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Hexagon And Plex Systems Announce Partnership To Deliver Smart Manufacturing Solutions

Hexagon And Plex Systems Announce Partnership To Deliver Smart Manufacturing Solutions

Hexagon, a global leader in sensor, software, and autonomous technologies, and Plex Systems, the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, has announced a new strategic partnership.  The global partnership will enable Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division and Plex to co-sell Plex MES to Hexagon manufacturing customers, helping them to take control of the plant floor through full visibility and connectivity and realise the promise of Industry 4.0.

“There’s no question that more connected, data-driven approaches to manufacturing are central to bringing better products to market faster and more cost-effectively with confidence.” said Paolo Guglielmini, president of the Manufacturing Intelligence division at Hexagon.

“Plex brings valuable experience to our customers, and its impressive open MES solution augments our technologies offering a path to ramp up shop floor efficiency by bringing together data from siloed processes to solve manufacturing problems faster and more collaboratively.”

Hexagon and Plex share a common vision for smart manufacturing, offering manufacturers an incremental path to achieve greater automation and Industry 4.0 adoption. Using Plex’s robust Manufacturing Execution System (MES) with integrated quality control, Hexagon customers will be able to augment their workflows by streaming quality measurements, engineering data and other manufacturing information into Plex’s MES creating a digital system of record in real-time.  Manufacturers will benefit from enhanced visibility and control over their inventory and manufacturing processes, while gaining deeper insight, traceability and opportunities for continuous innovation by combining Plex and Hexagon’s digital solutions.

“We are thrilled to partner with Hexagon, an organisation that is just as dedicated to delivering smart manufacturing solutions as we are and with a global scale,” said Bill Berutti, CEO at Plex. “Smart manufacturing isn’t something that will happen years down the road … it’s real, it’s imperative and it’s happening now.”

Hexagon and Plex will partner in opportunities, initially in Europe and India, where Hexagon prospects and customers have MES needs. The combination of Hexagon and Plex for these manufacturers provides a fully digitalised solution from plant measurement and metrology to managing end-to-end production.

“Smart manufacturers are seeking continuous product and process improvements to ensure that quality is measured, enforced and managed in a closed-loop across design, production and inspection,” said Reid Paquin, research director, at IDC. “This new partnership will enable manufacturers to do just that and on a global level.”

 

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Freedom To Measure With Volvo

Freedom To Measure With Volvo

An automotive production plant for Volvo has boosted its productivity and efficiency with advanced measurement systems. Article by Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.  

With some 2400 employees, Volvo Car Body Components (VCBC) in Olofström is an automotive production plant that produces millions of car body parts every year. From hoods and roofs to doors and subassemblies, the facility is dedicated to pressing sheet metal into vital car components that are shipped whole or partially assembled to Volvo car factories around the world for final assembly and finishing.

The earliest production stages of the car design process at Volvo rely heavily on the development of the sheet metal stamping tools designed and manufactured by the Tool and Die team at Olofström. The team is first responsible for producing tool prototypes, and with up with up to 80 tools needed for a vehicle project this can be a four-to-five-month task. Each project typically runs for a year, and the remainder of the time is dedicated to producing the final tooling that will be used to press hundreds of thousands of car body components.

In 2018, the team decided it was time to introduce a modern metrology solution to their tool prototyping and production with the goal of improving productivity. They identified several key steps in their design, production and validation process that could potentially benefit from the introduction of advanced measurement devices. Having a large and well-equipped quality room already in place, the team was already familiar with a wide range of metrology hardware. One of their key considerations was identifying a solution that would be as at home on the shop floor as it was in the quality room.

Improving the Initial Casting

The first step in producing a designed prototype or final tool is the precision milling of a casted block of raw material. Casting is not a precise process, and the casted part is typically delivered with a lot of excess raw material that must be subsequently milled down to the correct size and shape.

A key step in setting up a casted part for milling is ensuring there is no collision between the milling machine and part as they are both moved into position. Such a collision can result in expensive and time-consuming damage to the CNC milling machine. Therefore, the operator must introduce a safety factor when setting things up – positioning the machine far enough away from the material that they are sure no collision will occur. Doing this by eye is not easy, and often means that the milling machine spends a significant amount of time at the beginning of its program milling nothing.

“When you can optimise the milling program to the actual size of the material, that’s the big time saving, because it doesn’t matter if the machine goes through the air or through the material, it’s the same speed,” said Kim Tingstedt, Tool and Die Operator at VCBC Olofström.

This optimisation was already being performed, but with the comprehensive data provided by a scanner, things could be much easier. This casting scan data can be used in other ways to improve production. Tool castings are extremely heavy and difficult to move, so any possibility to make them lighter improves their usability and reduces the amount of raw material required to make them. This means they have to be as small as possible – but not too small; if not enough material is left between the outside of the tool and the inside of its precision mould, it won’t be strong enough to withstand repeated high-power stamping.

Using scan data taken after casting, the casting of subsequent prototypes and final tools can be refined to ensure the minimum weight and raw material usage is achieved without diminishing the structural integrity of the tool. This also has the benefit of allowing the milling machine to begin its work closer to the final part shape with each iteration, compounding the time savings at every step.

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Hexagon Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centre Opens In Singapore

Hexagon Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centre Opens In Singapore

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has opened the doors of its new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Singapore  – fitted with a wide array of advanced hardware and software technologies aimed at enabling an autonomous future.

Hexagon’s flagship facility in Southeast Asia will showcase an unparalleled portfolio of smart digital manufacturing technologies and autonomous connected ecosystems. This includes Hexagon’s latest advanced Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) solutions for design engineering; Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software for production applications; precision metrology, superior sensors, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, data management and analytics solutions.

The centre, currently resourced with more than two dozen people, is committed to strengthening and accelerating the development of smart manufacturing and autonomous solutions by improving design quality and production efficiencies.

Lim Boon Choon, President for Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, Korea, ASEAN, Pacific, and India said that, “This centre marks our on-going drive to bring Hexagon’s smart solutions into this region for the benefit of businesses here. It offers an environment for innovators, design engineers and manufacturers to test proof their inventions for quality, safety and productivity with access to our latest offerings which are a part of Hexagon’s Smart Solution portfolio.

“We are the only provider in the world with the end-to-end connected capabilities – from design, production, quality assurance, data analysis, digital twin, shop floor connectivity, to Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.

“Hexagon’s Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centre allows us to move closer towards creating an autonomous future where business, industry and humanity sustainably thrive,” enthused Lim.

He hinted at exciting updates on the horizon. “More of Hexagon’s revolutionary smart technologies including the latest advanced non-contact sensors fitted on-machine, on coordinate measuring machines (CMM) as well as on Laser Trackers, to elevate quality and precision to the highest level possible will soon be featured at the centre. This is a pioneering achievement, one that the industry has not seen to-date.”

Meanwhile, Paolo Guglielmini, President of Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division said, “As a global leader of advanced technologies and smart manufacturing, Singapore is a strategic location for Hexagon’s innovation centre in the ASEAN region.”

Industry research points to a shifting tide towards autonomous smart manufacturing in the next five years in Southeast Asia, especially with many industries and governments pushing for digitalisation.

The region has also seen the rapid rise of new innovations and start-ups and unfolding of 5G technologies which are expected to spur the growth of many industries from electronics to semiconductors, medical technology, eMobility, clean energy and more.

Lim highlighted that the aerospace, automotive, electronics, medical technology as well as energy industries would stand to especially benefit from this facility.

The new Innovation Centre offers design and production engineers the very best environment to learn, experiment, interact, and facilitate deeper learning and knowledge transfer in areas such as reverse engineering, additive manufacturing, shop-floor automated inspection and digitalisation of operations.

Solutions at the Hexagon’s Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centre include:

  • Advanced CAE solutions for design engineering, for simulation such as Cradle and [virtual manufacturing / manufacturing process simulation] tools such as the Simufact portfolio
  • CAM software for production solutions like NCSIMUL and VISI Reverse
  • Asset management and connected shopfloor digital solutions like SFx Asset Management,
  • Quality analysis solutions such as Q-DAS, VGSTUDIO Max and Laser Trackers
  • Statistical Process Control to collect data for analytics.

 

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Hexagon And Authentise Partner To Deliver First Open End-To-End Software Solution For AM

Hexagon And Authentise Partner To Deliver First Open End-To-End Software Solution For AM

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division and Authentise have partnered to extend the Additive Manufacturing (AM) control loop from the machine level to connect the end-to-end value chain from design, manufacturing operations and quality assurance to make additive manufacturing more predictable, repeatable and traceable.

Data from shopfloor manufacturing operations, engineering data from the design phase, materials properties and quality data from validation and inspection processes hold the key to automating serial production improvements and enabling design improvements. However, the technical challenge of connecting these silos and applying these data have inhibited the ability to consistently apply AM to new designs. New solutions delivered through the partnership will apply Statistical Process Control (SPC) with Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods to mitigate waste and quality issues during the design phase and improve the repeatability of additive manufacturing processes within a site or between global locations.

Through the partnership, Hexagon and Authentise will build solutions to industrialise AM technology by digitising every step of the workflow from part design through production to final product and quality assurance utilising their unique stack of technology capabilities to connect the digital thread of a part and trace its pedigree. This is made possible by a shared commitment to open architectures that integrate data and automate workflows between Hexagon´s best-of-breed applications for AM and the third-party equipment and software manufacturers chose to use.

Mathieu Pérennou, Global Business Development Director Additive Manufacturing, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division says, “Together with Authentise, we are building a next-generation framework for our customers to manage flexible, fully digitised production workflows in private cloud environments. For manufacturers, AM is a complex and changing market with many excellent tools, printers and materials to apply. We believe our open and flexible systems will enable us to respond quickly to customer’s needs and integrate with their unique environments. This will connect the data flow and help streamline their workflows in all stages of the AM process – before, during and after production and support their specific standards or compliance needs.”

Authentise is a key partner in Hexagon´s open AM ecosystem, having built an open manufacturing execution system tailored to the specific needs of additive manufacturing methods. This growing ecosystem provides a broad solution portfolio that allows Hexagon to build solutions tailored to the specific needs of customers from different industries and any level of complexity – from achieving high volume production of precision metal gears to first-time-right production of bespoke aerospace parts from composites.

Andre Wegner, CEO, Authentise says, “We are excited to combine Hexagon’s solutions with our open workflow management engine to offer a unique end-to-end solution platform. Integrating data from Hexagon’s best-of-breed software and sensors helps deliver a seamless experience for users, automation across their process, and unlocks the ability to learn from data. This partnership represents a step change for the industry – together we’re delivering the integrated digital thread for additive manufacturing that customers have sought for so long.”

 

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Outlook 2021

Outlook 2021

Experts in the metalworking industry provided their outlook for the coming year and their insights on how manufacturers should navigate whatever challenges the industry might still have along the way to recovery.

The year 2020 had been an extraordinary one, with the COVID-19 pandemic basically putting the global manufacturing industry on a standstill—at least except those essential industries that have scrambled to create medical equipment such as ventilators, and testing kits, as well as personal protective equipment including face masks and face shields.

The pandemic put into spotlight the agility and resiliency needed in every manufacturing industry, as supply chains get stuck and manufacturers are at a loss as to how to obtain their raw materials and parts. 

Nevertheless, the show must go on. And as vaccines are now being developed, it won’t be long until we see light at the end of this tunnel. In this special feature, experts in the metalworking industry provided their outlook for the coming year and their insights on how manufacturers should navigate whatever challenges the industry might still have along our way to recovery.

Creaform

Simon Côté, Product Manager

The metalworking industry will continue to undergo major transformations in 2021. As customers continue to require more complex and sophisticated parts, it is becoming even more crucial for metalworking firms to implement new strategies and technologies to monitor the quality and compliance of final products—all while accelerating throughput due to demanding timelines.

Click here to read Simon’s outlook! 

Faccin Group

Rino Boldrini, Metal Forming Machine Specialist

There is no doubt 2020 will be remembered by most as a year to forget due to the pandemic and the global uncertainty, but it will also be considered as a starting point by those that were able to adapt to the market challenges by implementing or accelerating innovation-focused plans.

Click here to read what Rino expects this year! 

TRUMPF Asia Pacific

Chong Chee Ter, Managing Director

The outlook for the global economy in 2020 deteriorated significantly primarily due to the massive economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, we nevertheless are expecting global GDP growth to return back to the level of 2019.

Click here to read Chee Ter’s insights for 2021! 

igus

Carsten Haecker, Head of Asia Pacific

Metalworking companies across all industries have been facing increasing demands for years now—albeit some levelling was and is still visible in the current pandemic.  To hold their own fortress against international competition, companies need versatile and efficient solutions for a wide variety of production tasks. One solution is the digitalization and networking of production and logistics processes—the basic technologies surrounding Industry 4.0.

Click here to read Carsten’s outlook! 

ISCAR

Eran Salmon, Executive Head of Research and Development

“Business as Usual” is constantly being redefined at ISCAR to meet the varying needs of global metalworking industries. In such a reality, innovative technologies and business opportunities emerge to meet all the challenges ahead. 

Click here to read Eran’s insights for 2021! 

Marposs KK Japan and SEA

Marco Zoli
President

2020 has seen the COVID-19 pandemic act on top of the existing geopolitical factors and on the shift to e-mobility, with the result of accelerating the evolution of the manufacturing environment. The trend of focusing on production resilience is set to continue, resulting in a more localized supply chain and a higher concentration on global players. 

Click here to read what Marco expects for the year! 

Paul Horn GmbH

Lothar Horn, CEO

Despite the restrictions predicted for 2021, most businesses have not stood still. In industries where exhibitions play a major role, it was more a question of how to bring innovations to market—especially with regard to communication. Many of the people I spoke to were initially very excited about the digital possibilities, and certainly rightly so. 

Click here to read Lothar’s outlook for 2021! 

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence

Boon Choon Lim, President, Korea, ASEAN, Pacific, India

The year 2020 was characterized by virtual work and learning, as individuals and businesses reinvented themselves to maintain productivity. Optimising the digital landscape will continue in 2021, as companies embrace innovation to meet their needs. 

Click here to read what Boon Choon expects in 2021! 

Sandvik Coromant

Rolf Olofsson, Global Product Manager

To stay competitive, manufacturers need to rely more on digitized processes and less manual interaction. To meet the new requirements, we need to continue to drive the development and digitalization of the manufacturing industry. Sandvik Coromant have a unique venture with Microsoft, combining Sandvik Coromant’s expertise in machining with Microsoft’s technical solutions. 

Click here to read Rolf’s insights for 2021! 

Siemens Digital Industries Software

Alex Teo, Managing Director and Vice President for South East Asia

2020 underscored two important pillars of manufacturing: adaptability and resiliency. With COVID-19 disrupting global supply chains, manufacturers need to inject their production chain with the agility to pivot and adapt to constantly changing market conditions. 

Click here to read what Alex expects in 2021! 

SLM Solutions Singapore

Gary Tang, Sales Director, Southeast Asia

“Change is the only constant in life” and this is characteristically so for 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Though businesses were disrupted, but in the same fast pace, opportunities arose for additive manufacturing (AM) in the medical frontline, responding quickly to severe restrictions in supply chains and traditional manufacturing bases.

Click here to read Gary’s outlook for 2021! 

Renishaw ASEAN

Steve Bell, General Manager

Unusual times in 2020 have brough significant difficulties in all walks of life, and manufacturing is no exception. The downturn in industrial activity has been evident during these COVID-19 times—mandatory closures, disruptions to the supply chain, and the stringent social distancing regulations imposed a devastating impact worldwide including the ASEAN region.   

Click here to read what Steve expects this year! 

VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association)

Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Managing Director

The coronavirus pandemic is leaving deep scars in the German and international machine tool industry. For 2020, the VDW expects a decline in production of 30 percent. After economic data and economic indicators showed an upward trend in the third quarter, uncertainty in the economy is currently increasing in view of the second wave of the pandemic.

Click here to read Dr. Wilfried’s outlook for this year! 

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Automatic Calculation And Transfer Of Tool Correction Values To Machine Tool Control

Automatic Calculation and Transfer of Tool Correction Values to Machine Tool Control

This article discusses a reliable, standardised and automated process for tool correction adjustment based on the calculation of statistical indicators, to sustainably increase product quality and to further optimise process stability. Article by Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.

With its expertise in machining and automation technology as well as process development, BOOSTER Precision Components (Schwanewede) GmbH produces compressor wheels in Germany, Mexico, and China, for the local markets. The compressor wheel is one of the core components in the turbocharger and compresses the supply air for the combustion process. This increases performance and improves emissions values.

Identifying Goals

BOOSTER Precision Components implements the highest quality requirements in the manufacture of compressor wheels. To monitor the required product quality, random samples are taken at defined intervals and measured in production at manual measuring stations as well as in the measuring room with automated measuring technology. A direct feedback in the production is done by means of visualization of the Measurement results at the production machines, in order to enable a corresponding small control loop and tool corrections.

In the large control loop, defined key figures are automatically reported, cause-and-effect relationships analysed, production anomalies automatically identified and communicated as well as visualized in the web control centre. Of course, previous qualification measures for equipment and processes form the basis of an automated monitoring system.

BOOSTER has continuously developed this system using Q-DAS statistical software products and optimised it over time.

One of the key points and potential weak points identified in the process, especially in the small control loop on site (shop floor), was the individual tool correction adjustment based on Q-DAS statistics. This happened due to personal, and thus, individual decisions made by the respective employee. As a result, this led to differing procedures and thus different process behaviour and tool management within the different shifts.

The objective of the project was to introduce Q-DAS IMC (Intelligent Machine Control) to achieve a reliable, standardised and automated process for tool correction adjustment based on the calculation of statistical indicators, to sustainably increase product quality and to further optimise process stability. Furthermore, Q-DAS IMC allows tool corrections to be traced back.

Overcoming Challenges

The already implemented Q-DAS system for continuous qualification and monitoring of the running production has already laid the important basis for the application of Q-DAS IMC: A clean data structure for the transmission of the Measurement results with relevant trace information (line, machine, tool, spindle, measuring system, …) to a direct assignment of relevant feedback information for Q-DAS IMC. Immediate online visualisation of measurement results for over 40 machine tools has been implemented since many years now and is thus the basis for further development.

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Hexagon Launches Next Generation, Entry-Level Multisensor CMM

Hexagon Launches Next Generation, Entry-Level Multisensor CMM

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has released a new multisensor coordinate measuring machine (CMM) that facilitates smart manufacturing by providing a cost-effective entry point into automated measurement. Fully compatible with a range of Hexagon smart technologies, the OPTIV Lite 3.2.2 is designed to deliver a smooth transition from manual to automatic quality methods for greater inspection accuracy, reliability, and efficiency. In addition, the CMM offers connectivity to end-to-end manufacturing solutions for process and product improvements traditionally beyond the scope of entry-level machines.

OPTIV Lite 3.2.2 is purpose-built for quick and precise non-contact and tactile measurement of small parts across a range of industries, including electronics, e-Mobility, precision engineering, and medical. Offering complete traceability of measurement results and a simplified interface for ease-of-use, OPTIV Lite 3.2.2 is ideal for manufacturers looking to seamlessly adopt automated inspection procedures or meet expanding production demands.

OPTIV Lite 3.2.2 is optimised for reliable inspection close to production environments, with its rugged mechanical design, high machine dynamics, and capabilities for precise measurement in a wide temperature range. This lightweight machine offers a small factory footprint and excellent accuracy with its 6x motorised zoom lens with high resolution digital colour camera. Application flexibility can be enhanced with the optional touch-trigger probe HP-TM and the HR-MP probe changer rack that can hold up to three probe modules. Further options include a laser triangulation sensor and a rotary indexing table.

PC-DMIS metrology software comes as standard with OPTIV Lite 3.2.2, and users can increase operational simplicity with Inspect, a stand-alone application that allows production-level operators to easily execute measurement routines using a standard, user-friendly interface. Users can monitor system status remotely using HxGN SFx | Asset Management, enabling quality teams to optimise CMM performance and minimise downtime.

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Simulation Irons Out Metal Binder Jetting Defects To Enable Mass-Production AM

Simulation Irons Out Metal Binder Jetting Defects To Enable Mass-Production AM

Simufact, part of Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, has introduced metal binder jetting (MBJ) simulation, that is enabling manufacturers to predict and prevent the distortion that sintering processes will have on parts at the design stage for the first time. The new simulation tool marks a significant step forward for additive manufacturing because it helps manufacturers achieve the quality they require while exploiting the unique benefits MBJ offers for volume production.

Metal binder jetting is an emerging additive manufacturing technology that has several key advantages over common powder bed fusion processes; high volumes of parts can be printed with minimal spacing; no support structures are needed, and larger lot sizes are possible. It has the potential to replace low-volume, high-cost metal injection moulding for everything from automotive and aircraft parts to medical applications. Because high resolution is possible, it could also reduce the cost and lead times for production of complex and lightweight metallic parts such as gears or turbine wheels.

However, early adopters can expect a steep learning curve to learn how to achieve the quality they need to exploit these benefits. One key challenge has been predicting changes during the sintering process. A part can shrink as much as 35 percent and the simple shrinkage models used for other processes cannot predict distortion during the post-build sintering process. Until now, costly physical trials were required to perfect the printing of each part, preventing many manufacturers realising the low cost and flexibility MBJ offers.

Made available to existing Simufact Additive customers in August, the new tool extends its capabilities for MBJ processes. Manufacturers can predict the shrinkage caused by factors such as the thermal strain, friction, and gravity during sintering without specialist simulation knowledge. By compensating for these changes, parts can be 3D Printed as they are designed, and production teams can significantly reduce the proportion of parts that must be scrapped or re-processed. Sintering-induced mechanical stress is also predicted before print, indicating where defects might occur. Manufacturers can use this information to make changes earlier in their product development and reduce the need for costly redesign.

Designed for busy manufacturing professionals, the tool can automate the model setup, preparing the CAD or CAE file for manufacturing simulation and simulations can also be automated through Python scripts. To validate the sintering compensation and increase confidence in quality, the optimised geometry from the MBJ tool can be immediately compared to both the initial design (CAD) geometry and a metrology scan of a manufactured part within user interface.

“We are pleased to introduce the first solution for simulating metal binder jetting sintering process to the market so that manufacturers can take advantage of this important new method. We know customers see metal binder jetting as a pivotal technology for manufacturing, particularly where there’s a need to need to produce intricate parts at high volumes like the automotive industry.

This development was only possible through close collaboration between our manufacturing and printer equipment partners and our highly experienced research & development department,” said Dr. Gabriel McBain, Senior Director Product Management, Simufact & FTI.

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July/August 2020 Issue Of APMEN Magazine Is Now Available

July/August 2020 Issue Of APMEN Magazine Is Now Available

The July/August 2020 issue of Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) magazine features the latest developments happening in the world of metalworking, including new tool materials, the right spindle repair, CFRP tools, intelligent punching heads, CMM with mass technology, and the trend towards smart, automated manufacturing, and more.

Another feature in this issue is a collection of insights from industry leaders regarding their outlook for the rest of the year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—what to expect, what the business landscape could be like, what they are doing to navigate these challenges. Hear what key executives from Bystronic, igus, Siemens ASEAN, VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, and Mastercam have to say.

Read the July/August 2020 issue of APMEN magazine, now on our virtual newsstand, and available for delivery in your e-mailbox by subscribing here.

 

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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.

Bystronic

Norbert Seo
Senior Vice President, Market Division Asia & Australia
Bystronic

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. 

igus

Carsten Haecker
Head of Asia Pacific 
igus

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
CEO
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 
VDW

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. 

For other exclusive articles, visit www.equipment-news.com.

 

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