The automotive 3D printing market size is forecasted to grow with a CAGR of 25 percent, to be worth over US$8 billion by 2024, according to a report by Global Market Insights Incorporated.
Advancements in 3D printing technology in the automotive industry have changed the ways products are manufactured, developed, designed and distributed—products are lighter, safer and cleaner with newer designs and shorter lead times.
The growth of the 3D printing market in the automotive sector is driven by the increasing need for low cost and more efficient technology to produce complex and high-quality products which traditional methods cannot fulfill. Additive manufacturing reduces production time as multiple stages can be combined into a single production step. This also eliminates the product assembly stage and reduces logistic transport costs.
Increasing number of government initiatives to invest in additive manufacturing technologies and consumers demand for new innovations and lower prices are further propelling the market forward. Additive manufacturing allows freedom of design and production of different products in any sequence. Hence, customised products are possible and automotive companies are able to include customers in the development process.
The Asia Pacific automotive 3D printing is expected to grow with a CAGR of over 29 percent. The growth in the Asia market is accelerated by increasing public and private establishment investments as regions are exploring various opportunities to enhance productivity and competitiveness.
Major companies operating in the automotive 3D printing market includes Ponoko Limited, Hoganus AB, Exone, Voxeljet AG, Arcam, Startasys, Autodesk, 3D systems, Materialise, Nano Dimension, Proto Labs, SLM Solutions Group, Electro Optical Systems, Concept Laser, and Renishaw Plc.
Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr Lim Boon Choon, President of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, APAC, regarding current trends in metrology.
Could you provide us with an overview of the current trends regarding metrology in metalworking?
Metrology continues to be important to assure quality in the final products, but customers are beginning to see the importance of process control, not just quality control. By process control, I mean getting metrology into the production area as well, and not just the quality room. By installing hardware and software in the production area, customers can check critical dimensions directly during the production process and ensure that the products are within specifications. This will help to ensure that there is less chance of products getting into the metrology room a few hours later and finding that the products do not meet the requirements and must be scrapped or re-worked.
Another trend is the use of non-contact scanning. Customers are coming up with very highly polished materials or mixture of different materials that may be sensitive to scratch marks. Non-contact scanning prevents scratches and speeds up the inspection very quickly.
The third trend is the increasing use of additive manufacturing as a complement to traditional manufacturing.
How has Hexagon kept up with these trends?
Over the years, Hexagon has developed or acquired various technologies that allowed us to implement in-line, next-to-the-line, or off-line inspection. We help customers build quality into their process from Design and Engineering, to Production and to final inspection. Increasingly, we also provide automated inspection systems that allows customers to use metrology in the shop floor to control the process and reduce scraps and rework.
For example, our AICON TubeInspect solution is a unique equipment for customers producing tubes. They can place their tubes in our system which measures the bending angles within a second and calculates the correct bending parameters to be sent back to the tube bending machine. This kind of close loop process helps customers to get their tubes right quickly and saves a lot of time and cost of rework.
We also have software like NC-SIMUL that simulates the machining process, Hexagon production software for finding the best cutting strategy, SIMUFACT for CAE simulation of additive manufacturing, Q-DAS and eMMA to monitor the manufacturing process and manage the relationship between parts, shop floor and portable CMM that allows us to measure the parts directly in the production area.
Another example of our products being shop floor ready is that we designed our CMM to have in-built message lights (Global S CMM), and pulse sensors that monitor vibration, humidity, temperature in real time.
Hexagon is now helping customers to optimise product innovation at various stages like Design, planning, production, quality assurance and post Production, and also our ability to link and integrate all data through our Smart Factory solutions and Assets Management system.
What are the main challenges faced by the metrology industry?
With the market going for more innovative products that may be highly customized, manufacturers are faced with high mix low volume situations. They need solutions that are easy to implement, robust and well connected to their manufacturing systems.
Many customers know that they need information to make good decisions, but there is a general lack of understanding of what can be done to tap in the information from various equipment (connectivity problem), and how to get actionable data; not just data, but actionable data.
How can they be overcome?
It boils down to leadership. Leaders have to be bold, have vision and courage to change. Start small and scale up quickly.
Rethink quality. Quality is not just in the quality room but should be built into the products right from how we design the product, how we ensure the design is strong, can be produced cost effectively, and the equipment and software are suitable to produce the product consistently. Look into process control, and not just quality control in the Quality room.
Moving forward, where do you think the industry is headed in the next 5 to 10 years?
With the push towards Industry 4.0, and especially with government encouragement and funding, I think manufacturers will want to implement more and more smart systems – automated solutions on the shop floor and monitored with software that gives them smart diagnostics and even artificial intelligence built in to identify problems early. Process control and non-contact scanning will also be increasingly prevalent.
In the past you, could make an investment in a business technology and ignore it after installation. But today, technological advances are moving so fast that you need to keep up with latest developments, or risk losing out to competitors who will recognise the opportunity out there, thus giving themselves an operational advantage over you.
Those familiar with technology might have heard of Moore’s law where Gordon Moore showed that the number of transistors on a chip would approximately double every two years. Intel has dedicated a web page on the phenomenon for those who are keen to explore this in depth.
But there’s another interesting competing law that many might not be familiar with. The Wright’s law was written by Theodore Wright, the inventor of the first airplane. Back in 1936, Theodore wrote the Learning Curve or (Experience Curve) law in which cumulative unit production is plotted against price per unit. Wright discovered that progress increases with experience: each percent increase in cumulative production in a given industry results in a fixed percentage improvement in production efficiency.
So why compare these two laws?
The point I’m trying to make is that Wright’s law more accurately represents the truth of the business environment we operate in today. In short, the more experience gained in a specific field, the more efficient and cost-effective we become. This means that more businesses are able to afford technology that can help them improve their operating efficiencies and compete for market share at higher levels of service. To put it another way, think about the cost of compute power in the 70s’ through mainframe systems. Not many could afford access to this technology, compared with today where almost every business operates with an information system. Did that lowering of technology cost happen because Gordon Moore said more transistors can fit on a computer chip over time? I think it’s more likely that Theordore Wright better understood the problem.
Monitor ERP System also understands that we must keep pace with industry developments to maintain a perceived value to our customers. We’ve gained over 35 years of experience developing production management technology solutions for our customers all over the world. Today it’s not enough to deliver an ERP / MRP system to a manufacturing company. Today our customers want access to more data deeper into their production line and supply chain. They want to know what inventory they should be holding, where they should be holding it, and at what levels. They want seamless access to machine data from the shop floor, and to access their data from anywhere. They also want to know that the delivery times they promise to their customers is accurate to protect their all-important brand image.
Monitor’s latest offering, MONITOR G5, is everything our customers have come to love about us over the years. It is fuelled with a beautiful new graphical design and a multitude of features ready to help our customers realise sustainable business growth well into the future.
Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Wong Seng Yeow, Business Development Manager at TRUMPF regarding current trends in the metrology and manufacturing industry.
Could you provide us with an overview of the current trends regarding the manufacturing industry?
The manufacturing industry has evolved significantly over time – from steam engines to mass production with electricity, then automation and in recent years Industry 4.0. The latest trend may be described as the digital networking of manufacturing technology with big data and analytics, autonomous robots, Internet of Things, etc. Sometimes known as the fourth industrial revolution, it signifies the combination of traditional industrial practices with digital technology.
A key driving force for Industry 4.0 applications is the increased transparency and flexibility for the manufacturing industry. In the model of a Smart Factory production line, companies may analyse and respond optimally to fluctuations in production capacity and factory utilisation. Flexible production layouts allow them to deal with increasingly individualised products and reduced batch sizes, coupled with the possibility of reducing costs through increase in the degree of automation and improved efficiency. Another advantage is production stability through the adoption of predictive maintenance. Self-monitoring and regular evaluation of machines helps in preventive maintenance which leads to increased productivity and quality. In cases of machine breakdowns, remote servicing may be done at significantly lower cost.
In a nutshell, the trend toward Industry 4.0 enables digitally managed product assembly, inventory management, resources management and service maintenance. Ideally, human intervention will be considerably reduced as processes will be largely managed and performed with artificial intelligence.
With increasing digitalisation, how has TRUMPF kept up with these trends to remain competitive?
Amidst challenging business environment, TRUMPF has always managed to rise above its competition by upholding one of the company’s guiding principles “Courage to transform”. From the development of plasma cutters to EUV laser, this notion has played an integral role in empowering the company to take courageous, transformative decisions over the past decades. In the same vein, it sets the right framework for an effective digital transformation.
Over the years, digitalisation has already permeated many areas of our business. An example of this trend is the conceptualisation of TruConnect, TRUMPF Machine Tool’s advanced range of solutions for connected sheet metal fabrication, comprising of hardware, software and services. The suite of products lays the foundation for production facilities to streamline control with minimal human intervention. Within TruConnect, key products such as TruTops Fab software are testaments to TRUMPF’s dedication to commercialise solutions based on its digital ambition. They are our answers to customers’ rising expectations of quality as they struggle with diminishing batch sizes, fast delivery times and low prices.
What are the main challenges faced by this industry in Asia?
Key challenges for digitalisation of the manufacturing industry in Asia include inadequate infrastructural readiness, awareness and knowledge competency.
In mature markets such as Europe, the knowledge and infrastructure required to reap the benefits of technology are present. However, in regions such as Southeast Asia, the extent of adoption of new technologies is limited as information technology infrastructure is relatively underdeveloped in emerging markets such as Myanmar.
Digitalization might still be a foreign topic to some companies as well as the potential advantages that follows, such as achieving operational transparency through data analytics. To the less-informed, digital transformation is a process which translates into unsavoury repercussions such as job displacement.
The unwillingness to embrace digitalisation also stems from the fact that employees are not sufficiently trained and equipped with the necessary knowledge. Without fully appreciating the advantages of digitalisation, decision makers will not be willing to incur cost to train employees with the required skillset means placing additional strain on their tight budgets.
How can they be overcome?
Adoption of Industry 4.0 applications in Asia can be successfully implemented when the government, local companies and key industry leaders such as TRUMPF work together.
On the part of local manufacturing companies, it is first important to implement the digital strategy from top down. Decision makers should proactively analyse the process, tools and benefits of digitalisation. It is also crucial to address the unfounded insecurity of employees who have concerns about being replaced by new technology. In this regard, companies may seize the chance to train its labour force to be digitally-skilled, thereby enabling them to handle higher level processes. With a supportive workforce, companies can achieve a smooth end-to-end integration of their data and operational process.
As a market leader in the manufacturing industry, TRUMPF intends to continue empowering manufacturing companies in their digitalisation journey by offering solutions and services which suit their various needs. For instance, TRUMPF is committed to develop the South East Asian industry by educating manufacturers in the region on digitalisation through the TruConnect solution. Advance production-planning softwares and Smart Factory consultancy services are designed to support customers in their digitalisation journey through a step-by-step approach – first assessing existing manufacturing layout, identifying bottlenecks and challenges, then proposing technology solutions to optimise manufacturing processes and operations. That said, digitalisation should not be perceived as a one-time process but as a continuous transformation which should be sustained.
Naturally, TRUMPF also works closely with government agencies such as the Singapore Economic Development Board to develop the market infrastructure and constantly nurture companies in the region.
Moving forward, where do you think the industry is headed in the next 5 to 10 years?
Over the next years, market condition will be increasingly difficult as companies compete not only on price but on efficiency as well. In such a market environment, a company’s success will depend on its courage to transform. As digitalisation allows the creation of new businesses and growth opportunities, a shift in dynamics can be expected as the industry consolidates – only players who are able to successfully digitalise will survive and thrive.
The future of manufacturing lies in transparency and connectivity. For TRUMPF, the majority of sales is still expected to come from machinery, but software and digital services will play an increasingly significant role. With an eye on growing our market share, we will continue to be the leading provider of new digital solutions in the manufacturing industry.
In 2018, disbursement of FDI projects in Vietnam reached a record high of USD 19.1 billion, showing the high confidence of foreign investors in Vietnam’s business and investment environments. This is an increase of 9.1 percent year-on-year amid global concerns over the tension caused by the US China Trade War. Additionally, the rapid growth of both privately and state run enterprises such as Vingroup or Viettel is an indication of Vietnam’s economy prosperity and the fact that the country’s business environment is capable of nourishing large corporations of global scale.
However, as tensions over the Trade War continue to escalate in 2019, uncertainly over the status of the global manufacturing sector has continued to plague the industry and much attention has been focused on Vietnam due to the country’s status as an emerging manufacturing hub. Currently, the Trump administration has imposed tariffs on USD 250 billion worth of Chinese imports while China has retaliated by imposing tariffs on a cumulative value of USD 110 billion worth of US imports.
In short-term, Vietnam is projected to capture some of China’s global market share in labour-intensive manufacturing, although, in the long-term it is uncertain if Vietnam will continue to benefit from the displacement of manufacturing from China. This is because, Vietnam could face the risk of trade frauds as China looks to route US-bound products through the country to evade existing tariffs at an increasing pace. Furthermore, there is also the risk of Chinese products saturating the Vietnamese market, resulting in increased competition with domestic producers.
Thus, as the trade war drags on, experts have advised Vietnam to develop a new development strategy to evade potential risks. This is also due to the fact that global investors are starting to withdraw their investments from emerging markets, including Vietnam.
Singapore’s manufacturing sector has contracted again in December 2018, with the key electronics sector declining further. This is aligned to a weakening global outlook for the manufacturing sector and the current fallout between the US and China, as well as the overall decline in manufacturing in South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia.
In fact, Singapore’s overall Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), dipped 0.4 points in December 2018, reaching 51.1. This is barely above a reading of 50 which indicates that growth has occurred. Similarly, the electronics sector, which saw its first contraction after 27 consecutive months of growth in November 2018, dropped 0.1 points to 49.8 in December 2018 according to the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM).
Meanwhile, China’s official manufacturing PMI that was released on January 2019 indicated that the country’s manufacturing sector has sank into the contraction territory for the first time since July 2016, while the Caixin manufacturing PMI also contracted to 49.7, which is the lowest figure that the index has dropped to since May 2017. This was a decrement that stands below analyst expectations.
Regarding this, the SIPMM has commented that the lower overall PMI reading can be attributed to slower growth in new orders and new exports, factory output, inventory, as well as employment level. Additionally, it can be taken into account that the indexes of finished goods, imports, input prices and supplier deliveries also expanded at a lower rate, while the order backlog index has continued to contract for three consecutive months. Alvin Liew, a Senior Economist at UOB has further added that the weaker PMI is most probably linked to a slowdown of China’s growth and the corresponding drop in demand for Singapore’s goods and services that are tied to China’s economy. He also projected that a continued slowdown is likely to occur due to many factors such as a decrease in China’s growth, uncertain trade developments between the US and China, as well as a global electronics cycle downturn.
The global laser cutting market has a projected CAGR of 9.3 percent from 2016 to 2023 and will grow to reach US$5.7 billion by 2022. This can be attributed to heightened production demands from various industries and the shift towards automation. With regards to the automotive, consumer electronics and defense industries, their growth has resulted in an increased demand for machines that drive manufacturing processes and these has in turn spurred the growth of the laser cutting industry.
Currently, alternatives to laser cutting such as offer similar features and are able to offer some benefits that laser cutting cannot provide. However, the market competition posed by these alternatives are expected to dwindle with time due to the constant technological improvements that laser technologies are experiencing.
Based on technology, the laser cutting market can be segmented into solid state lasers, gas lasers and semiconductor lasers. Solid state laser was the highest revenue contributor and comprised about 40 percent of the total market share in 2015. However, gas laser is expected to witness rapid growth till 2023.
Although the US contributes significantly to the growth of the industry, Asia-Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing region moving forward. This can be attributed to an increase in the number of manufacturing facilities and the growing purchasing power of consumers in developing nations.
South Korea has emerged as the top investor in Vietnam with US$60 billion worth of investments in the country as of 2018. This can be attributed to investments from mega companies such as Samsung, LG, Hyundai Motor, SK, Lotte, POSCO, CJ, Hanwha, LH Corp, Shinhan, Kumho, and Hyosung. To top this off, South Korean firms are continually seeking to expand investments in Vietnam due to the improvement in business conditions and implementation of effective policies over the past years.
In fact, during a meeting between South Korea officials and executives and the Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, it has been elaborated that conducive business policies, have translated into better macroeconomic indicators which in turn allow for other sectors and FDI to grow. Kim Tae Soo, Head of the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) has also added that, South Korean investors are interested in the infrastructure, logistics, manufacturing, automobile, agriculture, and food processing sectors within Vietnam. And the EDCF will work to speed up the disbursement of soft loans to help Vietnamese firms conduct projects under a public-private partnership (PPP).
To add to this, the South Korean government also considers Vietnam as the key pillar in its “Look South” policy and South Korea’s linkage to Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
A majority of firms (a weighted 81 percent) in the manufacturing sector expects the business situation in the next six months to remain similar to a quarter ago. A weighted nine percent of manufacturers expects business conditions to improve while a weighted 10 percent foresees a softer business outlook. Overall, a net weighted balance of one percent of manufacturers anticipates a less favourable business situation for the period October 2018 – March 2019, compared to the third quarter of 2018.
Within the manufacturing sector, the transport engineering cluster is the most optimistic about business conditions, with a net weighted balance of 21 percent of firms expecting improvement, compared to a quarter ago. In the marine & offshore engineering segment, the oil & gas field equipment manufacturers anticipate more orders on the back of firmer oil prices. The shipyards foresee more ship repairing work while offshore rig orders remain subdued. Additionally, in the aerospace segment, firms continue to expect strong demand for aircraft engine repair in the next six months.
In the biomedical manufacturing cluster, a net weighted balance of six percent of firms foresee a favourable operating environment in the next six months. This positive sentiment is largely due to the medical technology segment which expects export orders to remain strong.
The rest of the manufacturing clusters are less optimistic about business prospects compared to a quarter ago. In particular, the machinery & systems segment in the precision engineering cluster and the infocomms & consumer electronics segment in the electronic cluster anticipate weaker orders, given growing concerns over the global trade tensions.
Output Forecast for October – December 2018
Compared to the third quarter of 2018, a net weighted balance of two percent of manufacturers expects output to increase in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The biomedical manufacturing cluster is the most optimistic, with a net weighted balance of 27 per cent of firms projecting a higher level of production in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to a quarter ago. The medical technology segment projects increased output to meet export demand for medical devices. In addition, the pharmaceuticals segment forecasts higher production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biologics in the next three months.
A net weighted balance of 19 per cent of firms in the transport engineering cluster expects a higher level of activity in the next three months. The aerospace segment anticipates more aircraft engine repairs while the marine & offshore engineering segment foresees more ship repairing work.
A net weighted balance of 12 percent of firms in the general manufacturing industries cluster projects increased output in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to previous quarter. Within the cluster, the food, beverages & tobacco segment anticipates higher production due in part to the year-end festive demand. In addition, the miscellaneous industries segment expects higher output of batteries as export demand from Europe and the US remains strong.
By contrast, the precision engineering cluster is the least upbeat, with a net weighted balance of 23 percent of firms projecting a fall in production level in the fourth quarter of 2018. The weaker production outlook is largely due to the machinery and systems segment, which anticipates lower production due to uncertainties in demand amid global trade tensions.
Employment Forecast For October – December 2018
A majority of firms (a weighted 85 percent) in the manufacturing sector expects the employment level in the next three months ending December 2018 to remain similar to a quarter ago. Overall, a net weighted balance of one percent of manufacturers plans to hire fewer workers in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to the third quarter. Among the manufacturing clusters, the electronics, precision, transport engineering and general manufacturing industries clusters expect to hire fewer workers for the period October – December 2018.
Factors Affecting Export Orders For October – December 2018
A majority of firms (a weighted 70 percent) in the manufacturing sector reported no limiting factors that would affect their ability to obtain export orders in the fourth quarter of 2018. A weighted 25 percent of firms, on the other hand, indicated price competition from overseas competitors, and economic and political conditions abroad as the top two limiting factors that could affect their export orders.
Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr. Debashis Tarafdar, Principal Advisor, Supply Chain, Ecosystm to discuss the up and coming trends affecting supply chain networks in the manufacturing industry.
1. Could you provide an overview of the current trends regarding supply chains that are integrated to manufacturing networks in the Asian metalworking industry?
There are several trends that are impacting the Asian metalworking industry supply chain at the moment. The global economic recovery seems to be underway, and that is good news for the metalworking industry particularly in the industrial machinery and automotive sectors. However, uncertainties remain with the prospect of trade wars and geopolitical conflicts. A set of issues specific to this industry has been emerging for a few years now. Technological advances in material science and engineering impacting tooling and workholding processes – enabling more productive and accurate outputs with increased tool life. Industry 4.0, IoT, smarter sensors and connected machines have great potential in controlling and monitoring machining processes and taking corrective actions proactively, contributing to lower downtime and higher yield. Smarter machines equipped with smart sensors are at the heart of a smart factory and will have significant impact on the interconnected supply chains of tomorrow. Additive manufacturing is enabling complex but low volume work that was difficult to achieve through traditional machining processes. However, shortage of skilled labour is one of the issues that this industry must deal with, in order to ensure sustainable improvements in productivity and growth.
2. With the digitalisation of manufacturing processes in Asia, how can supply chains evolve to keep up with the changes?
With increasingly demanding customers and a globalised competitive environment, adopting digitalisation is a must for achieving a demand-driven supply chain management strategy. Supply chain processes need to be integrated from customers to suppliers, with seamless information access both upstream and downstream. Smart factories and smart processes that are highly adaptive, with a high degree of automation and robotics will be the key to success – helping organisations improve their service and lowering costs at the same time.
3. Within the context of Asia, what are the biggest challenges to the optimisation of supply chains within manufacturing networks?
I think the biggest challenge in Asia is the mindset, as global organisations aggressively adopt digital business. The majority of the organisations today are still silo-ed in their approach and are highly cost-focused instead of growth and service focused. To me, the definition of digital business is that it is “a solution-centric business approach to deliver customer value through process innovations that connect people, technology and “things” to drive revenue and efficiency.” A large proportion of Asian manufacturers are still product-focused rather than solution-focused, which makes them intrinsically internally-focused, and that in my opinion is the biggest hurdle. The industry needs to analyse what defines “value” for their customers, and deliver tailored solutions to create a win-win. Without the correct perspective, optimisation efforts may well lead to sub-optimal results.
4. How can the challenges mentioned above be overcome?
Organisations need to adopt an outside-in approach to managing supply chains, as well as integrate supply chain processes from an end-to-end perspective. Real-time visibility of both in-process and extended supply chain metrics is important for making the right trade-offs. Along the way, companies also need to consider the stage of maturity that their digital supply chains are at. There is a continuum of digital supply chain maturity that exists from “ad-hoc” to “developing” to “leading”. Through a systematic and structured understanding of the maturity level and associated capability gaps, supply chain leaders can develop programs that will help progress the maturity over a period of time, thereby delivering improved customer and stakeholder value as well as better return on assets and capital.
5. In the next 5-10 years, what will be the technologies that drive supply chains in Asia?
Key technologies that will drive supply chains in Asia in the next 5-10 years are rapid planning and optimisation capabilities with analytics and a control tower approach – enabling predictive decision-making, at the minimum. At the next level, improved customer centricity and better service will need IoT and smart machines as an integral part of the end-to-end supply chain, enabling prescriptive decision-making. And finally machine learning, big data and artificial intelligence capabilities will enable cognitive decision-making across the extended supply chain, powering industry ecosystems that will work towards a common goal delivering customer value.