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VDW Discusses Trends Shaping Metalworking Industry

VDW Discusses Trends Shaping Metalworking Industry

Dr. Wilfried Schaefer at VDW speaks with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News about the technology trends shaping the global metalworking industry. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Dr. Wilfried Schäfer

Dr. Wilfried Schaefer, Managing Director of German Machine Tool Builders’ Association (VDW – Verein Deutscher Werkzeugmaschinenfabriken e.V.), speaks with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News on the sidelines of the EMO Hannover 2019 event in Germany, where he discussed the technology trends shaping the global metalworking industry.

Tell us about VDW and its goals and mission.

Dr. Wilfried Schaefer (WS): The German Machine Tool Builders’ Association has about 265 member companies, which is 90-95% of the German production chain for machine tools. We are a service organisation supporting our members, which are more or less small and medium size companies—they don’t have so many departments which do general activities, so we support them in statistics and market research, we support them in technical means, and we run research projects. We are very strong in standardisation in all fields of relevance for our industry.

On the other side, we are a trade show organiser. We are also supporting our companies outside of European marketing activities, running technology symposia, things like these. And in addition, we have founded a youth organisation in 2009, which is an independent legal body, but is managed by us. The target of this is to support vocational training—so, writing content for teachers, trainers and companies, and upgrading the content in the field of digital technologies—because not only in the academia level but also on the level of vocational training, people must understand what digitalisation is all about, where it comes from, what it means, and so on.

What technology or manufacturing challenges have you seen or are you seeing in the metalworking industry?

WS: We have a continuous technology development in all aspects of this value chain—the machines, tooling, measurement devices—which is a continuous ongoing improvement by the individual companies, so there is no specific trend in these product categories. Overall, we are all talking about the topic of digitisation—I think this is the major topic for not only the machine tool business but for quite a number of companies in the field of intelligent tooling, intelligent clamping, controller business, measurement devices where the data come from, and also the machinery.

Are there new technology applications that have emerged over the past year or two?

WS: Besides the topic of digitisation, you mainly see that everybody is trying to optimise his processes in various terms, so increasing productivity and cost reduction for the customer. Another aspect is new software-driven solutions for automation. This is a strong activity.

What can you say about 3d printing, specifically metal 3d printing? how do you see that impacting the metalworking industry?

WS: Maybe different from what you could have read from the past years, when people are saying that the car will be printed in the future. We do not agree on this. 3D printing is an interesting technology, offering new possibilities in complex structures for example; it covers a specific need or a specific solution that is easier to achieve than with classical production means. But it is one additional technology besides all the others. That’s our thinking. It has to be integrated in the value chain, which is in some cases, on industrial perspective, different from rapid prototyping.

It is not so easy to integrate 3D printing in the whole chain of product design, production with 3D printing, post-production with cutting, because you cannot assemble a metal 3D printed piece; you need post processes.

Where does Industry 4.0 fit and what opportunities and risks does it bring to the machine tool industry?

WS: Industry 4.0 is not all about machines being connected. Machines have been controlled digitally for many years, as we have a controller; and machines have been connected in flexible systems also for years now. Industry 4.0, in addition to what we do today—you have MES systems to get data out of your system, these are available five or eight years ago (since five to eight years?) —enables us to get new volumes of data that may give you additional information to better control the machine and the process, to predict situations in the machine or the process. This will offer machine tool builders the opportunity to, out of his knowhow of the machine system and of the process, develop new functionalities which are supporting the needs of the customer.

What is the importance of the umati standard for the metalworking industry?

WS: Industry 4.0 is possible to be realised already. You take a machine with a controller, then you connect it to the cloud, and you get all the data. The problem is that this connectivity between a machine system and a software or cloud system or platform is usually proprietary. You have a data connectivity with Siemens, one with Fanuc, one for Microsoft Cloud, and so on. In each and every connection you make, of course, the customer tells you what he wants. It needs additional effort. With umati, we want to realise a standard that will enable you to plug and play machines to the cloud—the machine talks umati, and the cloud understands umati.

What do you think will ensure the success of umati?

WS: Two major aspects are needed. First of all, the controller people and the platform people will offer OPC-UA server and OPC-UA client structures so that you can upload umati easily and connect. This is important and I think we are on the right track. At least on the side of the controller business, around 80 to 90 percent of the capacity of controller producers are within the umati project.

On the other side, of course, it is necessary that the machine tool producers all over the world agree on this standard because it cannot be a German or European standard; because then we will have a European standard, a US standard, and an Asian standard—then again, this will be kind of proprietary because then, some customers would use this one, others would use another one, and still others would use a third one. Therefore, it is important that on a wide, broad base, umati will be realised and integrated in all (their) projects.

What technology developments should manufacturers look out for in the next year?

WS: We have to mention digitisation, because as people talk about Industry 4.0 for quite some time now, you really have a feeling that it has been on the shop floor and has already been integrated. But there is still a lot to do, and a lot of possibilities to take; and these possibilities are different depending on whether you are a component producer, or tool producer, or you are a machine tool builder; it has to fit in the strategies. That’s why I do not see an overall answer to this.

On the other hand, aside from digitisation, there is a transformation happening in the automotive industry. Therefore, those companies who are delivering solutions into the automotive industry have to really look at this and make sure that they adapt their production solutions to the upcoming needs of the customers.

What are the opportunities for growth that you are seeing in Southeast Asia?

WS: They are continuously developing; asking for more sophisticated production solutions. This is also driven by—which is different from country to country—the strategies of the governments supporting industry clusters and industry sectors. In those areas, we see a lot of development in automotive supply, like in Thailand; we see similar developments in electronics production in Vietnam, for example; and so on.

There are different strategies and different developments in these countries; but overall, there is the continuous growth of industrial production.

What is your outlook for the metalworking next year?

WS: The problem is that it is difficult to predict at the moment, because we have influencing factors that are out of, let’s say, classical possibilities to predict future developments. Of course, we usually have some 10-year cycles, but it’s always a question of how strong these cycles are; and what the influencing factors are. At the moment, a very strong influencing factor besides enough capacity is the free-trade problem that we have. This free trade problem, or trade war, whatever you will call them, is between the two largest consuming markets—China and the US. And these consuming markets are consuming production technologies themselves, so this, and other countries as well, are influencing the investment situation overall.

We have to wait until some politicians have, let’s say, better strategies than the current ones. In Europe we have a similar situation with the Brexit, we have a similar situation with the sanctions in Russia, so there’s a lot of political uncertainty, which is influencing our sector. This is one aspect.

The other aspect is the overall transformation of mobility. Currently there is some uncertainty as to how to invest and what to invest in depending on the strategy of the drive solutions–maybe just pure battery, maybe fuel cell, or it might be something else. If these strategies become clearer, then investments—because new car models have to be produced—are going to come up again.

 

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ISCAR CTO Stresses On Productivity Improvement

ISCAR CTO Stresses On Productivity Improvement

Erich Timons, CTO of ISCAR Germany GmbH, speaks with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News about tooling trends and challenges, and how the industry should move forward by improving productivity. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Erich Timons

From its humble establishment in 1952, ISCAR has grown to become one of the biggest tool manufacturers in the world, operating in more than 50 countries and having over 50 global subsidiaries. Based in Israel, the company—a part of the IMC Group—provides innovative cutting tools for the metalworking industry.

At the recent EMO Hannover 2019 event in Germany, Erich Timons, CTO of ISCAR Germany GmbH, the second biggest subsidiary of ISCAR worldwide, speaks with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News about tooling trends and challenges, and how ISCAR is helping their customers improve their productivity.

What are the biggest tooling challenges for your customers?

Erich Timons (ET): Our customers are always asking for more productivity; how they can produce as quickly as possible. They are also concerned with how they can make their manufacturing process safer and more efficient.

Where does ISCAR come in? How are you helping your customers in their manufacturing challenges?

ET: What we do is analyse the company’s processes. What we like to do is not just to look for one tool, but to build up a new and complete process—finding out how we can save time by increasing the speed or the feed, or using a combination of tools, to reduce the number of total tools and to make the production faster.

What industries are driving the tool market right now?

ET: Germany is driven by the automotive industry. Overall in Europe, I think it is nearly the same. Fifty percent of our total revenue comes from the automotive industry, so we are highly driven by the changes in the automotive sector. Having said that, we see that automotive customers are going to be even more flexible because they must deal with a wide variety of engines right now, unlike in the past where we had only one kind. Some automotive OEMs in Germany even have four of five different engines that they are producing in one line—therefore our tooling needs to be more flexible than in the past.

Asia is quite similar to Europe. Looking at markets like China, for example, you will see a big automotive industry. Volkswagen, for instance, had opened a lot of subsidiaries and a lot of plants in China; and we are working really closely with them. I think this is one of our biggest advantages, because we are in close contact with our partners in China.

Meanwhile, Thailand is a big and growing market; the same as Vietnam, which is also growing. We also see the Philippines as a potential market. We are really strong in South Korea, not only with ISCAR but another IMC partner, Taegutec, where we have a big production unit there. Overall, we are supporting all of Asia from Germany.

ISCAR CTO Stresses On Productivity ImprovementAs much as you want the tools to be long lasting, you still have to sell a lot of it. how do you manage that compromise, ensuring tool life but selling more?

ET: Sometimes, what I tell the customer is that we are providing a long tool life, but at the end, you have to break a tool to make some money. Besides productivity on the machine, we also see a big change in the tool setup. This is a big issue in a lot of companies—they have to invest a lot of time in making the tool setup. The reason for this is to not only to see what happens inside the machine, but also to ensure that the customer can make changes easily with the inserts or the drill, for example. So, it is really important to make the setup not too complicated.

What are some of your product highlights at the show?

ET: ISCAR is well known in parting because our roots come from this application. We have a brand-new tool here, the MULTIFGRIP. Parting is still the bottleneck in the production, so with this tool, the customer can go each feed they want in parting. With this tool, we can also measure the forces and the vibration, you can connect it to the machine, and you can adapt the influence of the feed and the speed to have a production without any vibration at all.

What is your strategy towards Industry 4.0?

ET: There are different ways to support Industry 4.0. First of all, we have an app, ISCAR World, which includes many features. For example, you can go to the electronic catalogue and build a 3D model of the assembly of the tools to use in your CAM system. You can have a recommendation on the cutting speed and feed for your application by using the ITA (ISCAR Tool Advisor). With Industry 4.0, it is not only the hardware but also the digital twin of the tool. That is one point.

Another Tool is our MATRIX System. MATRIX is not only a vending machine. Its connected to any ERP System at our customer and help to balance inventories to an optimum ratio.

With these solutions including intelligent tools we support our customers in all areas of their production.

Industry 4.0 is not one feature—it is everything working together, from the beginning until the end of production.

Latest technologies from ISCAR on display at EMO Hannover 2019.What is your outlook for the metalworking industry over the next year?

ET: In the automotive side, we will see a lot of changes within five to 10 years because everybody is talking about e-mobility. But I think we also have to look on new materials, as well as develop tools that are more user friendly. We also have to look for production and productivity improvement, as well as flexibility. There are a lot of things we have to cover. It will also be very interesting to see the development of Industry 4.0. Overall, it will be a challenge.

Do you have any final comments?

ET: I am very excited to see what will happen at EMO because we’ve seen a slowdown in the industry. Everybody is looking at the negative trends, but I am looking to the positive side, because I believe the metalworking industry is not going to die. Don’t look at the bad side. I think this is the year of positive things, because now, the customers have time to evaluate their production. Now is the time to be really agile, to be fast and flexible, and to look how to improve.

Don’t wait for the industry to get better; now is the time to start improving your production.

 

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Blechexpo/Schweisstec 2019 Concludes With Record-Breaking Dimensions

Blechexpo/Schweisstec 2019 Concludes With Record-Breaking Dimensions

As expected, the 14th Blechexpo international trade fair for sheet metal working, together with the 7th Schweisstec international trade fair for joining technology, was an industry highlight and closed successfully with 1498 exhibitors from 36 countries. 41,152 visitors from a total of 113 countries took advantage of the trade fair duo, which in the meantime has grown to 108,000 square metres of exhibition floor space, in order to bring themselves up to date with regard to sheet metal, pipe and profile processing, as well as cutting, joining, forming and welding technologies, from 5-7 November 2019.

Record-Breaking Figures in all Categories – Nine Fully Occupied Halls – More International than Ever

The Blechexpo/Schweisstec trade fair duo broke several records this year: 1498 exhibitors from 36 countries (as opposed to 1339 in 2017) were on hand in Stuttgart. “45 percent of them came from outside of Germany”, sums up Georg Knauer with a satisfied smile. “This year’s Blechexpo/Schweisstec was more international than ever before.”

And it was bigger than ever as well: With a total of 108,000 square metres, roughly 15 percent more exhibition floor space was booked than in 2017. For the first time, Blechexpo/Schweisstec occupied new exhibition hall 10, which enhances the Stuttgart Exhibition Centre with its spacious and modern design.

“For us, this technical event is a leading trade fair of very high significance,” remarked Wolfgang Wiedenmann, deputy sales manager at press manufacturer Andritz Kaiser. Despite the fact that the industry is currently having to deal with noticeable declines in incoming orders for various reasons, Blechexpo/Schweisstec was a well-received and important technology and knowledge platform: where thermal and mechanical processing of sheet metal, pipe and profiles is concerned, as well as processing machines and systems for stamping, bending, bevelling and forming, right on up to peripherals including controllers, software and solutions for handling and quality assurance, this trade fair is a unique marketplace for the industry sector’s current challenges and future issues. As a logical consequence, subject matter covering digitalisation and automation dominated here as well. To an ever-greater extent, emphasis is being placed on modern cutting technologies: alone the issue of laser cutting was presented by 56 exhibitors, and 25 further companies exhibited technologies covering all aspects of high-pressure water-jet cutting.

Highlight for the Sheet Metal Working Sector – Process-Oriented, Practical, Forward-Looking

Held once every two years, the Blechexpo/Schweisstec trade fair duo was distinguished once again this year by its strictly practice-oriented concept and was able to cover all aspects affecting the world of sheet metal processing and metalworking, which is now more digitalised and consistently automated than ever before. The Industrieverband Blechumformung (industry association for sheet metal forming) organised a communal booth and was thus able to offer its members the opportunity of presenting themselves in a more comprehensive setting. 16 companies participated. This mutual presence drew attention and formed the basis for an adequate platform for business-related networking.

The trade fair’s topics included trends, innovations and future-proof solutions in the wake of a rapidly changing production environment. For example, modern joining and fastening technologies are becoming increasingly important because many new and hybrid materials can’t be cut or joined by means of thermal processes – as a result, more attention is being focused on mechanical joining technology in the field of lightweight design.

World-Class Supplementary Program Generates Strong Interest

The exhibitor forum in hall 9 was received once again with great interest by the expert visitors. The presentation programme was brimming full all three days, in particular with issues covering all aspects of digitalisation.

This was also the subject of the stahlnews.de/Blechexpo Expert Meet on the evening of the first day of the trade fair. Organiser Hans Diederichs was able to welcome roughly 50 interested parties to the event in keeping with the motto: “The Steel Industry in Times of Globalisation and Industry 4.0”.

Already for the fourth time, the “Blechexpo Award” was awarded to the most innovative exhibits in five different categories. With its MC 125 automatic stamping press, Schuler was the winner in the stamping and forming technology category. Kjellberg Finsterwalde Plasma und Maschinen won in the cutting technology category with its Q 3000 plasma cutting system. The winner in the joining technology category was Trumpf Laser- und Systemtechnik with their TruLaser Station 7000 – a 3D laser welding machine. The award for surface finishing technology went to Q-Fin Quality Finishing Machines for their SER600 Super Edge Rounder (a deburring and edge rounding machine). Last but not least, Cenit was distinguished in the handling and automation category for their cross-manufacturer cutting and joining software, namely Fastsuite Edition 2.

The next Blechexpo/Schweisstec trade fair duo will take place from the 2nd through the 5th of November, 2021.

 

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Siemens On Data, Digitalisation, And Umati

Siemens On Data, Digitalisation, And Umati

In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Uwe-Armin Ruttkamp of Siemens Digital Industries talked about how digitalisation is helping machine builders and users, the utilisation of data to improve manufacturing processes, as well as how umati will help push the metalworking industry forward. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Uwe-Armin Ruttkamp

One of the highlights of Siemens’ booth at EMO Hannover 2019 is the latest generation of its Sinumerik One, the first digital native CNC aimed at driving the digital transformation in the machine tool industry. Siemens has also extended its Industrial Edge offerings for Sinumerik Edge to include more new applications to help machine tool users improve workpiece and process quality, increase machine availability, and further optimise machine processes.

With Sinumerik One, machine tool manufacturers can virtually map their entire development processes, significantly reducing the product development phase and time to market for new machines. This helps machine builders significantly reduce the duration of actual commissioning. Its virtual model opens up new possibilities for manufacturers and operators—machine concepts and functions can be discussed even before real hardware is available.

Sinumerik One enables machine users the programming of workpieces in the virtual environment and the setup and operation of machines completely on the PC. Employee training can also be carried out using the digital twin instead of the actual machine. These hardware and software innovations help machine builders and operators speed up processing steps significantly.

In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Uwe-Armin Ruttkamp, Head of Machine Tool Systems, Motion Control Business Unit, Siemens Digital Industries, talked more about the benefits of these new technologies and how digitalisation is helping machine builders and users. He also discussed the utilisation of data to improve manufacturing processes, as well as how umati will help push the metalworking industry forward.

When we look at the current potential for these technologies and all that they involve, are they more suited to advanced markets such as Europe or the US?

Uwe-Armin Ruttkamp (UR): I wouldn’t say so. You have all kinds of industries also in Asian countries. Not everything is low-cost and price-driven; they are also technology driven, especially aerospace, automotive industries, or the upcoming additive manufacturing.

So, there’s a lot of technologies driving the industries. In addition to this, labour is not staying on this low-cost level—in Asian countries, people want to earn more money as well—so saving time, and saving cost by saving time, is also an issue for Asian countries.

How does this technology play out in the smart factory concept?

UR: It plays perfectly into that concept, because with our Digital Enterprise (DE) Portfolio we offer a holistic end-to-end solution including industrial software and automation that allows the use of a seamless value chain. This value chain consists of five steps for the machine user, and five steps for the machine builder. If you build a machine, you start with a concept, mechanics, you go to electrical design, you go to engineering, you go to commissioning, and sometimes, it also needs service.

For the machine user, there are also several steps needed to build a part. Get the machine on the shop floor, create a part, build the part, check it for quality, and ship it. And this complete concept is the basis for running a smart factory.

In a lot of these steps, Sinumerik One brings great benefits. For example, in machine engineering, people in the offices can engineer the machine. You don’t need to have a test rack next to your desk, and you don’t need to go to the shop floor to test the applications. You can do it all in the virtual world. That’s one perfect example of an Industry 4.0 application that people will get from our Sinumerik One concept.

How do you see digital twins being implemented by customers in Asia?

UR: I see a lot of customers thinking about it. We talk to many customers, including those in Asia. We, for example, are customers of our customers. We have factories ourselves. And we only buy machines where we can get a digital twin beforehand. We make it a prerequisite for purchasing a machine, that it comes with a digital twin. And I believe in future many other users are going to do the same. The benefits are huge. You can train the people, who are going to operate the machine, before the machine is even delivered. And even more, you can also do the run-ins, do the first test of the programs, and know the cycle time of the production, before the machine is delivered.

Does siemens have a benchmark so that when machine users’ data are analysed, they will determine whether they are doing okay or they are falling short?

UR: We offer from our service department a digitalisation check. Together with our customers we examine their factories and give them advise what digitalisation measures are in place to get to another productivity level. It’s a consulting approach not a benchmark.

More and more people are talking about the lights out factory. how are you helping customers go into that level of manufacturing?

UR: Lights out factories are not new. When you go into an automotive factory, for example they produce the same part over and over, it is relatively an automated production. So, what they have done, of course, is to use a CAD/CAM chain, which, out from the design of the piece, create the program to build the piece, download it into the machine, and run it. Of course, this is something we support with our DE portfolio. You can put a program into the machine remotely, and then run it automatically. But of course, it requires in-feed of the materials and taking out the material and the pieces produced. But then again, you need automation, and the complete tool chain and software, like NX for example, or TeamCenter, to have a data backbone for all the production information about the part. But there are other companies focusing on job shops, so they produce many different parts every day according to customer specifications. For them it does not make sense run a fully automated line. So, a lights-out factory for them is not possible.

UMATI - Universal Machine Tool InterfaceOne of the highlights of emo 2019 is umati. How are you supporting this initiative?

UR: We support it 100 percent. We are part of the initiative and helped it to get to the point where we are today. At Siemens our solution to serve a universal interface for machine tools is based on our industrial edge concept. Edge computing is the perfect solution for this. For example, one wants to have a central dashboard, which shows the amount of cooling liquid used per hour. Cooling liquid per hour is not stored as one piece of information in all the machines in the same way. You need to have some sort of programming that knows where that data is stored in the machine and sends it out in a uniform way. Our Siemens industrial edge concept is perfectly suited for this, because OPC-UA is built into our edge devices. This allows the machines to communicate the data provided based on OPC-UA, and the user can program a little piece of code into it to acquire the data out of the machine.

The specifications for umati is still being finalised. during its early development, what were the challenges that you experienced, and are they still a challenge now?

UR: From a technical perspective, it’s not difficult, because it is OPC-UA, and it is a definition of data. It is basically a companion stem based on OPC-UA. The difficult part was to get an agreement among all parties which data they want to support, or which use cases they want to support. Once umati defines which piece of information has to be programmed, it’s done. It’s relatively simple.

 

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Siemens Advances Digital Transformation With Its Advanced Manufacturing Transformation Centre In Singapore

Siemens Advances Digital Transformation With Its Advanced Manufacturing Transformation Centre In Singapore

Siemens will be setting up an Advanced Manufacturing Transformation Centre (AMTC) in the Jurong Innovation District (JID) alongside Bosch Rexroth, ISDN, A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology and the National Metrology Centre. The AMTC will provide guidance and support to manufacturing facilities in ASEAN on their journey of adoption, transition and transformation towards advanced manufacturing. Showcasing Siemens digital enterprise solutions, it enables companies to create a digital twin model in order to simulate and evaluate its operations in a real manufacturing environment.

Furthermore, the AMTC will house its first Additive Manufacturing Experience Center (AMEC) outside of Germany, where companies can experience an advance end-to-end additive manufacturing production line with their technology partners. Companies will be able to carry out prototyping and low volume production with the support of our on-site Additive Manufacturing experts, enabling a smooth transition and transformation to in-house advance manufacturing.

Not only is the AMTC a facility for research and development activities for additive manufacturing, it will also be an advance manufacturing ecosystem with operational production capabilities.

For more information, click here.

 

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Taking Metal To The Cloud

Taking metal to the cloud

Here’s a look at how cloud computing is transforming metalworking. Article by John Young, EU Automation.

Metalworking has played a pivotal role in the evolution of mankind, so much so that there are entire periods of history named after metals. While the Iron and Bronze Ages are behind us, society is framed by a whole other frontier of technology — The Information Age. But can the legacy of metalworking and the evolution of digitalisation work in unison?

Despite its deep-rooted history, metal fabrication remains an essential process in modern manufacturing. Rising urbanisation and industrialisation, burgeoning automotive and aerospace industries and new advancements in metal forming are just some of the many reasons why metalworking faces increased demand and expanding production.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) hits the shop floor, insight into its vast network of communicating machinery is accompanied by an ever-increasing access to the internet. The more machines ‘talk’, the more information they produce and as we enter the dawn of a data-driven era, managing this information is integral to its value.

Up in the Air

Also called ‘The Cloud’, cloud computing refers to software applications that run on remote servers instead of a user’s onsite IT infrastructure. The on-demand computing resource is gaining significant traction across industries that are looking to easily manage and access their data from anywhere in the world.

Regions all over the world are beginning to adopt the technology—and the Asia-Pacific region is no exception to the trend. In fact, the APAC region has been keen to reap the benefits of cloud computing across many of its industries.

Established in 2010, the Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA) represents the stakeholders of Asia’s cloud computing ecosystem and works to accelerate the growth of the technology across the region. According to ACCA’s 2018 Cloud Readiness Index (CRI), Singapore is APAC’s most cloud-ready region and, alongside Hong Kong, is a global leader in cloud readiness. Far ahead of larger economies such as the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States, Singapore represents the APAC region’s swift adoption of the technology.

Blue Skies Beyond

Effective implementation of cloud computing goes beyond connecting your shop floor devices to the sky—it means connecting your shop floor to the rest of the business. With one accurate record on hand, employees, suppliers and partners can all refer to a single source of reliable information to increase consistency.

The innate scalability of cloud computing means that manufacturers can easily accommodate changes and growth to their projects. Resources can be leveraged on a pay-as-you-go or on-demand basis, which gives access to additional assets when required and without the need to invest in an expensive network of internal infrastructure.

Cloud computing can also accommodate product development with ease by facilitating collaboration with engineers and other members of the product development team much earlier in the design process, reducing the time frame from conception to launch.

Pass the Test

Quality often overtakes quantity in metal working, as errors can jeopardise both the function and appearance of products. One hurdle that manufacturers in the metal industry need to overcome is passivity.

Stainless steel doesn’t rust—in theory. Stainless steel is often corrosion resistant, but that doesn’t mean that it is completely impervious to rusting. To combat corrosion, the metal undergoes a treatment process known as passivation, which involves using an acidic solution to remove the free iron from the metal’s surface.

Once the surface iron is removed, the other components of the alloy—namely chromium and nickel—are left behind as a surface layer over the steel. Once these elements react with air, they form a protective oxide layer that prevents the steel from rusting.

More frequently, customers are asking for a passivity guarantee to ensure the quality of their steel. But measuring, verifying and reporting on an invisible layer of protective coating can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. During testing, a section of steel that has undergone the same treatment as the end product is sent for verification from an independent lab.

However, concluding that the results from this sample are the same as those of the finished component is little more than an assumption—leaving manufacturers with little choice but to hope that the product passes the test. What’s more, receiving the test results can take hours, which could delay shipping if correction is required.

Cloud computing can provide a solution. With the help of a wireless tester, smartphone and cloud-based technology, data can be captured and reported from any location. Not only can IoT-enabled remote testing speed up the passivity process, but uploading the results to the cloud means that they can be shared with other departments and customers in an instant.

One surface technology company has already developed a cloud-based solution to streamline passivity testing. Walter Surface Technologies helps machine shops and fabricators leverage IoT technology with its cloud-based passivation app, which allows technicians to chart oxidation levels of stainless steel to measure its passivation state and seamlessly communicate it with the company’s customers.

Maintaining Efficiency

Perhaps one of the best uses of the cloud is as part of asset maintenance. Sensors that collect data on the health of equipment can send this information to the cloud for analysis. There, a streaming data processor transmits the sensor data to storage, otherwise known as a data lake.

The data is still raw at this point, so may contain irrelevant items. To turn the data into insightful information, it is sent to the big data warehouse where it is analysed with machine learning algorithms. These algorithms reveal correlations in datasets and detect any abnormal patterns.

This data collected can then be fed back into planned predictive maintenance (PPM) schemes and remote monitoring of equipment. Unlike reactive maintenance, which involves waiting for a piece of machinery to break, PPM can be used ahead of time to prevent breakdowns and downtime.

For example, a brake press used to bend sheet metal into complex shapes requires accurate control for precise bending. To maintain a high level of product quality, it is crucial that all the machines’ components are in perfect working order.

Let’s say a motor in the brake press is running at an abnormally high temperature. Data in the cloud would be able to flag this abnormality to prompt plant managers to get in touch with a parts supplier such as EU Automation before a breakdown occurs, drastically reducing the amount of associated downtime.

The days of the Bronze Age are long gone—but there’s no questioning that we’re in the golden age of digital manufacturing. Cloud computing boasts several benefits that allow the technology to deliver a scalable and insightful solution to a variety of industries. Metalworking may be one of society’s most ancient processes, but cloud-based solutions can help breathe life into the sector by monitoring its core processes, improving product quality and providing workers with actionable insight to increase efficiency.

 

Check these articles out:

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Martin Winterstein Appointed Chief Sales Officer At Gehring Group

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ITAP 2019: Stay Ahead, Stay Relevant

ITAP 2019: Stay Ahead, Stay Relevant

Stay ahead and relevant with Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC ITAP 2019 – A HANNOVER MESSE event, held from October 22 to 24 at Singapore EXPO & MAX Atria, brings together a growing ecosystem of Industry 4.0 (I4.0) practitioners and connects attendees to all aspects of their I4.0 needs, from learning and networking to problem-solving and retrofitting.

With trade tensions, slowing Chinese economic growth, and an uncertain Eurozone casting a shadow on a strained global economy, there is no better time than now for businesses to progress with transformation efforts and leverage available initiatives to enhance competitiveness through innovation, productivity growth and internationalisation.

ITAP 2019 SMEs in Asia-Pacific will not only hear from thought leaders, but will also be treated to an immersive experience through a showcase of actionable I4.0 solutions for companies looking to future-proof their businesses. Mr. Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, will be the Guest-of-Honour at the event’s Opening Ceremony.

Simon Lim, Executive Director for Manufacturing & Engineering, Enterprise Singapore said, “Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC ITAP 2019 brings together leading manufacturers and solution providers to exchange best practices, discover new technologies and catalyse partnerships in I4.0. Singapore has a strong manufacturing industry, which has enterprises in both manufacturing and the provision of manufacturing expertise and solutions. They are excited to be participating in the event, contributing to the exchange of best practices and technology in the industry. Enterprise Singapore is working closely with these enterprises to facilitate partnerships and support their move towards building smart factories of the future.”

Organised by SingEx Exhibitions and international partner, Deutsche Messe, Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC won the “Best Exhibition Organiser” award at the Singapore Tourism Awards for last year’s edition. The seminal event serves as a catalyst for the development of I4.0 thinking from awareness to driving adoption.

“With the comprehensive personalised learning opportunities provided for attendees, the show will help them – especially beginners and early adopters – find the right fit of I4.0 solutions with their stage of business development. SMEs, in particular, will find a support system where industry players can provide customisable and cost-effective solutions to help them optimise manufacturing processes or reinvent business models that satisfy client demands; and expand into new markets to grow their customer base,” shared Aloysius Arlando, CEO, SingEx Holdings. “We have also developed a digital engagement platform to help companies and practitioners learn, network and collaborate beyond the show.”

“The manufacturing industry today faces very different challenges compared to only a few years ago,” said Dr. Jochen Köckler, CEO, Deutsche Messe AG. “For example, customers want individualised products and same-day delivery at lower prices. In order to remain competitive in the global marketplace, companies need to embrace digitalisation. Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC brings together users and providers of all sizes to actively shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Singapore and the surrounding region.”

An immersive learning journey

Designed as a personalised learning journey with LIVE demonstrations, the “Gateway to Industry 4.0” is a curated gallery powered by TÜV SÜD on the evolution of I4.0. It aims to inspire delegates on how to implement I4.0 concepts by contrasting old-technology exhibits versus the new, showcasing the transformation and outcomes of practical applications demonstrating real benefits. Two new areas of interest are:

  • Collaboration Lab – Co-creation and demonstration areas for solution providers and manufacturers to discuss test-bedding and retrofitting solutions for a stepped approach towards progressive adoption of I4.0.
  • Robotics Experimental Zone – Future Lab featuring an innovative robotics display and interactive exhibits. Deepen the understanding on robotics application via talks, presentation sessions and workshops, and ideal for System Integrators, Product companies, Roboticist & Technologists, Procurement Engineers, I4.0 solution providers, Regional Robotics and automation stakeholders.

Other curated platforms that have been added to maintain momentum for I4.0 learning include: Over 60 Sandbox sessions providing practical learnings based on industry-specific challenges; a Research and Technology Zone to activate business collaborations through open innovations with technology providers and seekers; over 100 Guided Tours with 8 tracks covering 12 industries; and island-wide Technical Tours to leading R&D centres.

 

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One Technology—Many Benefits

One Technology—Many Benefits

Here’s a look at punching technology innovations and and the benefits like helping manufacturers toward their Industry 4.0 journey. Article by Trumpf.

Punching encompasses far more than just making holes in sheets. You can manufacture complete parts on a punching machine. Reshaping processes open up new dimensions for you. The versatility of the technology is the result of the wealth of tools used. With appropriate loading and unloading aids, you can even automate your production.

Monotool Punching Head Principle & Rotating Tools

The monotool punching head principle means that different tools can be exchanged into the punching head, and all of them can be rotated 360 deg.

It offers higher process reliability as the punches are always connected to the punching head in a form locking manner. Not only does it perfectly guide the tools down onto the sheet metal, it also guides them off the sheet metal in a controlled manner after the punching process.

Its reduced setup outlay provides easier handling. Tools can be used for multiple applications due to their rotational ability, resulting in fewer tool change and setup operations.

And fewer punching tools mean lower costs. Imagine the ability to create an oblong hole with every conceivable orientation in the sheet metal—with just one tool! This is really easy if the punching head is 360 deg rotatable, this works with all contours that you have a tool for, regardless of whether it is a standard or special tool. The ability of all your tools to rotate multiplies your processing options and reduces your tool requirements, and therefore your costs.

Tooling for Punching

With the increasing complexity of market requirements, sophisticated components can no longer be solved with standard tools. The need for manufacturing highly complex components in shorter amount of time require special tools, and using the right tooling is the prerequisite for successful punching.

For punching, there exists different tooling options. The Classic punching tool system is the leading tool system for punching machines. Due to the broad range of forms, shears, coatings, and accessories, you can use it with flexibility.

Another tooling option is the MultiTool, which integrates up to 10 different punching and die inserts in one tool adapter, increasing flexibility, efficiency, and productivity as different punching operations can be carried out by one tool. Additionally, forming and embossing can be carried out. Another benefit is the reduction of non-productive times due to reduced setup and tool change times.

Scratch Free Processing

When it comes to punching, the end result heavily depends on the right process, and it is crucial that the products are scratch free at the end of the process.

The basis for scratch-free processing is the use of brush tables, which provide soft support to the sheet and thereby preventing scratches and reduces noise. During positioning, the sheet slides over the brushes, which, due to their length, bend in the direction of movement.

Also, through raising brush field and support plates around dies, the contact between sheet and die will be reduced, leading to less scratches during the punching and forming.

  1. Solutions for punching-tools

Adhesive pads are pre-formed, self-stick polyethylene film and can be attached to dies, strippers and intermediate rings to prevent scratches on the workpiece. To avoid imprints and scratches on the sheet surface, a specially coated stripper can be used. The coating is also is wear-resistant and keeps material abrasion chips from sticking to it.

  1. Special die solutions

To reduce scratches for intermediate rings and dies, brushes or Ampco can be used. Ampco is a soft alloy that avoids scratches on the bottom of the sheet because of its softness and lubricant effect. Another option are descending dies that, by moving downwards during the positioning of the sheet, eliminate the contact of metal between workpiece and processing station. Active dies additionally operate a second punching head able to perform an active forming stroke from below, broadening the rage of processing strategies and tool usage and enabling new forming sizes and heights.

  1. Gentle material handling through intelligent automation

By using different automation solutions, scratches can be easily prevented before and after production. A conveyor belt with soft surface, where finished parts are ejected from the punching machine, ensures gentle handling.

Loading, unloading, stacking can be automated as well and by using a vacuum technology during these steps, scratches during part pick up, transport and deposit can be eliminated.

Skeleton free processing

Material usage optimisation not only boosts your production but also helps you save a lot. By implementing skeleton free processing, companies can increase their sheet utilization by 10 percent on average—thereby reducing material costs. Additionally, smaller bits of residual material simplify logistics and yield higher scrap prices.

Another advantage is the enhanced process-reliability achieved through the safe unloading of finished parts and small parts even when the part chute is open and through the automatic cut up and removal of residual pieces of sheet metal. Working without a scar skeleton also increases safety and is operator friendly.

Residual pieces of sheet metal can be sorted by material, and good parts and scrap are sorted to different containers. Other benefits of implementing skeleton free processing are savings in operational time by 14 percent on average, and the energy needed for the process itself: operating a punching machine instead of manufacturing a metal sheet consumes about 30-80 times less power, which in turn leads to energy savings equal to the power needed to operate a punching machine for 40 years.

Simultaneously, companies increase output rate through smaller workpieces and enhance their production, hence, significantly boosting their return on investment.

Programming

The software used to execute punching operations has a great impact on success and efficiency. Technology offers many different processing options and the right software should support users to make use of all these possibilities.

A good software should simplify the nestling process and thereby optimize material utilization and save costs. It should also reduce the effort required to generate the NC program for example by applying automatic repositioning and trimming. Choosing a software that has the option for offline programming can reduce machine down time as programmer can prepare the next programs already while the machine is running.

Additionally, settings can be predefined and adjusted to the specific needs of the company. If Industry 4.0 is a topic for your company, a software with the ability to automate processes and integrate systems to make use of Internet of Things (IoT) should be chosen.

Automation for Punching Machines

Automation can save costs and boost production, but it has to be reliable and safe to do so.

Automation can be applied to the loading of raw sheets or blanks and or pre-cut parts and the consequent unloading of finished parts, micro-joint sheets and scrap skeletons. Also, disposal of scrap skeletons and remainder strips and sorting of small parts and punching slugs can be automated with the right machinery.

There are plenty of benefits that automation in punching operation offers, for example, the increase in productivity due to high machine utilization, and reduced factory lead times. Additionally, automation increases process reliability, enhances efficiency, and improves safety during the punching process.

Automated systems typically perform the manufacturing process with less variability than human workers, resulting in greater control and consistency of product quality

Integrated tool management

Automation can come into play even before the punching process is carried out. Before punching, suitable tools have to be selected and set up in the machine. Tool availability, proper assembly and accuracy of tool data in the machine control have to be checked, which is all very time consuming.

With integrated tool management, these steps can be automated—reducing search and setup times. The central data management makes data available anytime, anywhere, and enables direct data transfer between machines.

Tool management automation also increases efficiency of inventory management, productivity and process reliability, as the tools and tool lengths and changes are recorded, while the punch-stripper and die combinations and tool suitability are checked by the system automatically.

The Future of Punching

Punching technology has continuously developed in the last few years, and high-quality punching tools now do not leave any punching burr. Set up, sorting and removal is easier than ever before.

The demand for customer’s quality requirements is increasing, while the batch sizes are decreasing. It is therefore important to make precise calculations, but this is not exactly easy when a part is manufactured on several machines. The solution? Combining two technologies: punching and laser cutting into a single machine. And the benefits are below:

  1. A combination that pays off

The punching head reaches standard contours and formings, while the laser cuts more complex contours, allowing you to produce a wide range of parts and even complete challenging orders on a single machine.

  1. Lean logistics: Gain freedom

Integrate cutting, punching and forming processes on a single machine will reduce your calculation risk and the floor space required. Reduced waiting times and workflows such as setup and handling allow you to make multiple savings.

  1. Combined processing: Best quality

Combining fits or forming with laser cutting not only reduces the waste you produce but allows you to manufacture high-precision components in a quality that was not possible to achieve when processing on several machines.

  1. Short process chain: Simple logistics

With the right automation, your machine handles all parts automatically—loading, producing, sorting, stacking, unloading, and storing. There are virtually no limits to its loading and unloading capacity, therefore your machine works around the clock as needed.

 

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TRUMPF Discusses Opportunities For Growth In Vietnam

TRUMPF Discusses Opportunities For Growth In Vietnam

At the recent MTA Vietnam 2019 trade show in Ho Chi Minh City, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) spoke with Patrick Kemnitz, General Director of TRUMPF Vietnam and Head of Business Development for Southeast Asia, and Edward Yuen, General Manager for Singapore and Vietnam, about the trends shaping the metalworking industry in the region, challenges and opportunities for growth. They also provided their insights on where the Southeast Asian market is headed in the next years.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE YOU SEEING IN VIETNAM?

Patrick Kemnitz (PK): Vietnam is a strong and steadily growing market, with a GDP of around five to seven percent. Vietnamese companies have been getting more and more jobs from foreign markets, especially with the ongoing trade war between the United States and China.

This is the current situation. But in the long run, we see huge potential in the Vietnamese market. Its huge population of labour entering the workforce is also a very high potential for growth.

In almost all industries where sheet metal products are needed, such as furniture, elevators, construction, automotive, bicycle, there is an opportunity for doing these metal products locally instead of importing them. So, the increasing localisation of all the industries is a very high potential for businesses.

Edward Yuen (EY): The market now is driven by infrastructure development. You see a lot of construction happening all over Vietnam. Tall buildings, highways, bridges are built—for all these infrastructures, sheet metal works are required. Also due to the tariff issue between China and the United States, you will see a lot of these industries basically restructuring their businesses instead of putting all their eggs in one basket, and some of the international companies investing strongly in Vietnam.

ARE YOU SEEING ANY CHALLENGES IN THE MARKET?

PK: For our customers, one of their challenges is having skilled workforce for their factories.

Therefore, education needs to be tackled: Vietnam needs to have the right education on future technologies. In line with this, we are working with educational organizations like universities and technical colleges to support them with technical input from the industry as investing in people is important for future growth of the whole country.

There are other issues, but I think the opportunities are bigger than these challenges. There is also the opportunity brought by Industry 4.0 and smart factory. This is our theme in this exhibition, ‘Your Smart Factory’, which is about how we can help our customers make the first steps in the direction of a connected production process and to provide all the advantages of having a smart factory. This is really a process that will require a step by step approach. And now is the time for our customers and the industry in Vietnam, because many new factories are being set up here. They are not just expanding their existing factories, but also building new ones. If you have these greenfield projects, you have the opportunity to plan really well from scratch.

HOW IS TRUMPF ADDRESSING THE WIDE SPECTRUM OF MANUFACTURING LEVELS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA?

PK: We established our product portfolio in such a way that we have a solution for customers from all levels. For instance, our entry level machines are strategically positioned to help customers grow their manufacturing process. We also have machines which allows our customers to upgrade into a combination machine to extend their production. And on the very high-end sector we offer fully automated machines and storage systems.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE INDUSTRY DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT THREE TO FIVE YEARS?

PK: Three to five years in Vietnam, or maybe Southeast Asia in general, is a long horizon. At the moment we mainly still have a positive outlook for the economy. Of course, there are signs that the global economy is slowing down, especially in the machinery industry, but so far these still might be part of the cyclical developments over time. Here in Vietnam, there is positive development. Mostly, all the industries that are relevant for sheet metal production are growing, so we are quite positive for our customers, that they can develop their business in a very positive way as there is still a lot of space to grow. In this environment, we consider TRUMPF as an enabler of this growth.

EY: For Southeast Asia, I think there are good prospects for the next three to five years. The continuing trade war between the United States and China which is not going to end soon are driving a lot of companies to move to Southeast Asia. Whatever products that you are now manufacturing in China and if you have to export it to the USA, you want to avoid getting entangle into this tariff game. Now we see lots of job-shops in Vietnam are loading up with jobs that are shifted over from plants in China. Going forward I believe more manufacturing companies in China will slow their expansion there and instead build up their expansion in SEA instead. In a way you don’t want to put all your eggs into one basket. The other impetus, the cost of manufacturing in those big northern Asian countries are not getting any cheaper and it only makes sense to capitalise on the cheaper labour force; huge available cheaper land and better infrastructure of SEA to grow a business.

 

Check out these articles:

AMendate Acquisition Helps Hexagon Minimise Time-to-Print for Additive Manufacturing

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The Role Of IoT Technology In The Metal Fabricating Industry

The Role of IoT Technology in the Metal Fabricating Industry

Ultimately, the metalworking industry needs differentiation and tools to help stakeholders to level up their products and services for customers. Here’s how. Article by Helen Masters, INFOR.

Singapore’s government, led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has in recent years identified four technology sectors that Singapore needs to build on; one of which is Internet of Things (IoT). For a small country with a population of just 5.64 million, Singapore has truly transformed itself into a hotbed for technology and innovation, becoming a magnet for foreign companies with regional headquarters and being an example for the rest of Southeast Asia.

With IoT technology, metal fabrication companies based in Singapore are in a position to once again lead the rest of the region with value-add to customers and streamline processes. But will adding condition-tracking sensors to equipment be enough? Is IoT technology the cure-all for tight margins, escalating customer demands, volatile pricing, and aggressive competition? Well, that depends.

The Background in a Snapshot

IoT has been generating buzz that spikes then ebbs, like the tides. Grandiose projections for potential economic impact create optimistic swells. Media pundits herald IoT technology as the key driver behind waves of digitalization. But, then, mixed feedback pops up. Some early adopters realize their tidal waves of data need to be aggregated and analyzed further in order to have practical applications. Data overload is a common issue to resolve.

As more and more projects move through proof-of-concept stages, it becomes clear that deploying an IoT plan is not as simple as flipping a switch. Often, several solutions are required in order to achieve the specific results desired. There is, though, one factor common to all successful initiatives: a foundational strategy and plan for data consumption must be in place to avoid data overload. Analytics with built-in artificial intelligence (AI) separates programs with marginal results from ones with game-changing, differentiating outcomes.

How Do Metal Fabricators Avoid Common Mistakes?

When designing programs to leverage IoT technologies, metal fabricators should focus on applications which will bring measurable impact on the bottom line. Because of the industry’s ultra-thin margins, any tactic which helps to control costs and boost productivity will be of value. Those incremental gains, though, may not be enough to be true attention-getters for customers.

Fabricators wanting to differentiate their business from the onslaught of competitors will need to aim for bigger, better, more unique gains in order to impress the highly demanding B2B customer.

Five Tips for Achieving Differentiation Through IoT

  1. Offer Servitisation. If you are a fabricator of industrial components or equipment, offering a product as a service is one of the most dramatic ways to use IoT technology. Thanks to data generated from sensors, you can monitor customer inventory levels at their location, consumption rates of your products, project needed demand, and provide a continuous as-needed supply. This service will help your customers optimize their inventory levels while building a relationship of trust.
  2. Productise Data. Data generated from sensors provides valuable insight about the way in which components are functioning in the field, how assets are performing, ways to improve field conditions, and lifecycle phases of fabricated parts and components. This data can be packaged and offered to customers. It can be a value-add service or a new revenue stream.
  3. Engage Customers. IoT technology can be used to capture and share insights with customers. IoT connectivity and sensor-generated data up-levels the ability to collaborate on component design, test results, and co-monitor fabricated parts through test stages. Even though you may be miles or continents away from you customer, the ability to collect, aggregate, analyze and share condition-based data from anywhere, brings you closer to your customers– when and where they are making decisions.
  4. Manage Volatility. IoT technology can help you monitor the location of delivery trucks, service fleets, shipments of raw materials, and inventory levels in your warehouse—or your customers. Fast changing stock conditions can be monitored in real-time, so timely decisions can be made about shifting inventory between warehouses or re-routing trucks as needed. This agility can be a marketable differentiator.
  5. Extend Asset Lifecycle. Sensors embedded in shop floor assets can be used to collect data about the physical condition of assets, like temperature and vibration, monitoring for early warning signs of maintenance requirements. Staying proactive and maintaining high-value assets properly can enable companies to extend their lifecycle, eliminate unplanned downtime, and improve productivity. This can ultimately improve the accuracy of capacity planning, on-time delivery to customers, and cashflow.

Getting Started

Each of these differentiating tips requires advanced IoT software, including cloud computing, a data lake for aggregating and storing large volumes of data, and analytics for drawing consumable insights from the data. Solutions need to tightly integrate and adhere to modern security protocols. Working with a solution provider or deployment consultant will help you leverage the benefits of experience.

As IoT technology is still relatively new, your internal IT teams will appreciate the help of professionals who are familiar with the complexities of IoT deployment. These experts can help you avoid common pitfalls and overcome any possible roadblocks that arise.

Ultimately, metal fabricators need differentiation and tools to help them level-up their products and service for customers. IoT technology can provide important abilities and help you leverage technology for insight.

But, to truly be effective and reap differentiating-level benefits, metal fabricators need to go beyond the basics. Involve experts to help plan the strategy. Set goals using advanced applications, such as the five listed here, to stand out from the competition. Most importantly, get started now.

 

Check out there articles:

Importance Of Process Control

Smart Data in the Metalworking Industry

Increasing Productivity And Quality Gains Through Digitalisation

Predictive Maintenance and Machine Learning Will Revolutionise Reliability

Adapting Cutting Tools To Changing Trends

 

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