Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Dr Christian Kober, Senior Vice President Asia at Hoffmann regarding current trends in machine tooling.
Could you provide us with an overview of the trends that are shaping machine tools in the metalworking industry?
The machine tool industry is at the heart of Industry 4.0. Globally, labour cost is on the rise, even in so called ‘low cost countries’ and efficiency is coming to the forefront. Efficiency means not only the speed of machining, but also continuously looking at retooling times and how to improve them. Efficient machine usage would require the appropriate tools available at the right time and in the right quality. Gains might be incremental or worse when taking increasing time and labour cost pressures into account.
How has Hoffmann kept up with these trends?
Hoffmann is actually central to these trends. Hoffmann provides industrial quality tools and quality tested items, own brand and from third party suppliers. This allows the customer of machine tool makers to focus on his core competences rather than wasting time and effort on sourcing the right quality C-items. Hoffmann also supports modern tool management with tool dispensing systems like our Tool24 and PickOne systems, making traditional tool counters inside the factory unnecessary. An efficient supply chain ensures that modern machine tools can reach their full productivity potential.
Our Garant ZeroClamp systems allows the most rapid changing of workpieces, saving expensive machine and worktime. We will continue to improve this system while adding additional services like repair service and customised base plates.
What are some challenges faced by this industry?
3D printing will be an obvious challenge to this industry. Currently 3D printing cannot fulfil the volume requirements of large-scale production and also rely on relatively expensive raw materials. However, similar to other disruptive technologies, change might happen fast.
How can they be overcome?
The machine tool industry has to face these realities by clearly understanding which areas will face disruption, which 3D printed articles will still require post processing and where new opportunities might arise for modern machining—be it in glass processing or increased processing of high-density engineering plastics.
Moving forward, what do you think is the outlook of the machine tool industry in the next five to 10 years?
In the coming year, the machine tool industry will continue to face pressure to be more completely integrated into the supply chain of their customers, with tooling machines being integrated into electronic supply chains, reordering processes and sensor technologies tightly supervising wear and tear, leading to higher levels of automatisation and the use of robots to replace human labour. Thus, from the perspective of a customer, the machines will become more capital intensive and increasing in utilisation requirements.
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