As we move into a new decade, what will 2020 mean for automation? John Young, APAC director at EU Automation, takes a look at the trends set to shape automation in the year ahead.
Over 20 years since Kevin Ashton coined the phrase ‘the Internet of Things’ (IoT), the manufacturing industry continues to develop ‘humanity’s nervous system’. Buoyed by a fast-growing economy, the tech-savvy Asia-Pacific (APAC) region has already paved the way for adopting innovations such as 5G and robotic process automation (RPA).
In fact, South Korea was the first market globally to launch commercial 5G, while a report by PWC reveals that APAC’s RPA market is expected to grow 203 per cent by 2021. So, where could automation take the region in 2020?
The Environmental Factor
If the past decade has taught us anything, it’s that we need to act fast if we’re going to protect our planet. The 2010s will go down as the hottest decade in history, with seven of our planet’s ten hottest years ever recorded taking place over the past ten years. But as our landscapes have transformed, so too must our attitudes towards consumption — an area where the manufacturing industry holds great responsibility.
Currently, most facilities work following a linear model of make, use and dispose. This creates a lot of waste, as products have just one lifecycle, and leftover energy and materials are left to waste. A circular model allows manufacturers to keep everything in the supply chain in operation for as long as possible, including the goods they produce and the resources used to create them. For example, manufacturers can look at redirecting unused materials, such as wastewater from washing vegetables in a food manufacturing plant, for other tasks such as equipment washdowns.
As well as looking towards the future, manufacturers should also focus on their existing equipment in 2020. If a piece of equipment was to break down or experience wear and tear, manufacturers will be able to benefit the environment, their production line and their pockets by sourcing new parts from a reliable supplier, rather than getting rid of the entire machine.
Even More Autonomous
Back in 2016, MIT spin-off technology startup, NuTononmy, launched its robo-taxi driverless car service in Singapore. While many autonomous vehicle services remain in trial stages, there are a number of areas of automation that are beginning to step away from human control.
Collaborative robots, or cobots, took the robotics market by storm during the 2010s. Enabling human and robot workers to complement each other and carry out tasks in harmony, cobots relieve the workforce from manual, straining tasks without detracting from their own skillset. While cobots will continue to be a rising trend over the next decade, so too will automation with even greater autonomy.
Autonomous things can include drones, robots, ships and appliances, which exploit artificial intelligence (AI) to carry out tasks in place of humans. Currently, autonomous technologies are mainly confined to controlled environments, such as ‘lights out’ factories. In these environments, autonomous machinery performs continuously with minimal human intervention. Robots are capable of carrying out a number of tasks, from picking and packing to even building fellow robots.
However, the presence of autonomous technology will continue to evolve in the public realm, as well as increasing on the shop floor. As AI allows automation to deliver behaviours that act more naturally with people, we can also expect to see more of autonomous technology in public spaces, just like NuTonomy’s taxi service.
Believe the Hype
While automating tasks that were once carried out by human workers has been a growing trend for a number of years, it’s set to experience a renaissance. One of Gartner’s top strategic technology trends for 2020 is hyper-automation, which takes automated processes to the next level.
Hyper-automation encompasses the totality of a business’s automation network under a single umbrella, meaning that not one, but many, automated technologies work in congruence to augment or replace human capabilities. These technologies could include RPA, AI, machine learning and business management software, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), which all work in sync to deliver a single solution. This approach refers to all the steps of automation, including the discovery, analysis design, automation, measurement, monitoring and reassessment.
The trend may have been kicked off with RPA, but Gartner states that RPA alone is not hyper-automation. While no single tool can replace human workers, hyper-automation’s belt of tools will allow better visualization of how key functions, processes and performance indicators interact to create business value.
As snappy social media videos and super speedy internet connections look set to dominate 2020, automation will also evolve. With environmental concerns at the top of many business’ agendas, it’s certain that material handling, asset management and maintenance will need to adapt. As automation continues to get smarter and technologies work closer together, we can also expect the evolution of a connected, hyper-automated production line to be on the cards for the future.
Solutions for suppliers seeking ways to meet new productivity challenges, including increasing demand and shorter lead times. Article by Michael Palmieri, Makino.
Aerospace and defence (A&D) suppliers are feeling the heat.
Over the next five years, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are expected to increase commercial aircraft production by 21 percent. The ramp-up means suppliers face unprecedented challenges. They must find ways to satisfy demand for more components while OEMs place more pressure on them to decrease lead times and prices.
Industry 4.0 technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), automation and advanced machine-tool capabilities, such as 5-axis machining centres, could become more common on A&D shop floors as suppliers seek ways to keep pace with OEM demands.
These technologies can help the A&D suppliers respond to market needs faster without expanding their workforce. This white paper will explore some of these trends and the solutions that A&D suppliers need to remain competitive.
Enable Faster Throughput for Complex Designs
Modern aircraft designs are forcing suppliers to rethink their current production capabilities. Older machine tools may not be equipped to manage lighter-weight, heat-resistant materials, such as titanium. Modern machining centres that are purpose-built for aerospace applications can reduce set-up times, increase accuracy and improve throughput on less-conventional designs.
Titanium vs. Aluminium Considerations
Aluminium makes up about half of the aerospace materials market by volume. But titanium use is increasing as manufacturers seek ways to reduce weight for components in next-generation planes. Titanium is lighter than structural steels historically used and almost as strong. Aluminium and titanium present different challenges that manufacturers must take into consideration when selecting machine-tooling solutions. Aluminium requires more horsepower and high rpm while titanium requires high torque at low rpm.
Suppliers need access to a variety of machine tools that can perform fast removal rates on a wide range of materials, including aluminium, stainless steel and titanium. Several key advancements in machine tooling are helping A&D suppliers address different material requirements. Some of the key technologies developed to increase productivity for titanium machining include:
Autonomic spindles that protect the spindle from excessive forces damaging the bearings. This can reduce unplanned downtime related to machine damage—which, in turn, optimizes productivity.
High-pressure, high-flow coolant systems deliver large volumes of coolant directly to the cutting zone for faster chip evacuation, increased production, and tool life.
Vibration damping systems that adjust frictional forces based on low-frequency vibration sensing, avoiding chatter and cutter damage from structure resonance in real time. Vibration damping enhances depth of cuts, which results in higher removal rates.
Developments in aluminium machining are also helping A&D suppliers increase productivity. This includes greater spindle power to improve processing speeds, improvements to acceleration and cutting feed rates, and large-capacity automatic tool changers that are capable of holding more than 100 tools and automatic pallet changer—which can reduce changeover and set-up times significantly.
In both aluminium and titanium, 5-axis capability is a key advantage by providing an efficient way to produce typical, complex, A&D part geometries. In addition, large-capacity tool changers and pallet changing automation can allow for unattended machining, which means less operator labour cost per part. These system features reduce machine downtime between parts and part handling between set-ups, which also lowers labour costs. The ability to reduce handling time, including moving parts from machine to machine or resetting them on new fixtures, also helps increase throughput and shrink production lead times to enable faster deliveries.
Maximise Productivity to Avoid Costly Delays
Many A&D suppliers are struggling to meet demand. For instance, in November 2018 Boeing reported decreases in 737 deliveries due to supplier delays. The lead time in A&D manufacturing is already longer compared to other industries, which means suppliers can’t afford machine failures or any other issues that could result in downtime. Suppliers may need to place a greater emphasis on predictive maintenance and automation to maximise productivity.
Why Reliability Matters
On-time delivery issues are urgent enough that Boeing and Airbus are working with suppliers to ensure they’re equipped to meet expectations. In addition, unplanned downtime costs manufacturers about $50 billion annually, and equipment failure is the cause of downtime 42 percent of the time.
Manufacturers are implementing automation and Industry 4.0 technologies to gain visibility into machine performance issues before they lead to major repairs or failures. In the A&D sector, Industry 4.0 is bringing predictive insights to operators and technicians in several ways, including:
The ability to access charts that display alarm events, so operators and technicians can observe trends and implement corrective measures.
Access to spindle and axis monitoring technologies that record and display axis forces, loads and speeds. This data can then be used to fine-tune processes for faster cutting speeds and greater depths of cut. In addition, manufacturers can monitor critical tool data for multiple machines from one centralised location. Operators can use this data to make adjustments for enhanced tool performance and lifespan.
Camera monitoring capabilities that capture an internal view of a machine’s work zone, making it easier to solve processing errors before they impact part quality. Technicians also can receive email and text notifications of alarms, including images of the work zone. This helps service staff immediately address maintenance issues before they become costly problems.
According to Deloitte, manufacturers that implement predictive maintenance technologies typically experience operations and MRO material cost savings of 5 percent to 10 percent, reduced inventory carrying costs, equipment uptime and availability increases of 10 percent to 20 percent, reduced maintenance planning time of 20 percent to 50 percent and overall maintenance cost reductions of five percent to ten percent.
A&D suppliers also are realising enhanced performance through automated machining solutions, such as pallet-stacking systems. The Makino Machining Complex (MMC2) is an automated material handling system that links Makino horizontal machining centres, pallet loaders and operators. The system provides a constant flow of parts to the machining centres, so it can operate for extended periods unattended, including overnight and on weekends. The ability to automate manual processes reduces the need for time-consuming manual tasks and increases flexibility to meet OEM demands.
Bridging the Workforce Skills Gap
As machine tools become more technologically advanced, the A&D industry must confront another persistent challenge: the lack of skilled workers. In a recent industry workforce survey, 75 percent of respondents said they are concerned with the availability of key skills. “The need for talent will become even more critical in the next few years, as the baby boom generation moves beyond traditional retirement age – and the unavoidable loss at some point of their expertise and knowledge,” according to Aviation Week’s “2018 Workforce Report.” Machines that are equipped with IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and other smart capabilities can enhance productivity for existing employees and minimise the learning curve for new hires.
The Case for a Connected Workforce
Voice-assistant technology common in the consumer world, such as Alexa and Siri, are now making their way into modern machine tools. In fact, more than 80 percent of A&D industry executives say they expect their workforce to be directly impacted by an AI-based decision within the next three years, according to an Accenture report. Voice-activated commands reduce manual interaction with the machine and helps operators translate and analyse big data. These digital assistants typically work through the use of headsets. Operators speak commands into the headsets, such as “turn the machine’s lights on,” “change tools,” or “show set-up instructions.” These voice-actuated capabilities simplify machine operation by reducing the time operators spend searching for information or performing manual tasks.
AI also serves as a coach for operators who may not be familiar with various operating procedures, such as how to perform different maintenance tasks. For example, a worker can ask the voice assistant how to change a filter. In many cases, these intelligent machines are not replacing operators but helping the existing workforce perform their tasks more efficiently.
They’re also allowing workers to move easily from one type of machine to another without a significant learning curve because they’re not reliant on an unfamiliar machine interface. These intelligent machines may help A&D manufacturers identify and onboard skilled workers with greater ease because they require less training and experience than more traditional technology.
Looking Ahead: What’s Next for A&D Machining
High-tech machining solutions are advancing at a rapid pace. The availability of new technologies comes at a critical point for the A&D industry. Suppliers must continue to improve productivity and reduce costs amid a constantly changing environment. In addition to OEM demands, the industry faces new competitive challenges, including potential price increases for materials. For instance, A&D manufacturers are still uncertain how U.S. tariffs on aluminium and steel imports could impact prices. The potential for higher material prices puts additional pressure on suppliers as they try to meet increasing demands for lower costs per part and delivery.
Suppliers need equipment that can reduce downtime, increase productivity and minimise labour costs. Manufacturers should consider machine-tool providers with a broad portfolio of equipment built specifically for the aerospace industry. The latest machining centres can perform high-precision tasks faster than ever. Vendors with experience in the aerospace industry can help A&D suppliers evaluate their needs and select a solution that is appropriate for specific applications. Makino is continuously updating its machines with the latest technologies, including automation and IoT capabilities, to help the industry produce accurate structural and turbo machinery parts faster with less variability and at the lowest cost.
How ATEP Slashes Titanium Machining Costs
Arconic Titanium & Engineered Products (ATEP) in Laval, Quebec, Canada, needed titanium-machining solutions to meet customer demands to lower costs and shrink delivery times. ATEP specializes in assembly and precision machining of various titanium aircraft components, including wing attachments, seat tracks and doorframes. Standard machine platforms couldn’t provide the rigidity, flexibility or control the company needed to meet its customer requirements. The company decided to install several Makino T-Series 5-axis horizontal titanium machining centres. Research engineers from ATEP determined the machines could help the company perform certain production processes three times faster than previous methods. It eventually led to a 60 percent reduction in cycle times and 30 percent reduction of tool costs.
The company also has realized benefits related to quality improvements. ATEP is a fully integrated supplier of titanium and other specialty metals products. ATEP is receiving additional business from customers who are asking the company to correct quality issues from other suppliers, according to a company executive.
Experts in manufacturing and communication technologies discuss how 5G networks help drive digital transformation within the manufacturing sector.
Join Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division and Ericsson on 16 April 2020 for a webinaron how 5G will support Industry 4.0 deployments.
Sachin Mathur, Head of Partnership Programs, Smart Factory, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division, Erik Josefsson, Vice President, Head of Advanced Industries, Ericsson and Sasidhar Yalavarthi, Project Manager, Smart Factory, Ericsson, will discuss how 5G wireless networks facilitate greater automation and data-driven decision-making in the manufacturing sector. The event will be moderated by Brett Brune, Editor in Chief of Smart Manufacturing magazine.
Ignacio Blanco, Product Marketing Manager, Smart Factory Solutions Hexagon, says: “Hexagon and Ericsson are partnering to make manufacturing smarter by simplifying the capture, transfer and use of data with reliable, low-latency, high-bandwidth wireless networks. As a result, manufacturers will be able to connect multiple machines, sensors and systems across even the largest sites in a way that suits their individual productivity needs.”
The webinar will be sponsored by Digital Engineering, a leading German-language construction and engineering trade magazine; Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), one of the most authoritative metalworking magazines in the region; Smart Manufacturing, a principal industry voice in the United States and The Manufacturer, a major UK publication that provides news and promotes best practice in the manufacturing industry.
5G and Industry 4.0 in a nutshell
Smart Wireless Manufacturing
Strategic business-driven decisions
IoT and Industry connectivity
Register to join the webinar on 16 April 2020 at a choice of different times.
For many firms, the outbreak of COVID-19 has meant staff working from home and more use of teleconferencing rather than face to face meetings. However, it’s a different situation for manufacturers because, despite investments in automation, reducing the need for staff on assembly lines, they still need to receive raw materials. The impact of Coronavirus is both global and unpredictable, and the supply chain shock it is causing will most definitely and substantially cut into the worldwide manufacturing revenue of US$15 trillion currently forecasted for 2020 by global tech market advisory firm,ABI Research.
The virus will have both short- and long-term ramifications for manufacturers. “Initially, plant managers and factory owners will be looking to secure supplies and be getting an appreciation of constraints further up the supply chain plus how much influence they have on their suppliers,” explains Michael Larner, Principal Analyst at ABI Research.
In the longer term, manufacturers will need to conduct an extensive due diligence process as they need to understand their risk exposure, including the operations of their supplier’s suppliers too. “To mitigate supply chain risks, manufacturers should not only not source components from a single supplier but also, as COVID-19 has highlighted, shouldn’t source from suppliers in a single location,” Larner advises.
In software applications in the manufacturing setting, ABI Research forecasts that the supply chain impact of Covid-19 will spur manufacturer’s spend on enterprise resource planning (ERP) to reach US$14 billion in 2024. While many ERP platforms include modules for inventory control and supply chain management, in light of the outbreak, many manufacturers will also turn to specialist providers. Larner adds, “Supply chain orchestration requires software to be more than a system of record and provide risk analysis and run simulations, enabling manufacturers to understand and prepare for supply chain shocks.”
Industry 4.0 has received much attention; however, the focus has been on the activities inside the factory gates. “But investments in robotics or IoT sensors and the like assume that assembly lines receive a steady flow of raw materials. COVID-19 demonstrates that manufacturers need to be as focused on their supplier’s capabilities as they are on their factory floor,” Larner concludes.
The growing purchasing power of middle-class consumers in Asia has led to an increase in spending on consumer goods. In a rush to meet the escalating demand, manufacturers catering to the APAC region are investing in new production plants and machines, creating a requirement for machine tools in the process. An analysis by Frost & Sullivan reveals that this requirement will push the Asia-Pacific machine tool market to grow at a CAGR of 2.2 percent from 2018 to 2023, reaching $10.5 billion in revenue.
Frost & Sullivan’s latest research, Asia-Pacific Machine Tool Market, Forecast to 2023, explores the trends and factors influencing the machine tools industry in the Asia-Pacific region and provides a thorough analysis of the current market scenario. The report examines the key market drivers and restraints and presents detailed market share analyses and revenue forecasts through the year 2023. The research also offers strategic recommendations to leverage the growth opportunities identified in this sector.“Business expansion strategies and plant localisation of end-user industries are set to drive the growth of the machine tool industry in the APAC region,” said Divya Saiprasad, Principal Consultant, Industrials at Frost & Sullivan. “The rise in demand for machine tools can be attributed to the increase in the production of auto components and growth of the automotive industry.”
Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are expected to remain the top three markets for machine tools in the region in 2023, contributing 69.5 percent. Additionally, emerging economies such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand are anticipated to showcase strong growth over the next three years, driven by foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow in the manufacturing sector.
“On the end-user vertical front, engineering and automotive sectors are projected to remain dominant,” noted Saiprasad. “The aviation sector is also expected to further supplement the market for machine tools, given the demand from the burgeoning upper-middle-class population.”
Machine tool vendors can tap into further growth by:
Integrating new features and technologies into additive manufacturing to increase the overall efficiency of multi-tasking machine tools.
Including new technologies such as IoT and Big Data for preventive and predictive maintenance of machines to help machine tool companies enhance their customers’ rate of operations in manufacturing, thereby increasing their brand recognition in the market.
Developing and selling smart machines equipped with AI, robots, and software technologies to expand sales and improve the productivity of customers in ASEAN countries.
Increasing production efficiency, shortening delivery times, and maintaining price competitiveness to increase sales and improve market profitability.
Expanding sales, distribution, and aftermarket service channels in emerging Asian countries to retain customers.
Considering shifting your manufacturing into the cloud? Read the practical steps from Naveen Nadesan, ANCA Motion Global Marketing Manager, to make the most of the move.
Connectivity with the world is now something we take for granted in our everyday lives. We no longer need to be in the office to check emails, receive calls or even access our files. We can be anywhere in the world and, thanks to the cloud and mobile technology, still be connected. It’s a world of digital transformation that now applies to CNC machines.
New cloud-based management software, along with the Internet of Things – that is the networking of machines that send and receive data – are helping us design, test and produce parts no matter where we are, or where our facilities are. Pooling of live data in t he cloud means we can now optimise our processes in real time, even from the other side of the world.
Here are five ways the cloud will enhance CNC machines.
1. The cloud improves CNC machine productivity
“We need more of it and faster.” Ever heard that one? Cloud-based management of CNC machines can improve productivity through the removal of complex workflows, reduced costs for installation and manufacturing and the big one… automation.
Think also of the productivity gains that are possible when operation staff can access information and collaborate remotely as well as make updates in real time from multiple locations.
Automation on machines also means you can reduce the cost of doing business as manufacturers can run part batches ‘lights out’. This means that no matter where in the world you can be competitive – even in traditionally higher cost labour regions.
Cloud-based management of your machines gives you the ability to monitor them and production in real time and make faster, informed decisions about your capabilities.
This greater visibility provides insight into your supply chain and usage patterns including production levels, inventory, available capacity, quality levels and order status – without delay. This in turn will help you manage customer expectations around delivery.
3. Less downtime for more business continuity
How much time did you lose last year to unplanned machine downtime? CNC machines that are connected to the cloud provide constant data about their health and productivity. Sharing this information across the business can help identify production problems, including root causes, and also help predict machine failures before they happen.
The cloud is also your secure, offsite data backup. If and when something goes wrong there’s no need to worry about when the last manual back up was done – it’s automatically taken care of.
There is often a concern that the cloud may not provide the same IP protection as on-site data management. The truth is that the cloud may be less risky than your existing setup. Moving to the cloud means your business can access the policies and controls of your cloud host, without paying for the cost of maintaining facilities and hardware.
According to the World Intellectual Property Association, most IP data breaches occur internally as a result of access and privilege abuse. The cloud allows you to create levels of security and encryption to better protect your IP from internal abuse.
A proper cloud management suite can provide data encryption, automated software updates, automated backup and data centre grade security without the cost of having a full-time IT department.
5. Improved CNC Machine quality
Quality and precision are everything when it comes to high end CNC machined parts. Even small variances in performance can cause manufacturing disruption and costly recalls.
Cloud technology is helping tool manufacturers more easily develop customer scripting and maintain a high level of accuracy, even on large batches.
It also helps enable virtual simulation of tooling and modelling which can reduce waste and speed up trials.
Cloud-connectivity is the next big step for CNC machines. By taking the leap your business can reap the time, security, cost and productivity rewards, not to mention increasing visibility over operations no matter where you are in the world.
Thailand is gearing up for Industry 4.0. Here’s a look at the opportunities and strengths that the second largest economy in ASEAN has to offer, and its manufacturing outlook for this year.
Thailand is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, consistently achieving robust economic growth driven by its strong fundamentals and diverse industries. Its GDP expanded by 2.4 percent in the third quarter of 2019, driven mainly by increases in private and government final consumption expenditure and investment, according to the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI). From January to September 2019, Thailand’s economy expanded by 2.5 percent overall, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The industrial sector represents between 35 percent and 40 percent of Thailand’s GDP, with manufacturing as its main component. Top manufacturing products include automobiles and electronics products. During the first three quarters of 2019, automotive parts and accessories, and computer, equipment and parts are the country’s top two exports, according data from the Ministry of Commerce.
Thailand’s exports to the United States has somewhat benefited from the trade diversion caused by the continuing trade tensions between China and the United States. According to data from the US Census Bureau, Thai exports to the United States reached $27.77 billion from January to October 2019, up by 4.23 percent compared to the same period in the previous year. This accounted for 5.3 percent of Thailand’s total exports during the period.
Many companies in China that export to United States have relocated to ASEAN to circumvent tariffs. Thailand is the second highest recipient of the relocation, with Japanese companies being the majority, particularly in automotive parts and electrical appliances.
The impact of these relocations to Thailand will be more evident in 2020 and is expected to be among the main drivers of the country’s economy, together with greater government spending.
Dr. Djitt Laowattana
Gearing Up for Industry 4.0
At present, there are a lot of investments from mainland China, South Korea, and Japan, coming to Thailand, according to Dr. Djitt Laowattana, Executive Advisor, Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EEC) of Thailand. And most of them are already Industry 4.0, he adds.
“But the local industry is still not acquainted to it. We are still lagging. We are at around Industry 2.5 or 3.0, so, it is a big change in the landscape of the local industry,” says Dr. Laowattana. Based on his recent study, he notes that the necessity for implementing and adopting robotics and automation is a reality now in Thailand.
“Before, when you install one robot, the breakeven is maybe around four or five years. But now, when you install one robot, the breakeven can just be around six or seven months. There’s no need to convince factories anymore,” Dr. Laowattana explains.
EEC Infra Projects in Progress
Dr. Laowattana is currently responsible for five clusters that will be set up in the EEC: Robotics, Aerospace, Medical/Health, Digital Hub, and Biofuels/Biochemicals. “I am responsible for the investment strategy and the human resource development at EEC. We projected that for the 10 clusters, within five years, Thailand will need about 475,000 workers for the industry,” says Dr. Laowattana.
While training and education are important to take advantage of these new manufacturing and technology developments, those already in the industry will also be able to enhance their knowledge on these new technologies through trade events and exhibitions, for instance, the Manufacturing Expo 2020, which is ASEAN’s leading machinery and technology event for manufacturing and supporting industries; as well as trade publications.
The Thai government has earmarked THB1.7 trillion for the development of the EEC. One key development is the upgrading of the U-Tapao International Airport into an “aviation hub”, which will include a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) centre.
The region currently has spearheaded three smart cities, which aims to be smart cites for logistics, financial hub and aerotropolis. According to Dr. Laowattana, when investors look at the EEC, they are not looking at it as a portal of Thailand, but as a portal for CLMV—Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
“The FDI [foreign direct investment] is expected to be about THB4 trillion for the next five years,” says Dr. Laowattana. “Right now, the investments are about THB800 billion—of which, 58% is from China, followed by Japan. We are in a good track. With the investment of THB1.7 trillion for the infrastructure and expected FDI of about THB3 or THB4 trillion for the next five years [in the EEC], anybody can compute and collate that the GDP will be up 2 or 3 percent easily.”
Evolving Manufacturing Landscape
The necessity for implementing and adopting robotics and automation is a reality now in Thailand.
Thailand’s EEC aims to promote industries that are considered to be key driving forces for sustainable economic growth. And one key area of further development is the automotive manufacturing sector.
Thailand has developed from an assembler of automotive components into a top automotive manufacturing and export hub. It ships to more than 100 countries and has an established presence of almost all the world’s leading automotive manufacturers, assemblers and component makers.
In fact, by 2020, Thailand aims to manufacture 3.5 million units of vehicles to become one of the top performers in the global automotive market.
According to Dr. Laowattana, because Thailand’s automotive industry is huge, the challenge for new technologies such as hybrid and electric vehicles (HEVs) is the development of the supply chain around it. “But because this is a global trend, we cannot avoid it. Some of the part suppliers, we have to convert them to become precision parts manufacturers for the aerospace industry. When vehicles become EVs, the precision parts of the engine will be obsolete; so, the suppliers, manufacturers of precision parts, they have to move from the automotive to the aerospace,” Dr. Laowattana says. “My responsibility is to convert them to be the parts manufacturer for the aerospace industry. And there will be a major MRO set up in the EEC. MRO will be a critical component in the aerospace cluster.”
Regarding the transition to EVs, automotive leaders such as Toyota and Honda have already applied for investment incentives for EVs in Thailand. “It seems to me that they are finally doing it, while still maintaining the traditional automotive business. They are now trying to come up with prototypes to test whether EVs and hybrid vehicles will be practical in the Thai market.”
Thailand’s economic outlook is set to pick up this year because of improving state investment after the 2020 fiscal budget is disbursed, which is set to kick off in February. Another thing to note is the investments earmarked for the EEC. Likewise, private investments are also expected to rise despite myriad uncertainties, while exports are seen to improve. In addition, TDRI notes that household consumption is expected to grow at around 3 percent in 2020.
Productivity, in particular, is expected to improve in 2020. “New players are coming; in fact, we have one of the global leaders in robotics coming to Thailand,” says Dr. Laowattana. “I think the outlook for industrial automation will be better.”
Manufacturing Expo 2020, to be held 24–27 June at BITEC, Bangkok, is set to write a new chapter in manufacturing.
Such optimistic outlook bodes well for technology suppliers to Thailand’s high-tech industries, including automotive manufacturing. As Thailand gears up to enter the Industry 4.0 area, system suppliers and equipment makers will find a lot of opportunities to help Thai manufacturers upgrade their manufacturing capabilities, further improve their efficiencies and quality, and take their production to the next level.
As the world changes significantly and the manufacturing industry enters a new era where every single production process is being connected together with Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and big data solutions, Manufacturing Expo 2020, to be held 24–27 June at BITEC, Bangkok, is set to write a new chapter in manufacturing by gathering the newest manufacturing technology innovations and solutions from 2,400 brands from 46 countries. The event aims to highlight the latest breakthroughs and changes happening in the manufacturing industry, and be the industry’s platform to further empower manufacturing development in Thailand.
Market outlook 2020: The year 2019 has been quite a challenging year for the manufacturing industry, with geopolitical tensions impacting investment decisions and shifts in manufacturing centres, and trends such as e-mobility, Industry 4.0, and additive manufacturing creating industrial transformation. In this Outlook 2020 special, six industry leaders share their thoughts on what to expect in 2020, how the industry will develop, new opportunities and market drivers, and how to navigate through the challenges and issues from these dynamics.
HEXAGON MANUFACTURING INTELLIGENCE
Lim Boon Choon, President, Asia Pacific, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence
The year 2019 was a time of economic uncertainty in global manufacturing. But the Asia Pacific region is well placed to capitalise on new opportunities in 2020, as increasing adoption of disruptive technologies shows organisations are facing market challenges by pursuing innovation-driven competitiveness. The growing recognition of the efficiency and operational excellence to be gained from digitised metrology offers long-term, sustainable investment and expansion in the Asia Pacific market.
The Growth of the Smart Factory
Increasingly connected enterprises will be a continuing trend throughout 2020 and beyond. The digital transformation of quality is a central part of this smart factory vision. Approaches to metrology data are maturing, and companies are focused on gaining actionable insights from real-time data. Growing demand for data analysis software is expected, and the adoption of platforms offering advanced big data and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) capabilities will enable far more predictive and proactive manufacturing.
Across the region, new business models will emerge with the prevalence of cloud computing, connecting quality systems to machines throughout end-to-end processes and across factories. Streamlining the analysis and communication of metrology data is essential to breakdown operational silos and drive growth by enhancing product customisation capabilities and throughput.
The trend of automating metrology operations will continue to grow with the increasing adoption of robotics, measuring cells, and automated part loading, enabling manufacturers to scale up their autonomous capabilities. And as manufacturers look to increase their application flexibility, demand for non-contact 3D scanning technology will increase.
Driving Additive Manufacturing Capabilities
Additive manufacturing, also known as industrial 3D printing, is still emerging in sectors such as medical, transportation and logistics, construction, aviation, automotive, and shipping. But according to research from Thyssenkrupp, 3D printing is expected to create $100 billion in value in the ASEAN region by 2025. Quality will play a central role in expanding this developing process, with technologies such as 3D scanning and computed tomography (CT) for measuring internal geometries. Additive manufacturing is a key area of strategic importance for Hexagon. The recent acquisition of CT software provider Volume Graphics adds advanced measurement capabilities to Hexagon’s already comprehensive solution portfolio in the additive space, which also includes software for generative design and additive process simulation.
The expected widespread adoption of smart technologies suggests 2020 will mark a major step forward on the industry 4.0 journey.
Meir Noybauer, Business Development Manager, ISCAR
Throughout the year 2020, the industry as we know it will shift towards smart factories with IoT (Internet of Things) cyber connectivity, and AI (artificial intelligence) and robotics technologies, that will most likely be developed in the main industrial hubs as part of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
Additive Manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing technologies will continue to grow and replace conventional methods for machining automotive, aerospace and energy parts, and facilitate new opportunities for complicated part designs that were previously unrealizable.
The global search for clean energy and low-emission mobility is leaning towards newer and harder materials, which challenge ISCAR to develop advanced machining technologies, such as SiAlON ceramics and super alloy materials, while using high and ultra-high coolant pressure to boost productivities to higher levels never seen before.
The medical sector will be one of the emerging industry segments, with sophisticated implants using advanced materials and machining technologies jointly developed by ISCAR engineers and leading medical implant companies throughout Europe, the US and Eastern Asia.
The automotive segment will continue to be a global industry leader, while transitioning from conventional combustion to small hybrid-high efficiency engines and electric e-drive cars and implementing other clean mobile technologies, specifically for electric charging infrastructures which have not yet been applied in many countries.
Stefano Corradini, Group Director, Sales & Marketing, Marposs
The year 2020 appears to be one of the most challenging years of the last decade, both in the Asia Pacific and worldwide.
The combination of trade wars and their impact on several geographic areas and market sectors, social turmoil in various countries, and many technological changes as consequence of increased environmental concerns, may have a significant negative effect on the general economic situation.
Automotive Manufacturing Evolution
Being a significant part of Marposs business somehow related to the automotive sector, we see the evolution from internal combustion engine (ICE) to electromobility as one of the biggest driver of the economic uncertainty. We prefer, anyway, to see this as an opportunity to offer our existing and new customers an extended panel of solutions, which are moving from our traditional measuring sector to a broader concept including several type of testing equipment (mainly leak test using different type of tracer gas extended also to fuel cells), as well as inspection applications (non-destructive, vision, and similar), and control systems to monitor the whole manufacturing process of the core components of the NEVs/BEVs (new/battery energy vehicles), such as battery cells, modules and packs, battery trays, and electric drive units (EDU) including electric motors; and end of line testing.
We are willing to become a preferred partner of BEV manufacturers and suppliers as we have been for decades for traditional combustion engines, offering them our technical know-how, our innovation culture, and our worldwide organization for sales and after sales.
Steve Bell, General Manager, ASEAN, Renishaw (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Smart manufacturing technologies increase visibility and transparency to manufacturing operations, allowing manufacturers to get the overall picture of their productivity and competitiveness, to make faster changes in response to market-based threats or opportunities. This requires a range of intelligent process control solutions throughout the factory, to ensure high standards of repeatability. The key is going digital—connecting physical manufacturing processes with the digital technology to make decisions about process improvement on the shop floor, or on mobile devices.
Flexible and Customised
Additive manufacturing plays a major role in the Industry 4.0 revolution, allowing manufacturers the flexibility to build highly customised parts. Renishaw’s additive manufacturing technologies continue to evolve, aiming to provide users the flexibility to use, change and manage different metal materials, enables users to adapt to meet market demand and configure processes to achieve optimal performance.
Focus on Automotive Industry
Ensuring businesses are equipped and ready to navigate the evolving automotive manufacturing landscape, Renishaw’s manufacturing solutions provide the speed, flexibility, and ease of use to help companies adapt their production capabilities for the evolving electric future. From multi-sensor rapid scanning of machined castings to material analysis of fuel cells, we will continue to support customers on the road from internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric vehicles (EV).
SIEMENS DIGITAL INDUSTRIES SOFTWARE
Alex Teo, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Siemens Digital Industries Software
The maturity of manufacturing supply chains in Asia has undoubtedly exerted pressure on the metalworking industry to be more competitive than ever. Demand for steel in Asia is expected to rise by an average of 1.5 percent in 2020, and will likely see effects such as rising operating costs necessitating the move for businesses to look for technology driven solutions to relieve some of these operational strains. In particular, Southeast Asia is an exciting region for growth, with markets such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and Singapore making strides in realising their Industry 4.0 visions through digitalisation. In 2020, we also launched a Technical Competency Hub in Penang, the first in the region, which serves as a platform for Siemens to help companies, especially SMEs, begin their digitalisation journey in order to meet the needs of the new economy.
Using digital twins, manufacturers will be able to explore more economical and structurally enhanced materials. By leveraging physics-based simulations, supported by data analytics in an entirely virtual environment, the expansion of production capacity in Asia can be further encouraged. This means that manufacturers can optimise their choice of materials by testing and analysing combinations of different metals and alloys digitally before using additive manufacturing technologies such as powder bed fusion to produce these components faster and more reliably, reducing the need and cost for real prototypes.
Siemens’ end-to-end additive manufacturing solutions cover CAD/CAM/CAE models that enable product design and simulation of production processes and planning, preparation, and verification of the print jobs. Simulation and 3D modelling allow for advanced complexity of design and quality, ultimately resulting in fewer distortions and errors. The goal is flawless execution when parts come out of a factory, ready for certification. The full additive challenge covers the entire value chain: product design, production process, and performance.
Using customisable solutions for pressing, transporting, positioning and press safety, in combination with simulation for the entire spectrum of metal forming, businesses can proactively advance with components working seamlessly together. This collaboration increases the cost-effectiveness of all production processes in all sectors, reducing energy costs.
The economic environment for the international and German machine tool industry remains difficult now and in the coming months. After eight years of high economic activity in the international machine tool industry, global demand for capital goods has calmed considerably after the fourth quarter of 2018. The reasons for this have already been identified and discussed many times. The economic distortions, in particular the trade war between the United States and China, are boosting the already sharp drop in demand. The increasing protectionism at all levels is affecting world trade and international supply chains. Finally, the structural shift in the automotive industry towards new drive technologies is causing further problems. It is still questionable at what pace and extent development is progressing and which technologies will be used in the future. The entire scenario is unsettling the industry worldwide. Companies have become very cautious, and they are shifting their investments.
Because of these, incoming orders in the international machine tool industry fell sharply in all regions in the first nine months of 2019. According to initial estimates, orders worldwide fell by 21 percent. Asia declined by 24 percent, while Europe lost 19 percent of its orders. Contracts in America, which is particularly the United States, held up best, if we can say so. They went down 18 percent in comparison to the previous year. In Germany, with its high dependence on exports, incoming orders fell by 23 percent by October in 2019, the most recent available data. This applies equally to domestic and foreign orders.
Markets to Stabilise
Oxford Economics, the VDW’s forecasting partner, expects this trend to stabilise in the best case scenario for 2020. At 2.5 percent, global economic output is expected to be slightly below the increase in 2019. With 2.1 percent, industrial production will grow more strongly than the current year. This also applies to investments. Stabilisation is also expected for the whole German economy. Industrial production, which is expected to shrink in 2019, is likely to turn slightly up again. This means that incoming orders in the machine tool industry will probably go through the bottom in the course of the coming year.
Machine tool consumption, a late indicator, will remain negative in all regions. Asia is the exception. Manufacturers can draw new hope from the fact that the election results in Great Britain have now provided certainty about the island’s exit date from the European Union. Then, the negotiations on a tariff agreement can begin and hopefully lead to a good end. There is also movement in the trade conflict between the United States and China. Should a consensus be reached, the world economy will reach new momentum as well.
As we move into 2020, we take a look back at the most popular Industry 4.0/Automation and Additive Manufacturing articles for 2019. For your enjoyment, here is the list of the top 10 Industry 4.0 and top five most read Additive Manufacturing articles over the past year.
The second edition of ITAP 2019 – A HANNOVER MESSE event, held from October 22 to 24 at the Singapore EXPO & MAX Atria attracted a record of over 18,000 industry practitioners from 77 countries—a 20 percent increase from last year—of which 27 percent were C-Level attendees.
A total of 350 exhibitors from 30 countries were featured at the event, an increase of 32 percent from last year. Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC 2019 also played host to eight national pavilions, a 60 percent increase from 2018.
With 13 landmark MOUs signed, ITAP 2019 proves to be Asia Pacific’s pre-eminent platform once again, bringing thought leaders, industry partners and policy makers together to generate ideas—enabling a growing ecosystem of Industry 4.0 (I4.0) practitioners to overcome challenges and future-proof their businesses.
A showcase of actionable I4.0 solutions to start, scale and sustain
One hundred more exhibitors were featured this year taking the total to 350 exhibitors across five exhibition segments: Additive Manufacturing; Digital Factory; Integrated Energy; Industrial Automation; and Smart Logistics. Integrated Energy, a new segment, presented 18 exhibitors who showcased innovative sustainable solutions to improve energy efficiency in factories.
Sunil Wahi, Senior Sales Director, Head of Supply Chain Applications, Asia Pacific, Oracle, said, “The exchange and dialogue that Oracle have had with the ecosystem at this event have been phenomenal. ITAP 2019 has allowed us to have meaningful conversations with CXOs about where to start on their I4.0 journey and how they could leverage the cloud applications that Oracle has to offer.”
Fueling high-level international engagements
There were more international representations this year with 3,255 unique foreign attendees (18 percent of total attendees in 2019 and a 67 percent increase from last year), 200 hosted buyers from the region (67 percent increase from last year), 47 regional delegations and eight national pavilions.
The Russian Federation presented an impressive pavilion showcasing I4.0 solutions from 70 high-tech companies and electronic products across several sectors: industrial automation; digital factory; medical technologies; integrated energy; aerospace; artificial intelligence; cybersecurity; and electronics. There were close to 700 meetings with potential partners from Asia Pacific.
A learning journey with customisable I4.0 solutions
This year saw 2,700 guided tour participants (29 percent increase from last year) who actively learnt more about old vs new technologies. The show’s signature Learning Journey approach included the highly anticipated new space, Collaboration Lab, a co-creation and demonstration area for solution providers and manufacturers to discuss test-bedding and retrofitting solutions for a stepped approach towards progressive adoption of I4.0 solutions.
Together with other curated platforms that enhanced the intersection of industries to exchange and explore new ideas, the show facilitated 1,100 business matchings (41 percent increase from last year) and saw the launch of 30 new products with significant MOUs signed among industry players.
James Boey, Executive Director of SingEx Exhibitions said, “We set out last year to curate a platform that would inspire learning, deepen understanding of I4.0 solutions and spark collaborations among industry giants, SMEs and startups. This year, with the introduction of new content and more opportunities for business matching and collaborations, the event exceeded our expectations. With 67 percent more regional delegations, 13 MOUs sealed and 30 new product launches, it is evident that Asia Pacific is already undergoing change, and Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC is central to this transformation where practitioners gain knowledge, make valuable connections and adopt best practices for better implementation of I4.0 solutions. The strong attendance of ASEAN delegations from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines was testament to the significance of the show in meeting current market demands.”
Next year’s ITAP will be held 20 to 22 October 2020.