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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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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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EMO Hannover 2019: Global Machine Tool Community Paving The Way For Industry 4.0

EMO Hannover 2019: Global Machine Tool Community Paving The Way For Industry 4.0

70 companies from ten countries have connected 110 machines and 28 value-added services at EMO Hannover 2019 via the umati standard interface. “umati is opening up a new chapter in production,” says Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, Chairman of the VDW (Verein Deutscher Werkzeugmaschinenhersteller – German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), at the umati press conference on 16 September 2019 in Hanover.

“The interface enables machine tool manufacturers to fulfill another Industry 4.0 promise: the simple, fast and secure exchange of data,” continues Prokop. Creating a connection and providing a uniform language for machines, systems and software are essential prerequisites for reaping the benefits of digitalisation in production. The fact that individual companies no longer have to concern themselves with the correct functioning of the network interconnection represents a tremendous step forward.

International acceptance

umati has also already made a strong impression internationally. Three international consortia from major machine tool manufacturing countries have joined the interface: ProdNet from Switzerland, Edgecross from Japan and NCLink from China. In addition, the machine tool associations from China, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Taiwan as well as the European machine tool association Cecimo are supporting the project.

“Choosing the OPC UA standard as a basis for the development of the interface supports international dissemination. It ensures that umati can be used free of charge worldwide,” explains Prokop. 90 companies are contributing to the standardisation work in the Joint Working Group together with the OPC Foundation. The release of Version 1.0 of the Companion Specification, the next milestone, is planned for the middle of next year.

EMO showcase demonstrating the effectiveness of umati

The showcase at EMO Hannover 2019 demonstrates that the interface is already up and running. Each machine has an OPC UA server which sends the data to a data hub which has been set up especially for the trade fair. There, the software value-added services can access the data via OPC UA clients and show what added value can be generated from the resulting data. How the data is coming together can be experienced via a live dashboard at the umati central information booth (E24) in Hall 9.

umati success will be decided by the market

Whether or not umati is successful will ultimately depend on how customers rate the added value of the interface. For their part, manufacturers must provide this added value in a dependable manner. “For this we need reliable partners who can provide the necessary components such as control architecture and software components. We will achieve this through close cooperation with the control manufacturers and, in future, no doubt also with extensive parts of the supply chain,” says VDW Chairman Prokop.

But until then, the umati working group still has much to do. Version 1.0 will be the starting signal for launching actual products. “In the future, the umati brand should represent a promise: anyone who buys a umati machine and has umati interface software should be able to get the data flowing with no difficulty,” says Prokop.

In order to achieve similarly extensive distribution to that of the USB connector in the consumer goods sector, the VDW is working – in addition to the Companion Specifications – on establishing a binding specification for the configuration of communication parameters, defining minimum requirements for implementation, and developing standardised test procedures to assess performance. Further aims include extending the brand’s global reach, defining binding conditions for its use and setting up a viable organisational structure. “Version 2.0 is already on the horizon because there are many aspects which have not yet been tackled, such as production order management on the machines, or tool management,” concludes the VDW Chairman.

 

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Interview With Mr. David Chia, Automation Charter Chair Of The Singapore Industrial Automation Association

Interview With Mr. David Chia, Automation Charter Chair Of The Singapore Industrial Automation Association

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr. David Chia, Automation Charter Chair of the Singapore Industrial Automation Association on his views on the future of manufacturing technologies in Asia and the impact of the current trade war on the industry.

Interview With Mr. David Chia, Automation Charter Chair Of The Singapore Industrial Automation Association

1.Could you provide an overview of the key trends that have shaped the manufacturing industry in Asia in 2018?

We see some key trends emerging this year:

  • Digitalisation in the drive towards more manufacturing productivity, we are witnessing more and more companies (mostly MNCs) develop and execute their digitisation plans. Each sensor data, each module conditions, each machine performance are getting collected and sent to the cloud, where the data engineers and scientists are waiting. Driving business insights from those data is now no longer a dream, but an imperative corporate goal to ensure survival and growth.
  • Adoption of open standards. Digitisation is not possible without the existence of the underlying IoT technologies. Without a common standard, it would’ve been very expensive for individual companies to develop and deploy their own standards, thereby slowing down the whole digitisation process. MQTT seems to gain a very wide acceptance as the communication technology of choice here. It is quickly becoming the de facto standard to communicate with the cloud. Meanwhile OPC UA is becoming the protocol of choice for device and machine intercommunication on the factory floor.
  • Governmental push towards Industry 4.0. Singapore is blessed with a forward looking government who has put out the initiative as early as 2014. However, government in the ASEAN region is quickly catching up. One example is Indonesia, who announced this year their own roadmap to Industry 4.0. Having such a large manufacturing base in the country, it is encouraging that the government has focused on five sectors: Food & Beverage, Chemical, Textile, Automotive, and Electronics industries. We can expect other governments in the region to do the same soon.

2. What has been the top 3 biggest challenges in the digitalisation of manufacturing in Asia?

The biggest challenges are funding, technology standards, and talent.

  • Funding, this is probably the biggest challenge facing SMEs. Digitisation is relatively a new concept in manufacturing space. Very few companies can claim that they have done it successfully. In the absence of such successful case studies, it is quite difficult to get the appropriate funding.
  • Technological standards. While some standards in some areas are quite established, they are not monopolies. For example, when we look into the area of fieldbus, there’s a plethora of options out there: old vs new standards, serial based vs Ethernet based, and a variety of ways that these standards work. This presents a challenge for the implementer of digitisation to get the data from different machines or different part of the plants.
  • Unfortunately for companies embarking on digitisation journey, it is not a one month journey. There is no single off the shelf components or a plug and play software solution to perform digitisation. For many companies, digitisation is a multi-year multi-stage efforts. Getting the right people to perform different functions along this journey is a challenge. Retaining the talents is probably a bigger challenge. Meanwhile the factory floor workers must be re-trained to get up to date with the latest digitisation initiative that the company is embarking on.

3. How do you suggest that the challenges that have been mentioned above be overcome?

It will take some efforts from different stakeholders to overcome those challenges:

  • Companies should collaborate more to create common standards. There are more to gain from standardisation than competition. Germany is leading this effort and they have done quite well. VDMA is leading the machine standardisation for Germany. Countries in the ASEAN region may need to follow on their footsteps.
  • Governments across the region should help in the funding of digitisation initiative. This is very important for SMEs. While big players have easy access to funding, small SMEs are facing a big challenge here. Governments can come in and fill the funding gap in the short to medium term.
  • Re-training and upskilling the workforce is needed. We are facing shortages in data engineers, data scientists, data analysts in the region. While some manufacturing jobs will eventually disappear as an effect of digitisation, new ones will be created. However, those new jobs creation are on the higher end of the skill spectrum, hence the importance of educational institutes.

4. How has the trade war impacted manufacturing in Asia in 2018 and how will it continue to impact the industry in 2019?

There’s an old saying that goes where one door closes, another opens. This is true in the current trade war situation. It creates uncertainty on one hand, but it creates opportunity on another hand. We are seeing more investment flowing to other regions outside China. Closer to home, the South East Asian region seems to benefit from this trend.

5. For 2019, what will be the emerging markets and focus areas that the metalworking industry in Asia will focus on?

At the mass market stage, enterprise digitisation will penetrate deeper into the manufacturing floor. Enterprise will look to get more data from as many machines and sensors as possible. This has been happening in the past years, and we are expecting this trend to continue.

The need for data collection will force some rethinking in what goes inside the control cabinet. While traditional controllers are well known and well loved, it needs some additional components to do data collection and data sending. Additional components means additional costs and more point of failures, and a potentially bigger control cabinet. Some PC based solutions out there will be more attractive moving forward.

As well as sending data over standardised communication protocol, companies will increasingly looking to get standardised information from each machine type. This so called “information modelling” will make sense when one look into a production line today, there is hardly a “homogenous” production line containing the same machine model from the same manufacturer. In this area, the VDW has announced umati, an open and common language specifically designed for machine tools. With umati, end users can utilise the same interface to get the same data from different model of machine tools from different manufacturers. The good news is, umati is based on OPC UA.

Another focus for metalworking and CNC world will be the use of AR technologies. While still a cutting edge technology today, this technology holds a lot of promise from speeding up operators training, to helping maintenance work.

At the bleeding edge, we increasingly see a trend where suppliers are looking to implement ML directly on premise / machine. While this is on early stages, we feel that this would be the internal focus of many bleeding edge supplier

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