digital world. I believe that the best way to create synergy between these critical technologies is through standardisation to add trust. The more we can focus on developing standards, the sooner we can see these advances.

 

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Hexagon Discusses Opportunities For Growth In Philippine Metrology Market

Hexagon Discusses Opportunities For Growth In Philippine Metrology Market

Taveesak Srisuntisuk of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence speaks about the metalworking trends and opportunities for growth in the Philippines. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, part of Hexagon AB, helps industrial manufacturers develop the disruptive technologies of today and the life-changing products of tomorrow. A leading provider of metrology and manufacturing solutions, Hexagon’s expertise in sensing, thinking and acting—the collection, analysis and active use of measurement data—gives its customers the confidence to increase production speed and accelerate productivity while enhancing product quality.

At the recent PDMEX 2019 event, Taveesak Srisuntisuk, General Manager of the AEC and Pacific Region for Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, speaks about the metalworking trends and opportunities for growth in the Philippines.

Tell us about your activities in the Philippines.

Taveesak Srisuntisuk (TS): We are a provider of 3D measuring machines—all kinds of three-dimension measuring machines, not only the traditional CMM that uses tactile probes. We also have vision measuring machine, multisensor measuring machine, portable measuring arms with laser tracker, white light scanner systems, and so on.

We are in the quality control business, but we are more and more getting involved into manufacturing because we also have hardware for the machine tools, software for design, CAD/CAM, and so on. We can see that quality control still has a very good opportunity for improvement here. In other countries, we are already well known when it comes to quality. Quality also can increase productivity—and here, we can see the same direction.

Which industries here are you seeing strong growth?

TS: We have been in the Philippine market for many years. In fact, I have been taking care of the Philippine market since 2010. And yes, we see the market growing, but maybe not as much as its peers in Southeast Asia. There are a variety of industries here—mould and die, electronics, aerospace, and automotive. While we don’t see any specific industry that is growing rapidly at the moment, we can see growth especially in the mould and die, and electronics markets.

With the trade war happening between China and the United States, we are seeing some comments that the Philippines is also getting opportunities from Chinese investments here.

Are you seeing smart factory adoption in the Philippine metalworking industry?

TS: Not a lot of customers are mentioning these things. In Southeast Asia, the countries that talk more about smart manufacturing or Industry 4.0 are Singapore and Malaysia. But we definitely need to speak to the customers, we need to show them that Hexagon is one of the companies that are involved in this trend. All our devices support the smart factory trend.

 

How do you help customers move toward smarter manufacturing?

TS: We offer our customers smart solutions so that if they decided to do something tomorrow, their processes will be smarter. We always ensure that our software, hardware and products will help customers in transforming their production processes.

Tell us some of the products being highlighted here.

TS: Our devices can be integrated into a smart factory environment. We are showcasing our traditional CMMs, we have two CMMs here: one is with the scanning, and the other is with the traditional tactile probe. We have the portable measuring arm, a vision machine, as well as a new product, which we are showcasing here first time—the laser tracker with scanner.

How do you encourage small- and medium-sized job shops to adopt high-end solutions?

TS: Even if they are job shops, they are providing a service to somebody. And they have to ensure that their manufactured parts are good. The trend now is towards digitalization. Even the job shops, they can reduce a lot of work by investing not in high-end systems yet, but in entry level solutions.

However, in this market, you also have multinational companies such as Nidec Philippines, Hyundai Philippines, and so on. These are the companies that we are supporting in many countries as well. So, both customer sides—multinational companies and job shops—we are all supporting here in the Philippines.

What advice would you give customers when it comes to selecting measurement solutions?

TS: For the measuring machine, the most important is the accuracy they need. If they need more than 20 microns, they can use portable arm scanners. If they have a lot of work related to geometry, then maybe a CMM can help them. If there’s a lot of 3D, or CAD/CAM design and so on, a scanner solution would be the best.

We need to know their requirements—only then can we offer the right solutions for them. We have many kinds of 3D measuring machines to offer, but we have to know their applications, what they need, before we can ascertain the correct solutions.

Finally, what is your outlook for the metalworking industry next year?

TS: It’s very difficult to forecast because now, in Southeast Asia, even if we are becoming one community—AEC or ASEAN Economic Community—but we are still competing against each other. The governments are trying to showcase their benefits and bringing the foreign investments in their countries.

I can say that the Philippines is one of the markets we are seeing growth, especially now that the government is becoming more stable, leading to the market becoming more attractive for investments. We just hope that the country will really sustain its good growth.

 

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