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The Importance Of Automation For Networked Manufacturing And Digitisation

The Importance of Automation for Networked Manufacturing and Digitisation

Automation is more than the automatic measurement of surface roughness and shape parameters. Find out why in this article by Bruker Alicona.

With the trend to increasingly implement quality assurance—and thus metrology—as an integral part of production, the requirements on measurement systems have also changed. Modern measuring systems must be fully automatable so that they can be operated at any time. In addition, complex components with tight tolerances require measuring systems that deliver robust, traceable and repeatable measurement results. Last but not least, an industry-standard interface technology is needed to enable networking and communication between all systems involved in a production chain. Manufacturers then receive real-time data on production trends and prevent rejects at an early stage—a first part is immediately a good part. 

Bruker Alicona is one of the first optical metrology supplier to intensively deal with these demands that come along with the implementation of a smart manufacturing production concept. Today, they offer tried and tested solutions based on the technology of Focus-Variation. 

The following is an overview of the automation options available. The range includes “simple” automated measurement up to the realization of smart manufacturing. 

Automatic Measurement of Dimension, Position, Shape and Roughness

Automation interfaces enable the automatic and user-independent measurement of micro-precision parts or smallest component features on large surfaces. Measurement of shape (distances, roundness, flatness, shape deviation, positional relationships) and roughness parameters as well as of cutting edge parameters (radius, contour, angle) is based on the interaction between an administrator for the teach-in of measurement programs and an operator who starts the measurement using single-button solutions.

The teach-in is designed for maximum user-friendliness and can be implemented in only a few steps without programming knowledge. The component to be measured is identified by means of a drop-down menu or barcode. The corresponding measuring program is started automatically, and the machine operator receives a measurement protocol including ok/not ok data. 

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Continuing The Automation Legacy

Continuing the Automation Legacy

John Young, APAC director EU Automation, discusses the benefits of bringing legacy control systems into the fourth industrial revolution.

The cyclopic is an electric, foldable bike that’s set to be the most compact on the market. The invention takes inspiration from the Penny Farthing. Its handles are fixed upon the larger front wheel, and the back wheel folds inwards so the bike can fit into a portable bag that rolls along. The cyclopic is designed to offer users with a space-saving, lightweight solution to city travel. 

While manufacturers don’t use equipment that has been around as long as the original penny farthing, most facilities do still rely on older equipment in their production lines. As the first generation of factory automation comes to an end, the future of many control systems may seem bleak. In fact, a 2019 survey carried out by Dell Technologies found that 91 per cent of midsize and larger organisations face major hurdles to digital transformation. The notion that these organisations should scrap all their legacy systems in favour of new infrastructure is impractical. Instead, manufacturers should consider how their existing equipment can connect to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Out with the Old?

“The programmable controller’s time was right. It invented itself because there was a need for it, and other people had that same need.” Those are the words of Dick Morley, the father of the programmable logic controller (PLC) as he reflected on his invention, 40 years later. When the PLC was invented in the late 1960s, it was built to give manufacturers better insight into their plant’s processes. This need hasn’t changed very much in subsequent years. Real-time machine control is still a necessity, but the adoption of new technologies means that older PLCs may be lagging behind.

So, are these legacy systems destined for the scrap heap? Not necessarily, they just need to be able to monitor more processes. If we consider the monitoring needs of a variety of industries, it is clear that each one has its own set of requirements. A water utility may be required to monitor the health of its phonelines to make sure they’re working in case of an emergency; while a packaging facility that uses injection moulding may need to retrieve data on the speed of its machines. 

While control systems such as the PLC won’t be made redundant any time soon, their functions and capabilities will need to extend in order to manage these increased data requirements. 

Smarten Up

Manufacturers may need some support to take their control systems into the future. Modern PLCs often come with an Ethernet interface, which older or less expensive systems do not have. Instead, many legacy systems adopt a sometimes-bewildering range of serial communications and proprietary protocols that lack the interoperability most manufacturers require. 

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Driving Industry Forward With Intelligent Technologies

Driving Industry Forward With Intelligent Technologies

INTERMACH and MTA Asia 2020—ASEAN’s leading international industrial machinery and subcontracting event—is proud to showcase intelligent industrial machinery and technologies that drive the industry forward with timely manufacturing solutions such as automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). 

The event offers a platform that will provide countless opportunities for entrepreneurs to gain access to advanced technologies and knowledge in a variety of industries. 

This year, more than 50 items will be launched for the first time in Thailand and ASEAN. There will also be a full range of sheet metal fabrication technology from 150 of the world’s leading brands, as well as additive manufacturing technology.

The event to be held from September 23–26 at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC) in Thailand, will feature cutting-edge manufacturing technologies and intelligent technology showcases from over 1,200 brands and 45 countries, over an exhibition area of 38,000 sqm. It will include major pavilions from South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore. It will also feature an interesting line-up of conferences and forums, such as the following:

  • INTERMACH Forum: “SMEs, Transformation to Smart Manufacturers”
  • Future Automotive Forum: “Disruption of the Future Automotive in Thailand”
  • System Integrator (SI) Forum
  • Thai Subcon Seminar

In particular, the 4th INTERMACH Forum is designed for entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The forum will feature leading speakers and experts from both private and public sectors, who will share overviews and their insights in options and challenges on technology and workforce transformation for smart manufacturing. There will also be over 50 SME Empowerment Seminars and activities for SMEs related to future automotive, medical device, robotics, aerospace, and other ground-breaking industries.

Apart from these, the event will feature the Industrial Automation and Robotic Show 2020 (iAR), ASEAN’s leading exhibition on automation and robotics technology. The show, part of INTERMACH, provides a platform for advance automation and robotic technology and solutions enablers who are looking to upgrade their manufacturing, gain first hand updates on industry trends and developments, and grow their businesses in the market.

Co-located Events

SUBCON Thailand 2020 is the 15th Edition of ASEAN’s leading industrial subcontracting and business matching event. This is the only event jointly organised by the BOI Unit for Industrial Linkage Development (BUILD) – Thailand Board of Investment (BOI), Informa Markets and the Thai Subcontracting Promotion Association.

The show is designed to present business opportunities to more than 4,000 industrial part makers and help exhibitors negotiate business with major industrial part-buyers and manufacturers from Tier 1 and Tier 2. This year’s show is projected to be attended by more than 25,000 buyers from industries such as automotive, electric, electronic, machinery, as well as future industries including aviation, medical equipment, robotics automation and digital are all expected to take part in the event.

SHEET METAL ASIA 2020 is the 20th edition of Thailand’s largest international sheet metal fabrication and machinery event. The show brings together comprehensive technologies such as fibre laser machinery, CO2 lasers, press brakes, punching machines, water jet technology, and more, from over 300 major brands from 25 countries. The advanced technologies in sheet metal fabrication will cover industries such as automotive, electronics, electric equipment, construction, interior and furniture, medical devices, and agriculture.

For more information or immediate pre-registration, visit www.intermachshow.com.

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Thailand BOI Encourages Focus On Automation And Human Resource Training Ahead Of 2021 Recovery

Thailand BOI Encourages Focus On Automation And Human Resource Training Ahead of 2021 Recovery

The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) is urging investors to focus on enhancing productivity and efficiency through automation and human resource training by taking advantage of the key promotion measures offered to them, in order to prepare for the economic recovery expected in 2021.

“We are now focusing not only on attracting new investment projects but given the economic situation we also believe it necessary to make existing ones more productive, to have a higher level of productivity which is a critical issue for Thailand to move forward,” Ms Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of the BOI, told a Webinar titled “Support Measures for Economic Recovery” that was co-hosted by the Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT).

For 2020, Thailand’s Finance Ministry anticipates a 8.1 percent contraction of the GDP, with a progressive improvement from the third quarter which should lead to a rebound in 2021.

“Looking forward I think we can expect the economy to gradually pick up in the remaining half of this year,” said Pisit Puapan, Director of the Macroeconomic Policy Bureau of the Thai Finance Ministry.

“For 2021 the Ministry of Finance expects the Thai economy to rebound and show a positive growth rate of four to five percent,” Pisit said.

“I think the Covid 19 crisis has reiterated the necessity for us to move forward to more automation and robotics, so we are encouraging companies to invest in automation to become more efficient or have better products at lower costs,” Ms Duangjai said.

“So we are now offering tax incentives for companies that would like to invest in new machinery, to replace existing ones, for the purpose of energy conservation or to use lower energy or to reduce the impact on the environment.”

Another key area for promotion is in training and development of human resources, again with an emphasis on both new and existing projects.

Thailand has faced a surge in furlough as a result of the lockdowns in April-May in response to the Covid pandemic, and the threat of burgeoning unemployment in the coming months or years is real, although the worst of the economic impact was no doubt felt in the second quarter of 2020.

“We think that Thailand will find herself in a totally new environment. Deglobalisation has already taken place,” said Charl Kengchon, Executive Chairman of the Kasikorn Research Center.

“Pandemic and fear of pandemic after Covid is not going to help global trade because increasingly more and more government will come to the realisation that public health in fact is a kind of national security issue and they are going to implement safeguards on health care and there are going to be non-tariff barriers because of that,” he said.

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Process Efficiency In Focus

Process Efficiency in Focus

For the last few years, process efficiency has been one of the hottest industrial topics, as well as one of the pillars of the Industry 4.0 paradigm. Article by Gianfranco Gotter, Salvagnini Group.

Process Efficiency in Focus

Salvagnini offers a configurable system with store-towers and automatic loading, unloading, separation and stacking connections, which can be integrated with other technologies downstream, such as the panel bender, to machine a single batch, or JIT with small or very small sized batches.

When talking of combined sheet metal machining technologies, we tend to assess productivity only in terms of the production cycle time. But the industry has changed: flexibility and efficiency, of both individual machining stations and within the production process, are fundamental requirements for managing increasingly small batches and high code rotation indexes. Not by chance, for the last few years, process efficiency has been one of the hottest industrial topics, as well as one of the pillars of the Industry 4.0 paradigm.

Processing speed and flexibility are the factors leading to the choice of a combined system. But we have to consider at least four other decisive factors: the quality expected, the geometries of the parts being machined, the possibility of complying with lean production principles, and the automation options available.

While quality is an intuitive concept, to assess part geometries, lean production and system automation options, we have to look more closely at their meanings.

Part Geometries

Rather than talking of traditional and new fields of application, it is perhaps more correct to divide the combined market into two macro-groups according to customers’ final product features, and the geometries of the parts to be produced. In the first group, we find companies that manufacture not particularly complex but highly configurable geometries.

In this context, the combined technology is interesting, because it allows two activities to be condensed into a single process. In a traditional production context, these would be two separate and consecutive activities—and here, a number of inefficiencies may occur: availability of the subsequent machining station and the operator, handling of semi-finished parts, process errors, waiting times linked to tool changes, and so on. In this sense, the combined system demonstrates all its flexibility.

The second group, on the other hand, includes companies that manufacture products consisting of parts which, due to their design and functional characteristics, require machining that cannot be done on a conventional punching machine but require technology that overcomes the limits of the laser to obtain, for example, forming operations.

In this case, too, the winning feature is the combination, the sum of the two punching and laser cutting activities. Not so much with a view to flexibility as to process optimisation and the availability of two different technologies in a single system. This group generally includes younger customers who machine parts for the IT, electronics, gaming, telecommunications, medical, automotive and aerospace sectors.

Compliance with Lean Production Principles

When it comes to lean production, I think above all of the possibility to reduce stocks, waiting times and activities with low added value. As an example, the hidden costs of intermediate, often superfluous handling can reach surprising levels. But I also think of activities like separating parts from the skeleton, or moving parts from one work station to the next: these low-added-value activities require time and labor. They are manual operations which also imply risks: for example, in contexts with a medium-high production mix and medium-large batches, damaged or lost parts are not rare.

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5 Reasons Why You Need Collaborative Automation For Today’s World

5 Reasons Why You Need Collaborative Automation For Today’s World

The benefits of collaborative automation are undisputed – more profitability, productivity, flexibility, higher quality and even more employee satisfaction. Given the current economic landscape, manufacturers need these advantages now more than ever. Collaborative robots (cobots) are a proven, valuable and accessible solution for manufacturers of any size. The following are the reasons why one should increase automation in their factory.

  1. Cobots ease labour shortages

The top challenge manufacturers face is the gap between the demand and availability of workers. Unfortunately, the labour shortages will only get worse in the coming years. Research from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that over the next 10 years starting from 2020, manufacturers will need to add approximately 4.6 million manufacturing jobs – 2.4 of which may go unfilled.

Cobots can help ease the burden by filling the labour gaps. Cobots can be programmed, operated and maintained by existing employees, regardless of the team’s previous robotics or automation experience. By providing manufacturers with an easy way to automate the dirty, dangerous, dull and repetitive jobs, organisations can shift existing employees to new and more valuable roles, which increases employee satisfaction and builds morale and loyalty. Extensive automation can ease recruitment and retention by creating new technical roles with better pay, opportunities and working conditions.

  1. Accessible and flexible

Unlike costly industrial robots, cobots are affordable, versatile and easy to integrate into work processes without the need for major renovations or costly installation projects. Cobots can make companies of any size – and in any location – competitive by providing the flexibility they need to compete, grow and profit in any economic climate. Collaborative automation equips organisations to easily to scale up or down, increase productivity in warehouses and expand into new markets more quickly.

  1. Financial competitive advantage

In addition to labour shortages, today’s manufacturers face intense economic and political uncertainty. Adding to the complexity, today’s consumers increasingly demand higher quality products and real-time availability – at lower costs. These pressures make running a profitable production line more challenging than ever before.

Financially, collaborative automation has a direct impact on profits. Further, cobots play an important role in improving product quality by reducing human error commonly associated with dull, repetitive and dangerous tasks, ensuring consistency and accuracy, and enhancing the ability to create more complex goods – which satisfies customer demand for higher-quality goods at lower costs. At the same time, with the right configuration, a cobot can produce finished goods at a much faster rate than handcrafting or assembly lines.

  1. An affordable option

Few would argue with the benefits of collaborative automation. A small and mid-sized manufacturer might have doubts to afford a solution with all the pressures facing in their factory and the looming economic uncertainty.

UR Financial Services offers a fast and low-risk model to maximise productivity, profitability and ROI without a significant cash outlay. Through a partnership with DLL, we offer flexible payment plans that accommodate cash flow, seasonal fluctuations and shifts in capacity, so you can focus on growing and running your business. This programme provides the ultimate financial flexibility.

  1. Financially supported by Government in Singapore

Singapore companies especially SMEs who have a tight budget and cash flows can grow their businesses and solidify their foundations with the EDG grant in Singapore. The Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) supports companies’ usage of automation and technology which results in tangible benefits and significant growth.

While it is difficult to predict the future, it is plausible that this is just the start of the process for collaborative robots. In the long run, with a rapid increase in automation capabilities, cobots will become the powerful workhorses of the factory. This is the perfect time to deploy cobots in your industry and stay ahead of competitors

Article by Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots

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Automated Tool Inspection Solutions For High Speed And Precision

Automated Tool Inspection Solutions for High Speed and Precision

The introduction of precision and high-performance moulds has led to ever-increasing demands on mould manufacturers in recent years. Since the precision of the shape is determined by the dimensional accuracy of the electrode, it is essential to carry out accurate measurements of the size and shape of the electrode before processing the shape. Article by WENZEL.

Automated Tool Inspection Solutions for High Speed and Precision

The LHF 2517 is a large portal measuring instrument of gantry and bridge construction for medium and large workpieces. (Courtesy of WENZEL)

Changyuan Technology (Tianjin) Co. Ltd (CHYUAN) specialises in the development and manufacture of automotive injection moulds. With a planned production capacity of 450 million moulds, the company aims to develop into one of the largest single manufacturers of automotive injection moulds in northern China.

For increased efficient production of precision moulds, CHYUAN has commissioned an automated production line for electrodes and mould inserts, which enables the integration of electrode disassembly, processing, inspection, repair and offline processes. Since the measuring system used is the key to quality assurance, CHYUAN prefers the use of coordinate measuring machines (CMMs).

A CMM provides one of the most effective solutions for measuring and collecting dimension data. First, it can replace a variety of surface-to-surface measurement tools and expensive combined gauges. Secondly, the CMM can reduce the time required for complex measurements from hours to minutes. Thirdly, it guarantees both the efficiency and accuracy of measurement of size, shape and positional tolerance of the electrode.

Automated Measurements in the Direct Production Environment

CHYUAN relies on the WENZEL coordinate measuring devices XOrbit77 and LHF 2517. The figures represent the measuring volume in the X and Z axes of 700 mm x 700 mm and 2500 mm x 1700 mm, respectively. The XOrbit was seamlessly integrated into the production line for electrodes and mould inserts for automated 3D coordinate measurement in 2019. The CNC measuring device is ideally suited for the shopfloor environment and can be equipped with switching measuring and optical sensors. The XOrbit offers excellent value for money with high mechanical precision and low operating costs.

Meanwhile, the LHF 2517 is a large measuring instrument in gantry and bridge construction for medium and large workpieces. The floor-level design of the LHF allows easy assembly with large parts with high freedom of movement for the user. The double drive in the Y-axis of the LHF ensures high measuring speeds and excellent stability of the guides.

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Manufacturing Industry In A Post-Pandemic World

Manufacturing Industry In A Post-Pandemic World

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


Norbert Seo
Senior Vice President, Market Division Asia & Australia

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

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

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

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

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence

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


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

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

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


Haecker Carsten
Head of Asia Pacific 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mastercam/CNC Software Inc.

Ben Mund
Senior Market Analyst
Mastercam/CNC Software Inc.

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

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

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

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

Siemens ASEAN

Dr. Thai-Lai Pham
Siemens ASEAN

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

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

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

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

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

VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association)

Dr Wilfried Schäfer
Managing Director 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Industry 5.0: The Future Of Manufacturing In 2035

Industry 5.0: The Future Of Manufacturing In 2035

The Factory of 2035 will look vastly different than the factory of today. Ever since the first Industrial Revolution when mechanisation, water, and steam power started to automate work previously carried out manually, more work has been taken on by machines. Each technological advancement – from computers and robotics to the Internet – has brought about additional automation. Advancement in technologies will remain significant, but the trend of “human touch” will also be in demand in Factory of 2035.

People, machines and fear

Today, internet-enabled “Industry 4.0” – including the robots that form a growing part of its connected technologies – has given rise to new fears that technology is replacing human workers. Representing Industry 4.0 as they do, robots are also bearing the brunt of the latest “technology is replacing us” myths. People have misconceptions that automation technologies and robots threaten people’s livelihoods. Automation does not replace jobs, in fact, it creates new jobs.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article on automated tasks, 20 percent and 80 percent of a given job can involve automatable tasks, but no jobs are 100 percent automatable. This means that even with all the advancements, robots will not replace humans entirely. The fact is that robots help to increase productivity and companies are in the position to employ more people. Hence, robots will create jobs instead of eliminating them.

A new type of factory

The promise of the latest industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, is not just complete factory automation. Manufacturers move towards “light out factory” setups where they can produce goods people demand quickly, with consistently high quality, at unprecedented low cost, and with little human intervention. However, when the ‘lights out factory’ has started to gain traction in actual manufacturing setups, different global consumer trend has emerged – The return of human touch in Industry 5.0.

Mass demand for the human touch, or what is often described as “mass personalisation,” will never be met by large scale lights-out type manufacturing nor by traditional craftspeople working in their own small shops. Today, people want to experience the human touch in mass-manufactured goods. The type of factory needed to produce such goods at a scale and cost that makes production economically feasible will depend on technology. It is not the technology operating without human involvement in a lights-out factory. It will be the technology that collaborates with workers and, where the human touch is involved, serves as a tool that enables the workers to contribute the value they add to the product.

A new type of worker

The workers who will be needed in these new setups are workers who have particular value to add to the product. They must have expertise in an area that is required to give the product the degree of human touch the market demands of it. They may practice a craft or use a discerning eye or other senses to assess work and make adjustments. They may have a special understanding of materials and manufacturing processes. They may be experts in the practice of creativity. What will not be needed are workers who spend their days performing boring, repetitive tasks, or dangerous work. Robots and other machinery can and will do this work better. The days of the old-school line worker will be over.

The factory job in 2035

In 2035, Industry 4.0 and lights-out factories will be a vital part of product manufacturing. The world needs millions of products that do not require any human touch in order to be valuable. There will also be many more Industry 5.0 factories in 2035, and these factories will employ workers, with uniquely human skills. Requiring uniquely human talents like creativity, artistry, materials and process understanding, discerning tastes, understanding of various customs, and complex judgement, these jobs will be nothing like the factory jobs we think of today. It will be jobs that defy the definition of work as “doing things I don’t like to do”, instead, people will love their jobs. These jobs and trends will help humanise labour and make the world a better place to work.

In the current global age, Industry 4.0 is a marriage of IT and manufacturing operations. We have seen the maturation of digital technologies in the manufacturing industry. The smart factories of 2035 will accommodate the new collaborative model. The collaboration between man and machines, in which robots do the strenuous and repetitive work while humans act as the “creative architects”. Human creativity and smart technologies will become a decisive force in 2035.

By: Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots


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KUKA Launches KR IONTEC For The Medium Payload Category

KUKA Launches KR IONTEC For The Medium Payload Category

KUKA is launching the successor to the KR 60-3—the KR IONTEC, setting new standards in terms of flexibility in the medium payload category. It is designed for operation in conventional and digital production worlds and stands out in particular for its large work envelope.

Utmost flexibility and cells with a small footprint

The KR IONTEC can be used in any installation position – on the floor, on the wall or inclined. The option of converting the payload capacity of the installed robot from 30 to up to 70 kg also makes it extremely flexible. Furthermore, with a maximum reach of 3,100 mm, the new KR IONTEC has the largest work envelope in its class. Thanks to its long reach, the ability to work particularly close to the robot itself and the enlarged workspace beneath the robot, the KR IONTEC optimally exploits its work envelope. The reduced space requirements of the robot, with a 30 percent smaller footprint and a 10 percent more streamlined disruptive contour, additionally enable a more compact cell design.

“Powerful, slim, flexible – and fit for the digital production world of the future: With the new KR IONTEC, we are delivering exactly what the market expects from a robot in the medium payload category. And even more,” says Gustavo Moscardo, Chief Sales Officer of KUKA Robotics.

Best values for total cost of ownership (TCO)

The KR IONTEC features the lowest maintenance requirements in its class. The maintenance costs are reduced, for example, by the fact that the robot requires fewer spare parts and that, on average, an oil change is only necessary after every 20,000 hours of operation. Due to the reduced energy consumption, resulting from the improved drive technology and decreased weight of the robot, the running costs are also lower. The new KR IONTEC excels in terms of TCO and life cycle efficiency. Technical availability is over 99 percent and the mean time between failures is around 400,000 hours of operation.

Ready for the production world of the future

The KR IONTEC is ready to use in both conventional and digital production worlds and is equipped with various Motion Modes. These software add-ons can be used to adapt the robot flexibly to different production processes at the press of a button, so to speak: Performance Mode ensures high performance, dynamics and efficiency as standard. Path Mode enables exact continuous-path motion at all velocities with absolute accuracy and precision. Dynamic Mode can be used to minimise cycle times. For Asia Pacific countries, delivery of the first models is scheduled from June onwards.

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