The global smart manufacturing market is expected to reach $573 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 13 percent during the 2020–2027 forecast period, according to Acumen Research and Consulting.
Smart manufacturing is a method to automate manufacture of products and transaction processes. Intelligent manufacturing requires the use of automation devices and the purpose of this phase is to use information technology (IT) to support the global economy. This output reduces the workload and makes the process more efficient.
The smart manufacturing network enables the usage of integrated equipment for automated processing of the manufacturing company. These development markets are growing due to various sectors, like automobile or process manufacturers, such as chemicals and oil and gas. Smart manufacturing reduces depletion and increases manufacturing performance significantly—thus increasing productivity and resulting in long-term cost advantages.
The key driving factor in the growth of the smart manufacturing market is the advances in technology and the development of more innovative technologies and products, including cloud computing, sensors, robots, 3D printing, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), among others.
Another major factor that is having a significant effect on market growth is the significant developments undertaken by technology suppliers as well as businesses to introduce innovative technologies to maximize productivity minimize manufacturing errors and automate processes.
Some of the most important factors for smart manufacturing development are the positive influence of policy programs and investments in supporting smart manufacturing. It is anticipated it will continue to boost growth in both developed and developing economies. For instance, the China 2025 Made in China Plan will spend more than $3 trillion in advanced manufacturing.
Another significant factor that is projected to fuel the demand growth of smart manufacturing is the increasing emphasis among manufacturers on real-time data analysis. This is to increase visibility in terms of predictive system maintenance, in order to prevent repairs during operations.
Taiwan Excellence, an international campaign to promote Taiwan’s superior products, will host the ‘Taiwan Excellence Smart Machinery’ On-Line Press Conference on June 2, from 15:30 to 17:30 (Taipei Time). To assist global manufacturers in arranging industry upgrade and automation, Taiwan Excellence has invited eight of Taiwan’s most iconic smart machinery companies to showcase their most advanced smart manufacturing solutions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has massively damaged the global manufacturing industry and made countries aware of the importance of industry upgrading. Taiwan’s Smart Machinery industry, which is well-known for its significant precision technology and massive ICT integration, completed the seemingly impossible mission of establishing 92 mask product lines in 40 days, and boosted mask production from 1.88 million pieces to 17 million pieces a day. This achievement demonstrated Taiwan’s industry’s rapid response capabilities and flexible management, and made Taiwan the best option for reviving the world’s manufacturing industry.
To familiarise global buyers with Taiwanese Smart Machinery, the press conference welcomes eight companies that represent the industry: HIWIN, FFG (Feeler), Solomon, Manford, Chin Fong, Grintimate, Tong Tai, and She Hong (Hartford). The conference will showcase the companies’ products and solutions including precision components, digitally-controlled machine tools, automation equipment and smart controlling systems. A new concept ‘Taiwan Excellence Smart Machinery Virtual Pavilion’ will also be launched at the press conference, which will showcase 60 magnificent Smart Machinery products from 50 Taiwan Excellence brands and allow buyers to check out superb smart machinery products at anytime and anywhere.
The Conference will be held online at 15:30 – 17:30 on June 2, 2020.
High precision robots working in a digitally driven factories are creating new avenues of growth for the sector. Article by Jorge Isla, ABB.
The standardised design of the FlexArc gives manufacturers the flexibility to shift the welding robot systems between cells without having to make major modifications.
As one of the most versatile and yet demanding parts of manufacturing, metal working has been preordained to undergo every technological advancement that transpires in the industrial world. The needs of the metalworking sector are as diverse as the end customers they serve. Be it a small job shop, a large automotive supplier or a foundry, metal working is a process that requires flawless execution even in harsh working conditions.
Today, trends such as the growing demand for tailor-made goods, continued globalisation that has led to a crowded market, and the everlasting pursuit for quality and efficiency, pose significant challenges to the current structure of the metalworking industry. Organisations that want to stay ahead of the curve have to pull all stops to ensure that their equipment and practices are capable enough to handle the many challenges that they encounter in this diverse industry. Automation in the form of robots and machining tools, when enhanced by digitalisation, offer the best way to improve productivity while maintaining a high level of flexibility to meet the needs of end customers.
A significant factor that contests the efficacy of a factory that we are seeing today is ability to manufacture a wide variety of parts while maintaining the capacity to constantly introduce new variants to the process without having to disrupt the normal workflow in the factory. Achieving this requires a two-pronged approach to enhance both the hardware and the overall production process.
Forging flexibility with robots
Collaborative robots are adept at adding flexibility to assembly processes that need to make small lots of highly individualized products, in short cycles.
A sure shot way to increase the flexibility of the metal working process is through robotic automation. The range of robots for metal working have not been as comprehensive as they are today. From simple material handling tasks such as shifting parts to and from the conveyor system to sophisticated robotic welding cells that perform multiple complex tasks, robots have proven to significantly improve uptime, productivity and consistency.
In the era of mass customisation, hard automation processes that execute only specific tasks offer very little in the way of agility to perform quick changeovers. On the other hand, flexible automation, typically in the form of a robot with “arms” that are capable of six axis movements with interchangeable grippers can perform a variety of tasks and are exceptional at handling large product mixes.
The IRB 14000 single and dual- arm robots from ABB are highly collaborative machines and one of the latest technologies in flexible automation. Popularly called YuMi, these robots come with the added benefits of being able to safely and seamlessly work closely with human operators and enable greater space savings as they do not require large fences or cabins. The small size, but highly dexterous robot is well-suited for picking and placing tasks as it does for a leading French automotive interior parts supplier. The dual-armed YuMi robot is installed in the small space between two simultaneously running conveyor systems where its job is to fit plates on pump handles that are used to adjust the height of vehicle seats. The plug-and-produce concept of the YuMi allows it to work well in unstructured environments.
Automation can also enhance the ability for manufacturers to perform tasks for various end customers using the same assets. Take for instance a Polish company that makes exhaust systems for the automotive industry. A significant variable in the company’s operations is that it does not have guaranteed quantity demands from end customers. To mitigate some of this uncertainty, the company installed a range of ABB’s FlexArcs at its factory in Poland. The FlexArc is a complete welding solution that features welding robots enabled with superior motion control software, positioners and other welding equipment, all built on a common platform.
What makes the FlexArc ideal for the company is that one welding cell can be easily adapted for other products. Depending on the forecast by the end customer, the company can set up the welding process and use as many or as few FlexArcs that they would need. The flexibility of the FlexArc allows the company to use the same jig to make products for different customers with minimum changes to the design, which otherwise is an expensive and often lengthy process. Ultimately, along with increased productivity and superior weld quality that the welding cell offers, it also enables the company to quickly respond to the changing demands of its customers.
Hexagon has launched its WORKPLAN 2021, which enhances automation and flexibility to further cement its integration into the sheet metal market.
“Industry 4.0, or Smart Manufacturing, isn’t just a goal for large manufacturers. We have more and more small companies turning to us, wanting a complete digital chain integrating specifications, and automating production management directly ingrated with their RADAN CAM solution, allowing them to get realtime views of their current workload, business profitability analysis, and full inventory control – all connected to their existing accounting system,” said Product Manager Christophe Mas.
A solution which was originally dedicated to mould makers, WORKPLAN, from Hexagon’s production software portfolio, has been able to mix a single database with multiple business requirements such as tools, sheet metal, prototyping, and mechanics.
“This means it shares new functions developed specifically for niche markets but which have now become real assets for all customers in many industrial sectors.”
Continuous improvement for sheet metal world
Initially used as a business calculator for sheet metal quotes, RADAN’s quoting module, Radquote, connects seamlessly with WORKPLAN, and now updates projects using referenced components present in a bill of material, optimising the price for the project.
Enhancements to the activity basket, which was launched in WORKPLAN 2020.0, make it possible to automatically create all baskets for the same project in just a few click, or from a nest with a simple drag and drop. And the activity baskets can now be controlled via the barcode system with specific manufacturing ranges, or via touch screens.
“This revolutionises the management of time tracking, and promotes automation and flexibility in the workshop. It also simplifies the management of assembly activities, heat treatment and finishing operations.”
GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation
A new set of measures has been introduced to guarantee maximum protection for storing both customer and employee data. “We have also implemented best practice guidelines related to the fundamental rights of GDPR such as consent management, right to be forgotten, right to change, and data portability.”
Sandvik Coromant has embarked on a unique venture with Microsoft to drive forward the development and digitalisation of the manufacturing industry. Combining Sandvik Coromant’s expertise in machining with technical solutions from Microsoft, the collaboration will seek to link up parts of the production chain to create solutions for the next generation of manufacturing. The contract also includes an acceleration of the internal digitalisation network for Sandvik Coromant.
Sandvik Coromant’s CoroPlus offering, developed in part with Microsoft, is based on Azure IoT Suite, Cortana Intelligence Suite and Dynamics 365 for Field Service. Among other things, the offering connects people, machines, tools and data on a single platform to offer Sandvik Coromant’s customers a better basis for decision making, and provides an overview of the various developments in the manufacturing process. This can enable savings, for example, by reducing machine downtimes.
“We see this collaboration with Microsoft as key to the success of our digital strategy. We have a historic relationship with them and look forward to continuing our journey, creating value by working together to develop and implement solutions for the manufacturing industry to guarantee efficiency, sustainability and growth. This unique partnership represents a new way for our companies to work together more closely to develop our competence,” explained Nadine Crauwels, President of Sandvik Coromant.
One unique aspect of Sandvik Coromant’s CoroPlus offering is that data is not only gathered at machine level to adjust equipment, notify technicians about maintenance requirements and warn managers about potential problems. Data is also gathered at tool level, which means that the customer’s industrial tool becomes “smart” and can be adapted and adjusted at any time for efficient use and to prevent production stoppages.
The partnership with Microsoft adopts an integrated approach to digitising the data, expertise and experience used on a daily basis by Sandvik Coromant to guide their customers, and will serve as an additional tool to facilitate streamlining of production.
The new joint venture between Sandvik Coromant and Microsoft gets under way in the first quarter of 2020 and will involve operations both in Sweden and abroad.
Steve Bell of Renishaw ASEAN talks about their activities in Thailand and provides his insights on the trend towards electric vehicles.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.”
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!
Robert Puschmann of DKSH and Mitchell Beness of HP speak about 3D printing, automation and Industry 4.0. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
Technology advancements have continuously been redefining design and manufacturing processes, production facilities, distribution systems, and global supply chains. As we move toward Industry 4.0, manufacturers recognise that current business models are no longer sustainable, and that the time has come for them to start adopting smarter manufacturing processes and solutions.
One such technology is 3D printing. 3D printing is a ground-breaking and innovative technology that has the potential to bring intermediate changes in manufacturing, society and business. As a crucial medium connecting the virtual and actual world, 3D printing enables the transformation of digital files into tangible objects. According to market analyst firm Inkwood Research, the global 3D printing market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 percent from 2019 to 2027 and reach a value of US$ 44.39 billion at the end of the forecast period. While North America is the dominating region, Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market for 3D printing.
Mitchell Beness, Category Product Manager Lead for 3D Print and Digital Manufacturing, APJ at HP Inc., says the overall growth in terms of revenue for the industry has been positive, double-digit growth year-on-year, globally, for additive manufacturing or 3D printing. “For us at HP, we see very exciting growth. If you look at the growth of the number of parts that we are producing, this is significant. If you look at the growth of our installed base and powder usage, it is very positive,” he notes. “I think, overall, it is an encouraging story for the industry and for us. Since entering the market, we have seen a lot of people rethinking their decision to move into traditional manufacturing and looking very carefully at what digital manufacturing can offer. I think this change in mindset has been an upward trajectory.”
HP and its partner DKSH Singapore were at the recent Industrial Transformation ASIA PACIFIC (ITAP) 2019 event in Singapore to showcase the latest HP Jet Fusion 580 System, a 3D printer developed specifically for lower volumes as an entry point. The Jet Fusion 580 System is the first of its kind in using a functional material—an engineering grade Nylon polymer—which can incorporate colour within the printer. It is a good example of an all-in-one machine, where it is printing, collecting powder, recycling powder, and redistributing powder, all in one very small unit.
Inkwood Research notes that 3D printing has achieved significant progress from the initial stages of production of simple plastic models to producing useful components, in the fields of surgical implants and prosthetics, batteries, robots, and among many others.
“I think the key area is prototyping, which goes throughout the different industries. We also need to differentiate between replacing and complementing the existing manufacturing process,” explains Robert Puschmann, Managing Director for DKSH Technology Business in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. “If you look at different industries, research is at the forefront. Researchers are looking into how 3D printing can be adopted, which is a very crucial progress because that will help create a new generation of mechanical engineers who are able to design in a totally different way than before. This will be used in more industries over time.”
3D printing or additive manufacturing offers a change in the traditional manufacturing processes, according to Beness. But convincing manufacturers to adopt the technology requires changing their mindset.
“It is an area that Southeast Asia is uniquely positioned to take advantage of considering its relatively young engineers. There are a lot of younger people in these countries, who are able to get access to quality education better than ever before,” he says. “Singapore is an excellent hub for education, and we see partnerships with dynamic clusters, such as Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Many of these types of educational institutions are fundamentally starting that design journey in the engineering space, with additive manufacturing in mind. I think the biggest challenge as well as the biggest opportunity is for people to change the way they design and engineer.”
Apart from the change in mindset, the business case also needs to be there so that people will understand more the benefits of integrating additive manufacturing in their processes.
“Overall, the return on investment (ROI) needs to be understood by the customer,” Puschmann says. “That is something we continuously educate the market with. Also, having a different mindset and knowing to design parts for 3D printing compared to conventional manufacturing are other decisive factors.”
One way of educating the industry is through exhibitions such as ITAP. “The ITAP 2019 exhibition is an educational platform for a lot of people to know that 3D printing exists—I think that’s the first part,” says Puschmann. “On top of that, we conduct test printings with our demo machines to show customers that 3D printing is possible. We also run specific seminars on selected industry focus groups.”
It is also a lot of on-site work, according to Puschmann, where salespeople and applications specialists go from door to door and introduce the new technology and product directly to the customers.
One aspect of Industry 4.0 is the synergy between the physical and cyber-physical world. And 3D printing is in this unique place between the cyber-physical world—which is the data—and the physical world—the output of the 3D printer.
“3D printing takes the digital world and makes it physical,” says Beness. “It has a very important and challenging role because it must address multitudes of data that are potentially for traditional manufacturing, and then try and make that into a physical product using additive technologies. I think that is the best way to describe industrial transformation. 3D printing takes digital files and turns them into physical objects. This is a critical part of Industry 4.0.”
Apart from this, 3D printing also enables distributed manufacturing. “You don’t need to produce all the parts and all the products at one place. Instead, you can distribute based on knowledge and available resources and bring them together,” explains Puschmann. “It’s not only a transformation with regards to new technologies, but also the transformation of existing manufacturing processes and infrastructures themselves.”
Future of Automation
The outlook for Southeast Asia needs to be in the perspective of the different markets in the region, as each is in its different stage of development when it comes to automation. “You have Vietnam becoming a new manufacturing powerhouse probably over the next few years,” says Puschmann. “Singapore is positioning itself very well in terms of industrial transformation and automation. In general, for automation to be implemented in Southeast Asia, I believe there needs to be a lot of education on the customer side as well as in universities so that there is more talent available in the market to drive the transformation.”
There is no way around it, according to Puschmann, as the industrial transformation process is going to happen. “The question is more about which industries will be first. I believe the manufacturing sector is probably one of the more difficult ones for adoption. The transformation process might take place more in the logistics space and in food production first, before it moves on to manufacturing,” says Puschmann. “Manufacturing is always unique—what is manufactured on the metal side on the one hand, and on the plastics side on another, always require different machines.”
And when it comes to automation, it can be a step-by-step process, or a transformation in one go.
“You can do it step by step, by looking at what you are manufacturing today and by potentially automating certain modules of your manufacturing process. Or, if you have the capability, the knowledge, the budget and the breadth to implement it, you can do it in one go—which bears a higher risk, of course, but also results in a faster return,” explains Puschmann. “However, if you are a medium-sized company today and you are not looking into automation at all, you might risk not existing anymore in five years’ time.”
Industry 4.0 is a very big word, which might scare a lot of people, according to Puschmann. “To really achieve Industry 4.0, you must do much more than just automate. While the first step is getting into automation, how you get into it is through education, which means taking away the apprehension of the product and helping the customer with the application. There is also a need for support on having a common understanding with the customer and on taking away the general fear by underlining that automation is not about replacing, but about giving the opportunity to businesses to upskill their people and giving them more value-added opportunities and tasks. Once you have these companies interested in automation, the next step would be integrating the automation processes into their existing platforms,” he says. “What is going to be interesting and important for us is tapping into different ecosystems of knowledge platforms and manufacturers and bringing this network effect to life. This ensures that the customer can really utilize all the different products and equipment and knowledge out there to get the best solution for them. Automation and Industry 4.0 are very complex, and I think one party alone would probably not be able to handle it. Leveraging that network effect is where DKSH can play an important role for our customers.”
Manufacturers’ analogue business processes are being converted into digital-focused “web shops,” based on the leading sheet metal software, RADAN.
RADAN’s German reseller, 3D Concepts, who are renowned for their innovative CAD/CAM solutions, have worked with a number of their customers to analyse the digital change philosophy of Industry 4.0, and developed individual concepts.
Thomas Menholz, from 3D Concepts, says digital building blocks such as CAD/CAM, MES, MRP and ERP can all come together in SQL-based systems to form data-driven Smart factories. “Every company needs to find its own unique path on the basis of a dedicated digitalisation strategy.
“An important aspect of the digital trend is the introduction of a web shop for the procurement of sheet metal parts, where customers can request components online, be provided with an offer, and place the order. Web shops operate autonomously, and are accessible 24 hours a day.”
As an increasing number of products are being developed in 3D CAD systems, web shops are based on 3D sheet metal parts provided in STEP and other similar files, along with 2D cuts from files such as DXF format. “The digital twin is created as a forerunner to the real product which comes later. Also, it’s likely that 3D data will replace 2D data in future, and that will simplify the processing without the need for further queries.
“At the moment, additional queries prevent seamless process handling, which is why this paradigm shift is very welcome for many suppliers and contract manufacturers in the sheet metal industry.”
3D Concepts has recently implemented a web shop for Trio Metall und Design GmbH, in Luhe-Wildenau. Trio is a contract producer of sheet metal components, providing a complete service from consulting, designing and planning, through to manufacturing ‘ready-for-assembly’ components, ranging from single parts and small runs, to large quantities. Using latest laser technology, they also work with non-ferrous metals such as copper, brass and titanium.
The digital strategy began early last year, focused around digitising internal processes and creating a web shop, Trionline 24, for the procurement of sheet metal parts. “At the same time, we linked these new processes to their existing ERP system, and controlled their new laser machine tools with RADAN.”
Trio’s Key Account Manager Christian Weinberg says the web shop automates their quotation preparation, which was time consuming when carried out manually. “We’ve also noticed that larger inquiries, such as for complete welding assemblies, are now sent directly to us via the web shop, which led to us investing in RADAN’s offline quotation module, Radquote, for calculating complete assemblies. This almost halved the time taken in preparing quotes.”
The 26th edition of the International Sheet Metal Working Technology Exhibition, EuroBLECH 2020, will take place from 27 – 30 October 2020 at the Hanover Exhibition Grounds in Germany. The show organisers, Mack Brooks Exhibitions, have now announced the expansion of exhibition space for EuroBLECH 2020 with the addition of a ninth hall for the first time in its history. This reflects a further increase in exhibition space compared to the previous event in 2018, which covered a total of 89,800 square metres.
“With the directly neighbouring hall 26, we are now able to offer additional stand space for the exhibition to meet the demand of exhibitors to display their latest machines in the various technology sectors. The additional hall will host exhibitors of joining technology, as well as surface and tool technology, which have previously been located in hall 13. The ninth hall is giving us the possibility to assign stand space to additional exhibiting companies within the entire sheet metal working technology chain represented at EuroBLECH,” said Evelyn Warwick, Exhibition Director of EuroBLECH, on behalf of the organiser Mack Brooks Exhibitions.
“The growth to a ninth exhibition hall reflects the increasing demand for stand space at the leading industry event and offers even more capacity for businesses to present their innovations to an international audience”, he continued.
Smart sheet metal working key focus for this year’s show
For EuroBLECH 2020, the main topics represent the latest industry trends, including smart sheet metal working as well as automation and digitalisation of the manufacturing chain, with the objective to increase output and efficiency. For exhibiting companies in this industry sector, it is a vital time to present their machines, systems and solutions for networked manufacturing to an international audience.
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.