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EuroBLECH 2018: Post Show Review

EuroBLECH 2018: Post Show Review

The 25th International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition, EuroBLECH 2018, ended last week after four successful show days. A total of 56,301 visitors from around the world came to Hannover to get an overview of the latest innovations and digital technologies for sheet metal working and to invest in new manufacturing machinery. A total of 1,507 companies from 40 countries exhibited at this year’s show.

“There was a great atmosphere at the show, with an excellent mood on the exhibitor side as well as the visitor side. Many exhibitors presented themselves this year with even more impressive stands. They showcased an enormous variety of new machinery and innovative solutions, and many of these were, once again, demonstrated live at the exhibition stands”, said Evelyn Warwick, EuroBLECH Exhibition Director, on behalf of the organisers Mack Brooks Exhibitions. She also added that, “there was a noticeable technological advancement within the last two years. Many exhibitors demonstrated how well the industry is prepared for digitalisation and how these new technologies can be used within a manufacturing environment.”

“We are very pleased with the positive results of EuroBLECH 2018, which, compared to the previous exhibition, attracted a consistently high visitor number across the four show days from Tuesday to Friday. Therefore, EuroBLECH 2018 ends with a record floor space of 89,875 net square metres and a sustainable visitor figure, which of course is also due to the booming industry. Many exhibitors reported positive sales figures”, concluded Warwick.

A total of 58 percent of exhibitors came from outside Germany at this year’s show. This represents a further increase in international attendance by four percent. The preliminary results of the exhibition survey show that 37 percent of visitors came to EuroBLECH from outside Germany, resulting once again in good international visitor attendance. Major visitor countries, next to Germany, included Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, India, Great Britain, Poland, Austria and Belgium.

A great majority of the visitors came from the industry (73 percent), followed by visitors from workshops, trade and services. The most important sectors visitors belonged to include engineering, sheet metal & products, steel and aluminium construction, the automotive industry and its suppliers, electrical engineering, iron and steel production as well as rolling mills and heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology.

97 percent of the visitors were also from the trade and besides the high number of international visitors, the exhibition could, once again, register a high percentage of visitors from the top management with decision-making and buying capacity. The percentage of visitors involved in decision-making was almost consistent at 79 percent.

The preliminary results of the exhibition survey show that both exhibitors and visitors at this year’s EuroBLECH were highly satisfied. The visitors praised the comprehensiveness and international range of the products on display as well as the quality of the exhibition stands and the many live demonstrations of digital processes. The exhibitors praised the qualified and international audience with its high percentage of decision-makers. The exhibitors also stated that they had made a large number of new business contacts. More than 70 percent of all exhibitors stated on-site that they intended to exhibit again at the next EuroBLECH in 2020, which will take place from 27 – 30 October 2020 at the Hanover Exhibition Grounds in Germany.

In addition to EuroBLECH, Mack Brooks Exhibitions is organising a range of sheet metal working exhibitions in different markets: the next BLECH India will take place from 25 – 27 April 2019 in Mumbai. AsiaBLECH 2019 will be held in Chengdu City from 20 – 22 November 2019. The first BLECH France is taking place from 21 – 23 January 2020 in Paris, France.

Winners Of The EuroBLECH 2018 Online Competition

Once again, EuroBLECH put innovative technologies and a professional audience in the focus with this year’s EuroBLECH Online Competition. “Step into the digital reality” was the theme of the awards and the winners were chosen online by the sheet metal working community. The winners were officially awarded with a trophy on the second day of the show.

TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG won the award in the category “Digital Transformation” for their indoor localisation system, Track&Trace, which is based on Ultra Wide Band Technology (UWB) and can determine the unambiguous position of markers in real time with the help of satellites.

In the category “Best Start-Up”, Fractory Solutions OÜ from Estonia received the award for the development of their on-demand sheet metal manufacturing platform Fractory.co which streamlines the outsourcing process. Through this platform, customers can get instant quotes and lead times by uploading a CAD drawing which makes the ordering process ten times faster and more economical.

Q-Fin Quality Finishing received the award in the category “E-Mobility”. They presented their “F200 XL” which was designed for the deburring, grinding and edge rounding of very small, light sheet metal parts.

Further information about EuroBLECH as well as new videos and pictures of the show are available on the show website: www.euroblech.com.

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EuroBLECH 2018: Trumpf Showcases Autonomous Factory And Logistical Innovations

EuroBLECH 2018: Trumpf Showcases Autonomous Factory And Logistical Innovations

GERMANY: Trumpf will be showcasing numerous solutions for autonomous factories at EuroBLECH 2018 in Hannover. The company is set to present a range of digitally connected applications for sheet metal processing that are designed to make manufacturing processes simpler and more efficient. “As they become increasingly autonomous, our machines are taking on more tasks and making life easier for the people who work with them. But you can only unlock these benefits with a connected, intelligent production environment. That’s what enables us to achieve productivity gains and secure our customers’ competitive edge – and artificial intelligence is the key,” says Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, Chief Executive Officer Machine Tools at Trumpf. Prokop notes that there is now little to be gained by striving for ever higher laser power. Instead, the focus should be on connected machines and the processes that occur upstream and downstream from the actual production process. Combined with intelligent data analysis, he argues that this is where the biggest productivity gains can be achieved.

Assistance Systems Makes Processes More Reliable

Trumpf has already laid the foundations for the autonomous factory by including numerous assistance systems in its machines. One example that makes cutting processes more reliable is Smart Collision Prevention. This function’s programming already takes account of tilting parts and then develops a processing strategy in its calculations to avoid collisions with the cutting head. More and more machine functions now control processes autonomously. One example is Smart Nozzle Automation, a function that periodically inspects the nozzle and automatically replaces it if it is damaged. And that’s not the only milestone on the path toward autonomous laser cutting that Trumpf is showcasing at this year’s EuroBLECH in Hannover.

Self-Learning Machines

The fully automatic TruLaser Center 7030 laser system takes the whole concept of autonomous machines to the next level. From programming to part sorting, everything it does is completely automated. “We’ve already started using intelligent data analysis to improve the processes executed by this machine. By incorporating customer feedback in the form of data, our aim is to steadily perfect the entire system. Artificial intelligence is the next stage of Industry 4.0,” says Thomas Schneider, who heads up machine tool development at Trumpf. A good example is the machine’s unloading unit. The pins that lift the sheet out of the scrap skeleton are designed to ensure efficient and reliable part removal using suction cups. If the pins fail to get it right the first time around, the machine initiates a new part removal cycle on its own, without requiring any intervention. It then repeats this cycle as many times as necessary until it works. The machine processes and assimilates each of these retry attempts and learns from them.

Smart Factory, Intelligent Logistics

Trumpf will also be presenting a connected intra-logistics solution at EuroBLECH, something that Trumpf has already tested successfully at its Industry 4.0 showcase factory and at selected customer locations. The solution improves the logistics processes that run on the shop floor, for example the routing of parts from one processing station to the next. “Customers participating in our product testing program have sometimes made five-figure savings by deploying our indoor localisation system,” said Schneider. “It enables them to reduce search times and prioritise jobs in an intelligent fashion.” This is steadily becoming more important because batch sizes are shrinking and sheet metal fabricators are increasingly struggling to keep track of jobs throughout the entire production process. At the same time, the sheet metal fabricators’ customers want to know what stage their order has reached, which is a level of transparency they have come to expect from doing business online. The indoor localisation system enables customers to manage their production processes more efficiently and satisfy their own customers’ expectations.

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EuroBLECH 2018 Launches In Hannover

EuroBLECH 2018 Launches In Hannover

GERMANY: EuroBLECH 2018, the 25th International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition, has opened its doors at the Hannover Exhibition Centre in Germany. Until Friday, the 26th October 2018, a total of 1,507 exhibitors from 40 countries will present the latest technologies along the entire sheet metal processing chain. With a net exhibition space of 89,875 square metres, this year’s EuroBLECH has further grown in exhibition space by 2,000 square metres, compared to the last event in 2016.

This year, 58% of exhibitors at EuroBLECH come from outside Germany. The percentage of international exhibiting companies has thus increased by a further 4% with the biggest exhibitor countries coming from Germany, Italy, China, Turkey, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, the USA and Austria.

For this year’s 25th edition of EuroBLECH, the main topics are Industry 4.0, big data and digitalisation. These new trends and developments offer advantages in terms of new business approaches, streamlining and simplifying processes as well as the improvement of productivity and efficiency. Therefore, the organisers, Mack Brooks Exhibitions, have chosen the motto ‘Step into the digital reality’ as the overall theme of EuroBLECH 2018. Visitors can expect the most comprehensive technology range in terms of industrial digitalisation of sheet metal working at the show this year.

EuroBLECH will also present the entire sheet metal working technology chain, ranging from high tech systems to conventional machinery. This covers sheet metal, semi-finished and finished products, handling, separation, forming, flexible sheet metal working, joining, welding and surface treatment, processing of hybrid structures, tools, additive manufacturing, quality control, CAD/CAM/CIM systems and R&D. The show attracts sheet metal working specialists at all management levels in small and medium-sized companies as well as in large enterprises. Visitors include design engineers, production managers, quality managers, buyers, manufacturers, technical directors and experts from associations and R&D.

EuroBLECH Awards Ceremony

The winners of the EuroBLECH Online Competition ‘Step into the digital reality’ will receive their prizes at the official awards ceremony. The ceremony will take place on Wednesday 24th October 2018, at 14.00 hrs, in Hall 16, Stand C51. Prizes will be awarded in the following three categories: Digital Transformation, Best Start-Up and E-Mobility.

More information on EuroBLECH can be found at: www.euroblech.com.

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EuroBLECH 2018: Enormous Potential In Digitalisation For Sheet Metal Working Companies

EuroBLECH 2018: Enormous Potential In Digitalisation For Sheet Metal Working Companies

Hanover, Germany: This year’s 25th International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition will take place from 23rd – 26th October 2018 in Hanover, Germany. A total of 1,500 exhibitors from 39 countries secured their stand at the world’s leading sheet metal working technology exhibition. This year, the show is mainly influenced by the topics Digitalisation and Industry 4.0. The Online Show Preview, which was recently published, provides an overview of new products and technological innovations which will be presented at the show in October.

EuroBLECH will feature main topics are Industry 4.0, big data and digitalisation. Especially for small and medium-sized companies these developments offer enormous potential. These new business approaches offer advantages in terms of streamlined and less complex processes as well as improvement of productivity and efficiency. “While an app for maintenance control of machines or the interaction of machines and robots across the whole production process were still a vision of the future a couple of years ago, today this is the reality in sheet metal working. Currently, not only large companies are gaining ground in this area, SMEs have also recognised their potential here.

Digitalisation, E-mobility, Lightweight construction – these topics currently play a crucial role in the sheet metal working industry. Networked manufacturing is a key development in Industry 4.0 to increase productivity and reduce downtime of machines. E-mobility bears a lot of challenges for sheet metal working, due to the different manufacturing processes and materials required for electric cars. This goes hand in hand with lightweight construction, where composites and new technologies become increasingly important and bear certain challenges when joining or separating materials.

Where Are You Going Industry 4.0?

Where Are You Going Industry 4.0?

When Industry 4.0 took off in Germany it rapidly made it to the headlines. With the digital agenda of the federal government it received highest political priority. But where stands Industry 4.0 in reality? By Dipl-Ing Nikolaus Fecht and Dr Andreas Thoss on behalf of EuroBLECH.

Theory describes Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution as full integration of production and communication technologies. It creates a so-called “smart factory”, where people, machines and processes are well connected by internet technologies for the purpose of increased cost efficiency, higher process stability and greater flexibility. After all, technological innovations should save time and money.

How does that look in real life? On one hand, there is an approach to scrutinise whole factories and to re-think and optimise all processes, from the first customer request to after-sales services. On the other hand many SMEs offer solutions for separate business processes. With special software tools, efficiency can be increased dramatically. Beside consequent digitisation of processes, there is a second trend coming up: While product lines are unified the single product is increasingly personalised. While this can lead to smaller lot sizes (even down to one), the new tools will help to retain profitability even then.

A Management Issue

Friedhelm Loh, the sole proprietor of the Friedhelm Loh Group with more than 11,000 employers, spoke on his experiences with the introduction of Industry 4.0 in the Rittal, Germany, factory for industrial control cabinets.

The product portfolio had been adjusted, until 2015 they reduced the number of products from 465 to 110. Five product lines were combined into one. In future, customers will define their purchase using an online configurator. The data from this configurator tool go directly into SAP and NC programmes. From initial material supply up to final distribution all logistic processes are fully automated. The whole process from “customer to customer” is digitally organised.

The cost savings in the process steps are between 15 percent (purchasing and sales department, after-sales service) and 50 percent (manufacturing). Mr Loh’s conclusion: “Only an integrated end-to-end solution which is consistently based on configuration and data, results in a continuous process.”

Within the Trumpf group, a new production unit Sheet Metal Processing has been set up as a fully connected factory. It is comparable to a conventional sheet metal job shop which is completely converted into a smart factory. They use and develop software tools from Trumpf ‘s proprietary solution portfolio TruConnect and their digital business platform Axoom. For a further optimisation of the production process they introduced a MES (Manufacturing Execution System)-system from the TruConnect tool box.

As the heart of the production planning, it evaluates the machine conditions and allows a paper free production with digital accompanying documents. Also, the topic intra-logistics will be optimised towards Industry 4.0 to automatise error-prone routine tasks.

Solutions For All

Not every company can or wants to implement Industry 4.0 in the form of an entire new factory. Today there are many solutions for separate processes, which serve the idea of higher efficiency by connectivity and specialised software.

It starts with indirect processes, that are all the steps in a job that take place before or after the actual manufacturing of the part, regardless of the batch size. As batch sizes shrink due to increasing individualisation, these indirect processes are no longer in proportion to the actual productive work (ie: production itself).

A study conducted by Fraunhofer-IPA (S-Tec) in collaboration with Trumpf found out that the costs for material planning may shrink by up to 75 percent in a smart factory surrounding.

Dominik Weibel and Marco Wüst, two Swiss entrepreneurs, have implemented a similar tool for a sheet metal processing job shop. Within their company eMDe Blechfabrik AG they developed an online system based on Trumpf’s online quotation calculator WebCalculate. Here customers can upload drawings and set material parameters and they receive a full quotation immediately.

After placing an order, customers can track the order throughout all processing steps including delivery. eMDe saves a lot of time with small lot sizes and retains an opportunity for price negotiations with larger orders. More such tools (or actually apps) can be expected soon when Trumpf’s spin-off Axoom becomes fully operational.

Smart software may also save money in manufacturing processes. For example Bystronic has developed a special software for planning a sheet metal cutting job. The online service ByOptimizer calculates an optimised cutting plan for the laser machine based on more than 300 parameters. Parts are grouped so closely on the metal sheet that the gaps (ie: raw material offcuts) are reduced to a minimum. The online service connects seamlessly with existing software, it needs just a few clicks to upload data and online service takes care of everything else. Cutting paths of the laser are reduced by half when a common cut allows for one cut instead of two. Bystronic promises material savings of up to 10 percent depending on contour shape and lot size.

It becomes more challenging if you have a new process and you want to find process parameters for cutting or drilling processes. It needs a well experienced operator and a number of trials to find optimal laser process parameters for a new material. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have collected simulation know-how for such processes for many years. Adequate simulations usually require a workstation and hours of calculation time, but experts have developed a simplified simulation tool for tablet use. In this app the user can play around with beam parameters such waist diameter and see, the processing result directly. This may reduce make-ready times considerably.

The simulation app from the Fraunhofer ILT allows playing around with process parameters with immediate return of the process changes in a neighboring window.

Another example of smart production will be shown by the Schuler AG at EuroBLECH trade fair. With their concept of a “Smart Press Shop” they want to show how networking solutions in forming technology can increase not only process reliability, but also cost-effectiveness in production.

For this purpose the entire system is simulated and optimised, including all press stages and automation components. The systems provide data measured by sensors installed at numerous points, for example to monitor the press force. This data also allows for a continuous operation control and allows for condition-based maintenance.

Alliances & Initiatives

Industry 4.0 is a key issue for German politics and so there are plenty of projects and events arranged in a national and international frame. Particularly engaged are the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Together with industry organisations and companies they have pooled activities and offerings for small and medium sized companies within the “Plattform Industrie 4.0”. If you think humans will disappear completely from the shop floor, you may consider a look at the so-called “Innovationsallianz 3Dsensation”. Founded within the founding initiative “Zwanzig20 – Partnerschaft für Innovation” of the BMBF companies and research institutions meet here to think about the future man machine interaction. It’s about making men machine interaction more intuitive, safer and more efficient.

With a budget of €100 million (US$112.2 million), partners of the consortium want to work on projects in the fields of manufacturing, mobility, health care and security. Of particular focus are 3D technologies that help machines to capture and interpret complex scenarios rapidly.

Risks & Side Effects?

Putting more services on the net and into the cloud brings a number of new risks on the table. So far, viruses and theft of data are more common on office computers. But with the Stuxnet worm that targeted industrial control systems, it is apparent that machine controls are not secure from fraud. On a recent meeting of the Association of German Engineers VDI the association’s director Ralph Appel said that the number of cyber-attacks on industrial plants or infrastructures of larger and smaller companies is much larger than the news reports, since many companies do not even recognise such attacks.

Accordingly, safety concepts are in high demand. One place where such concepts are developed is the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT in Darmstadt. There they built a Trusted Core Network (TCN) which tests the integrity of network knots to ensure that there are no foreign invaders. New participants such as robots, computers or machines are verified continuously and can be connected to the network.

Industry 4.0 is much more than hype; Many of its ideas are implemented already. Solutions for separate processes are in widespread use but the conversion of full complex process chains is still rare. The conversion of indirect processes promises quick wins, in particular if you try to drive profits for small lot sizes.

Detlef Zühlke, head of the technology initiative SmartFactoryKL eV and leader of the group Innovative Factory Systems (IFS) at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, DFKI, said recently at a large Industry 4.0 conference in Anaheim, CA, USA, that it will some more two or three years until the first systems will be running. But then it will become a global competition: “It’s a worldwide movement. Those who are too late with it will finally be the first to die on the market.”

The simulation app from the Fraunhofer ILT allows dynamic adjustment of the process parameters, immediately returning process changes in the adjacent window

The simulation app from the Fraunhofer ILT allows dynamic adjustment of the process parameters, immediately returning process changes in the adjacent window.

The simulation app from the Fraunhofer ILT allows dynamic adjustment of the process parameters, immediately returning process changes in the adjacent window.

The simulation app from the Fraunhofer ILT allows dynamic adjustment of the process parameters, immediately returning process changes in the adjacent window.

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