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Looking Ahead Into 2020

Looking Ahead Into 2020

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.


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).

3D Printing

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.

Clean Energy

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).



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.

Digital Twins

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.

Additive Manufacturing

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.



Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director, VDW (German Machine Tool Manufacturers’ Association)

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.


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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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Getting Emo-Tional On Global Metalworking Trends

Getting Emo-Tional On Global Metalworking Trends

With the upcoming Emo Hannover’s theme of “connecting systems for intelligent production”, the event organiser German Machine Tool Builders’ Association (VDW) is putting a spotlight on important trends steering not just global machine tool industry, but also its related sectors. Dr-Ing Schaefer, executive director of VDW, shares his insights. 

Having produced 15.2 billion euros (US$16.6 billion) of machinery in 2016, Germany is the world’s largest exporter of machine tools, exporting 7.6 billion euros (US$8.31 billion) globally, according to the German Machine Tool Builders’ Association (VDW). Dr Heinz-Jurgen Prokop, VDW chairman, predicts a production output growth of three per cent this year due to high-volume, automobile-driven business worldwide.

While China continues to drive growth in Asia, Dr-Ing Wilfried Schaefer, executive director of VDW, shared that machine tool consumption in East Asia is expected to increase by a quarter. The association is organising Emo Hannover, the world’s biggest international metalworking exhibition. Taking place in September this year, the exhibition is expected to attract around 143,000 visitors from more than 110 countries.

Dr-Ing Schaefer talks to APMEN on important trends steering the global machine tool industry, such as the mutual sharing of knowledge between academia and companies, and the seemingly unstoppable advance of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Q: Is there anything you would like to talk about with regards to machine tools in the Asia region?

Dr-Ing Wilfried Schaefer (WS): I would say the overall consumption of machine tools globally in 2016 went down a little. It went down to US$74 billion in consumption, a drop of 2.6 percent. For 2017, we expect an upturn of 3.1 percent, which is mainly driven by Europe because we have seen an increasing amount of orders in the last year.

Between the time of order for the materials, export and delivery, there is a delay of six to 12 months to produce machines. Another market we are expecting a turnaround is in Asia. In the US, their bottom line has remained stable.

In Asia however, the expected increase in 3.4 percent, mainly driven by China. After the two years of reduction, we are starting to see an increase of investments in the country now. We expect an increase of 25 percent in East Asia, and we see an increase in export in the whole region.

In Singapore, we see ups and downs. In 2013, it decreased by 14 percent, and 2014, it dropped another 38 percent, and there was an enormous slowdown of investment. In 2015 however, there was an increase of 86 percent. The increase was contributed by investment in new products being organised, re-investment into old machines and also bilateral trade. In terms of exports including parts and services, in 2015, it was about US$39.9 billion. There was a downturn in 2016, where exports only reached US$30 billion.

The main machines include those for laser cutting, ultrasonic machine, machining centres, as well as polishing and finishing machines. There have not been many exports from Singapore to Germany, but it has been picking up in the past years. In 2014, there was a total of US$14.2 million of imports from Singapore into Germany.

Q: Why should Emo be a focus for Asian companies to visit for improvement in its manufacturing lines?

(WS): First of all, EMO Hannover is the world’s biggest show for the metalworking industry. It has over 180,000 sq m of net exhibition space, spanning over 17 halls. In Emo’s previous 2013 edition, there were over 2,100 exhibitors. We also have exhibitors from over 42 countries, and major manufacturing companies from different countries were there.

There will be a whole range of equipment for visitors to see along the entire value chain for metal products, with some huge machines with heights reaching close to the ceiling. All the current machinery and technology for it will be available at Emo Hannover for visitors and exhibitors.

Q: The mutual sharing of knowledge between academia and companies is important in the continued innovation for metalworking. Will there be any such conferences in EMO?

(WS): Concerning this, as an association for the metalworking, we have a very close relationship to the German Academic Society for Production Engineering (WGP). We have meetings twice a year to discuss and exchange views. It has about 36 members and the members include university institutions and research institutions for production in Germany. It does not only include machine tools but also production organisation, tooling, machining, robotics and automation, and also digitisation and controllers.

The WGP will give the conference, where they will focus on the new developments of their research activities. This will be different from the usual topics like machining, as there would be talks on new technology such as titanium machining, and new strategies for precision production and grinding. The major topic for this year’s EMO is Industry 4.0 and IoT. This is why we have the motto of “Connecting systems for intelligent production”. We will have a special booth of about 1,000 sq m where companies as well as universities showcase their latest solutions and research activities in terms of IoT. Some of the universities will also have their own booth and a speaker’s corner where they present their findings. I’d like to finalise by saying they are also involved in the topic of additive manufacturing, and there will be talks on that too.

Q: Any other highlights for the exhibition?

(WS): We have a special booth by our partner Machining Innovations Network, which is a cluster in the north of Germany. This includes machine tooling manufacturers, customers from the aerospace industry as well as university institutions. They are doing research on all kinds of production aspects in the field of aerospace production, which includes titanium and composite parts for the body of aeroplanes.

During the exhibition, they will display the production line for producing components in the field of aerospace industry. Some other major exhibitors will also share their unique insights on customer segments; they will also show applications for large scale aerospace production. There are machines with dimensions as large as 20 metres, which will display the production of wing columns of aeroplanes are built.

Q: What are your thoughts on “Industry 4.0” and “IoT” in terms of contribution to the metalworking sector?

(WS): Industry 4.0 is a sub-section of IoT for production. This applies not only for the metalworking, but also textile machinery and plastic-producing machinery and overall production. Digitisation is also not IoT because if you look at the machines in plants, they are each controlled by a computer. Over the past 20 years, each machine has been running digitally—it has digital drives and digital measurement systems and so forth.

There is a large amount of data from the machines, and the question is how do we get the data from the machines and still have secure communication? The data is sensitive as it contains a lot of information from the machines, before being put up on the cloud. With this big data, it can then be analysed and you may find structures that will give you possibilities for new services for your customers.

For example, component producers have analysed how long roller bearings can last, before they have to be serviced. Now with predictive maintenance, tools do not have to be thrown out prematurely and can last as long as they should. You may analyse the data from bearings built to last 1,500 hours, and after analysing the data you may see that after 1,500 hours the bearing is still working fine, so this means you do not have to throw it out.

This increases the customer’s productivity. When the data shows a change in the structure of the information, then predictive changes can be made. Predictive maintenance gives you concrete possibilities to really use the potential of each part of the machine. This also applies for condition monitoring where you control the process of the machine, and the same applies for tooling as well.

These are different functions and another aspect to from the machine producer’s side; these are services that can be offered to their customers that provide more value for them. Now, when you see a machine is breaking down, you can see from the data what is exactly wrong with the machine so you will be able to fix it. A lot of these topics will also be presented on during EMO Hannover.

Q: Any other thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

(WS): If any visitors or exhibitors are interested in getting the latest information for their future investments, Emo Hannover would be the right place to be for them. Here, they will get to see all the companies involved in different types of technologies relating to metalworking. This is along the whole value chain, so companies involved in CAD and other software producers for production, machining manufacturers for production, tooling manufacturers, metrology and quality control systems providers will all be in attendance. It is everything a metalworking company needs to know in one exhibition.

We also have the Enterprise Europe Network, an online platform for organising meetings between visitors and exhibitors. It connects companies who are looking for specific certain products and equipment to the exhibitors who can provide them. The platform is efficient and time-saving at connecting these people, especially as the exhibition halls span across a large area.


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