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Siemens On Automotive Manufacturing Trends, E-Vehicles, COVID-19, And VinFast

Siemens on Automotive Manufacturing Trends, E-Vehicles, COVID-19, and VinFast

Alex Teo of Siemens Digital Industries Software talks about the current automotive manufacturing trends; their collaboration with VinFast; and the impact of COVID-19. Article by Stephen Las Marias. 

Siemens on Automotive Manufacturing Trends, E-Vehicles, COVID-19, and VinFast

Alex Teo

Alex Teo is the Managing Director for Southeast Asia at Siemens Digital Industries Software. In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, he discussed the trends happening in the automotive manufacturing industry right now, how these trends have changed the requirements from manufacturers, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, and their collaboration with VinFast.

WHAT TRENDS ARE HAPPENING IN THE AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING SPACE RIGHT NOW?

Alex Teo (AT): Overall, the automotive manufacturing sector is expected to continue its rapid journey of transformation. Global competitive intensity will also rise, as manufacturers in China and Vietnam expand their attention beyond domestic markets. Technological advances—including interactive safety systems, vehicle connectivity, and self-driving vehicle technology, among others—will continue to drive development. 

READ: Siemens Connects Healthcare Providers And Medical Designers To Produce Components Through AM

In particular, two trends are leading the way in automotive manufacturing. On the one hand, autonomous vehicles are expected to become mainstream soon, with some estimates projecting that up to 15 percent of all vehicles sold worldwide will be autonomous by 2030. For automotive manufacturers, the rise of autonomy also comes with a new premium on agile development cycles, shorter production runs of a wider array of vehicle types, and new partnerships and collaboration across the supply chain. The new autonomous vehicle ecosystem includes new chip, software, sensor, and systems-oriented technology companies, in addition to the traditional manufacturers and their upstream partners. Meanwhile, automakers must still maximise revenue from existing product lines and appropriately balance R&D spending to refresh these lines today while investing for a likely radically different future.

On the other hand, growing efforts to fight climate change in the region are also likely to drive an increase in demand for electrification in vehicles. Government regulations, such as Singapore’s recently announced plans to incentivise electric vehicle adoption, will drive significant shifts in consumer demand. To capitalise on this demand, car-makers must be able to develop and produce electric vehicles with adequate range, fast-charge capabilities, and multiple design variants in each vehicle segment. Achieving all this with the same (or lower) cost of ownership as conventional vehicles requires bringing innovations and engineering efficiency that has been unheard of in the automotive industry – without risking safety, reliability, and quality.

HOW HAVE REQUIREMENTS FROM AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURERS CHANGED?

Siemens on Automotive Manufacturing Trends, E-Vehicles, COVID-19, and VinFast

AT: Across the region, trends in automotive manufacturing are largely being driven by governments, through policy and regulatory initiatives, as well as end-consumers, whose preferences continue to shape the market. Automotive manufacturers will have to tap on digital technology and software-driven solutions to balance these needs while maintaining profitability.

READ: Siemens Addresses Overheating Challenges in Additive Manufacturing

Regulations arising from the need to go green will likely require manufacturers to better understand both the performance of their final products, as well as the sustainability of their supply chain. Aside from emissions data of the finished vehicle, manufacturers also need to assess the environmental impact of their operations throughout the value chain. At the same time, evolving regulations relating to autonomous vehicle development will require that automotive manufacturers are able to ensure the safety of passengers, pedestrians and property.

A lot of this can be addressed with digital twin technology, which will allow automotive manufacturers to simulate and test at much greater scale, and lower cost. This will allow them to uncover in greater detail the performance of their products, as well as gain visibility into their product lifecycle.

HOW DOES INDUSTRY 4.0 IMPACT AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING? WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES?

AT: The car of the future will be connected, working seamlessly as part of a larger, intelligent mobility network. It will be able to communicate with other vehicles, devices and smart roadway infrastructure. As every vehicle becomes a source for receiving and transmitting bits of information, key concerns for consumers, governments and manufacturers alike will include factors such as cybersecurity and energy efficiency. As interconnectivity between vehicles and systems grow, automotive manufacturers will have to work with a large range of other technology partners to provide a seamless customer experience for their products.

READ: VinFast Deploys Siemens’ Full Portfolio To Deliver Cars Ahead Of Schedule

Similarly, Industry 4.0 brings unprecedented connectivity to the product lifecycle, while allowing manufacturers to innovate at lower cost, step up efficiency across the supply chain, and reduce their impact to the environment.

However, manufacturers—especially in various parts of developing Asia—should also focus on upskilling their workforce to fully realise the benefits of a digital factory. While new technologies possess great autonomy, humans must provide direction and control—and apart from overseeing technology, they are needed to gather, compare, analyse and apply data. Implementing Industry 4.0 technologies without knowing how to interpret, manage, and act on the insights leaves businesses with just a buzzword that has no real applicable value. There is a need for organisations to develop talent strategies, as well as build up staffing and training plans to meet the changing needs in terms of skills, job description and organisational models of the companies.

Siemens Digital Industries Software addresses this issue through initiatives such as its Technical Competency Hubs, one of which was launched in Penang in 2019, the only such facility in Southeast Asia. It is part of Siemens’ efforts to support Industry 4.0 development efforts with countries in the region. The hub will also serve as a platform for Siemens to help companies, especially SMEs, begin their digitalisation journey in order to meet the needs of the new economy.

HOW WILL THE TREND TOWARDS ELECTRIC VEHICLES IMPACT THE AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY IN ASEAN?

AT: Undoubtedly, automotive manufacturers in the region will need to adapt their production capabilities to accommodate these changes and trends. As the ASEAN region grows in importance as an automotive manufacturing hub for the world, businesses here will have to cater to these changing trends.

More importantly, however, businesses need to recognise that the shift towards electric vehicles is just one trend in a long line of many. Consumer demand is always shifting—and at an ever-increasing pace. Instead of concentrating on one trend, automotive manufacturers in ASEAN should focus on becoming more nimble and agile, which will allow them to capitalise on the pace of change in consumer preferences, especially amidst growing uncertainty in global markets.

For carmakers, the ability to analyse real-time road data should improve the efficacy of sales and marketing, while digital design and manufacturing can raise productivity in a dramatic way: big data simulations and virtual modelling can lower development costs and speed up time to market. That should resonate with customers conditioned to the innovation clock speed of consumer electronics, such as smartphones or laptops.

COVID-19 PANDEMIC: WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT IN THE AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY, AND WHAT LESSONS CAN BE LEARNED FROM THIS?

AT: It is difficult to assess definitively the impact of COVID-19 on the automotive manufacturing, or any other, industry in Asia at the moment, given that the situation is still developing, and is expected to persist for quite a while more. 

READ: Vingroup To Produce Ventilators And Body Thermometers In The Fight Against COVID-19

What we do know is that there is now a pressing need for manufacturers to pivot their operations to become more innovative and agile, so that they are able to quickly capitalise on new trends, or leverage technology to become more efficient. For example, capabilities such as additive manufacturing may allow manufacturers to minimise the impact of supply chain disruption, as it allows for a much larger range of complex parts to be built onsite, while also reducing the need for tooling. Manufacturers need to take this period of downtime to upgrade their capabilities, so that they can fully realise the positive effects from when the economy recovers.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR COLLABORATION WITH VINFAST. WHAT WERE THE COMPANY’S CHALLENGES AND GOALS, AND WHERE DID SIEMENS COME IN TO HELP ADDRESS THEIR ISSUES?

AT: VinFast had big goals. Before its 335-hectare plant in Hai Phong was established, there was no Vietnamese brand for passenger cars. It wanted to be competitive both domestically in Vietnam and globally right from the beginning, and relied on Siemens’ expertise to utilise the latest technology. This resulted in a closed-loop manufacturing system which uses digital twins of the products, the production, and the performance of production and product. The fully digital factory was built in 21 months—50 percent faster than usual—and is designed to be easily scalable for future expansions.

READ: Siemens Partners With VinFast To Develop First Made-In-Vietnam Automotives

VinFast uses the comprehensive offerings from Siemens that combines Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software such as the Tecnomatix portfolio with Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM), through the new harmonised, holistic portfolio Siemens Opcenter, to realise lean manufacturing across all phases, and with Totally Integrated Automation for all automation, including robots, conveyors, presses and milling machines. 

This holistic approach has increased the speed and flexibility in development, ensured high global standards in production, optimised the manufacturing process, and made the entire plant future-proof for further expansions and new business models.

VinFast also works closely with Siemens Digital Industries Software to implement a fully functional digital twin. Developing new cars and scooters, planning the new plant, and finally producing with the help of digital tools creates a detailed virtual image, the digital twin. The digital twin creates new insights, thanks to the combination of physics-based simulations with data analytics in a fully virtual environment. This makes it possible to realise innovations faster and more reliable, while also requiring significantly fewer real prototypes. Even more data are created when the product is being produced or a plant begins operation.

These performance data of the real production and of the real product can be collected, analysed, and fed back into the development cycle. Here, they help VinFast to improve and optimise new products and processes at an early stage.

 

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Vietnam’s Economy To Remain One Of The Fastest Growing In Asia Despite Sharp Slowdown Due To COVID-19

Vietnam’s Economy To Remain One Of The Fastest Growing In Asia Despite Sharp Slowdown Due to COVID-19

Vietnam’s economic growth rate is expected to slow sharply in 2020, to 4.8 percent, from the initial supply shock to economic activity from the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the subsequent and ongoing drop in demand from Vietnam’s principal trade and investment partners, according to a report by Asian Development Bank (ADB).

READ: Vingroup To Produce Ventilators And Body Thermometers In The Fight Against COVID-19

Economic growth decelerated to 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, from 6.8 percent in the corresponding period in 2019. Travel and other restrictions imposed by the government to slow the spread of the virus led to lower domestic consumption. Manufacturing managed to weather the headwinds early on but the inventory of inputs, including those part of global value chains, are being depleted. Growth in agriculture stagnated because of lower demand for agricultural exports and severe salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta. Growth in services, the sector hardest hit by the pandemic, was halved to 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020, down from 6.5 percent in the corresponding period in 2019.

READ: Ford & Toyota—First Automakers To Suspend Production In Vietnam Due To Covid19

To support economic activity, in early March the government unveiled a $10.8 billion (0.4 percent of gross domestic product) credit relief package of debt restructuring and lowered interest rates and fees. The government also launched a fiscal package worth $1.3 billion that reduces taxes and fees for affected firms and defers tax payment, and the fiscal support is expected to rise. The central bank also cut policy rates by 0.5 percent to 1.0 percent, lowered interest rate caps on dong deposits of less than 6 months and on short-term dong lending to prioritised sectors.

The economy’s fundamentals remain resilient, according to ADB’s flagship annual economic publication, the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020. If the pandemic is contained within the first half of 2020, growth should rebound to 6.8 percent in 2021—ADB’s pre-COVID-19 forecast for Viet Nam in 2020—and remain strong over the medium and long-term.

READ: Impact of COVID-19 On The Automotive Manufacturing Supply Chain

“Despite the deceleration in economic activity and the downside risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Viet Nam’s economic growth is projected to remain one of the highest in Southeast Asia,” said ADB Country Director for Viet Nam Eric Sidgwick.

Drivers of economic growth—a growing middle class and a dynamic private sector—remain robust. The country’s business environment continues to improve. Public spending to combat the impact of the pandemic, which rose significantly in January and February, will likely be raised further. The large number of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements Viet Nam participates in, which promise improved market access, will help the country’s economic rebound. Viet Nam would also benefit from the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic and eventual return of economic growth in the People’s Republic of China, which would help revive the global value chains.

 

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Ford & Toyota—First Automakers To Suspend Production In Vietnam Due To Covid19

Ford & Toyota—First Automakers To Suspend Production In Vietnam Due To Covid19

In response to the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid19), Ford Motor Company has announced that the company will be temporarily suspending vehicle and engine production at its International Markets Group (IMG) manufacturing sites which includes Vietnam.

READ: Coronavirus Hits Automotive And Aerospace Supply Chains

In January 2020, Ford announced an expansion plan for its plant in Vietnam to increase annual production capacity from the current 14,000 to 40,000 vehicles, with an investment of US$82 million.

However, Ford Vietnam’s Hai Duong assembly plant has now been scheduled to stop operations by March 26—the first to do so in the country. This will continue for several weeks depending on the pandemic situation, national restrictions, supplier constraints and dealer stock requirements.

READ: Coronavirus Outbreak Reveals the Weakest Links In The Supply Chain

Similarly, Toyota Motor Vietnam (TMV) has also temporarily halted vehicle production starting March 30—the second in Vietnam. According to TMV, the outbreak has impacted all aspects, from economy to society, including the automobile industry and resumption of production will be dependant on the outbreak situation, market demand, supply chain situation, the dealers’ stock and Government’s restriction regulation.

“We are taking necessary actions to protect their safety and health as well as minimising any impact on our company’s operation. While closely monitoring the situation, we will consider and make decisions guided by the direction from the Government,” said a representative from TMV.

READ: COVID-19 Forces Companies To Evaluate How They Operate And Embrace Technological Investment

According to Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA), sales of members decreased 26 percent to 31,908 in end of February due to the impact of Covid19. In particular, sales of passenger and commercial vehicles dipped 30 and 12 percent respectively due to changing consumer behaviour in light of the pandemic.

 

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Heimatec On Thailand Opportunities And Challenges

Heimatec on Thailand Opportunities and Challenges

Karl Moessmer and Dirk Hund of Heimatec sound off on the company’s Thailand market and the opportunities they are seeing in the region. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

At the recent METALEX 2019 event in Bangkok, Thailand, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) spoke with Karl Moessmer, regional manager for Singapore, and Dirk Hund, sales manager, at Heimatec, about the company’s Thailand market and the opportunities they are seeing in the region.

READ: Thailand Sets Sight on Industry 4.0

HOW LONG HAS THE COMPANY BEEN IN THAILAND AND HOW HAS YOUR BUSINESS BEEN?

Dirk Hund (DH): Compared to Vietnam, Thailand is a better market for us so far. We have really good partnerships here, and projects are more promising. It is a more-developed market, that is why I think, it is a better situation here in Thailand as of the moment.

Karl Moessmer (KM): Our first exhibition was in 2011. Since then, we have participated in the same show until today, and we are going to continue this basis because we believe in the continuity of activities here.

As Dirk mentioned, we have now shaped a team that is quite reliable and performing in our interests. As far as the market potential is concerned, there is an increased investment flowing into Thailand. So that, among the Southeast Asian market, Thailand has a great potential for us in the next couple of years. There is no such thing as instant success—if you come in for a quick buck, you are wrong, because any place that is solidly growing is going to be there forever.

A quick success might not be continuing. This is why we believe in continuity. To see where our chances are, and come in with more professional support, that is our intention.

READ: Thailand’s Roadmap To Become The Regional EV Hub By 2025

DH: And to set up the right strategy. You have to adjust the strategy, every year. It is still challenging, since it is a different country, different culture. You can’t compare it with other countries, especially in Southeast Asia. If you do not have a direct sales team here, everything will then rely on your partner—so you have to have the right partners in the country.

IN WHICH INDUSTRIES DO YOU SEE GROWTH HERE IN THAILAND?

KM: It is still the automotive industry, with some machine makers. We will have to see if they will continue to be automotive because of all the uncertainties with the electric vehicles. This might cause some hesitation with people interested in investment. We are here to survey the market to see what is coming up within the next couple of years.

We are of high hopes that we are still placed in a potential market, especially since we know that a lot of German manufacturers based in China are moving out and trying to establish themselves in some other markets in Southeast Asia. Thailand, Vietnam, maybe Indonesia to some extent, will be benefitting from the reduction of the German investment, or European investment in China. This is why, I think, this is a good location to focus on.

READ: Light In Thailand’s Economy Despite Coronavirus Outbreak

WHAT TECHNOLOGY TRENDS ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW IN THE MARKET?

DH: The whole topic of Industry 4.0—I think it’s a big step to go for manufacturers here and Southeast Asia as a whole. It is a big step in Europe, but I think we are in the early stages here.

I don’t know if people really know what is behind Industry 4.0. For big companies with many machineries, it is a trend already. Here, I think it is a small portion at the moment. We can offer tools for Industry 4.0, but I think it is still a long way to go, especially here in Asia.

READ: Heimatec Discusses Market Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies

KM: I think everybody is just in a sort of wait-and-see attitude. This is also affecting investments. Nobody knows in which direction the markets will move, and this is causing hesitation. This is why I think foreign direct investments (FDI) will not be as much as it has been in the past. So, we have nothing else in mind but to be around, survey the situation, and then adapt to however necessary.

IN OUR PAST DISCUSSION, YOU MENTIONED VIETNAM’S MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY IS SOMEHOW NOT MATURED YET IN RELATION TO HEIMATEC’S ADVANCED SOLUTIONS. IS IT THE SAME IN THAILAND?

KM: Thailand is a bit more advanced than Vietnam because they have experienced a long-term investment of Japanese and European companies. From that point on, they started to grow and develop. Also, in terms of technical knowledge, they are one, if not, two steps ahead of Vietnam. But Vietnam will upgrade themselves also. So, we have a lot of market studies to do to benefit from the move in the market.

DH: I can underline that. It is still, I think, the technology you have to offer. They are more advanced, yes, but still not on the high level.

READ: heimatec to Showcase New Tool Features and Innovations at METALEX 2019

KM: We cannot compare a European technical standard to the Southeast Asian standard, so, we should not move into the market with the wrong perception. This is why we have learned to be patient, and provide more support and assistance, because to handle a catalogue is not enough—this is not a wear-and-tear part, it’s not a consumable—this is an important part of a solution for a machining process.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FINAL COMMENTS?

KM: There is no perfect solution. From my point of view, the only thing you can do is be present, observe the market, and stay in contact with your partners. Expect a good feedback from their side and try to realize whatever perception you have. There’s no other way around it. And nobody knows which the appropriate direction is to move—nobody.

Even the people who come here often do not know everything about Thailand. The market is always full of surprises. So, as long as the economical and political situations remain stable, we have a good perspective for the future. But you never know what is going to happen. That is why you have to be highly flexible.

 

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Vietnam Automobile Sales Rebound In February

Vietnam Automobile Sales Rebound In February

The Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (VAMA) has reported a month-on-month increase of 11 percent in automobile sales in February—its members sold 17,616 vehicles in the month.

READ: Vietnam Supports Domestic Automotive Manufacturing

Sales of domestically assembled vehicles increased 22 percent to 11,697 units while imported vehicle sales dropped four percent to 5,919 units.

The Vietnam government is implementing favourable policies to drive further growth in the automotive market in 2020. This includes removal of import tax for auto parts and reducing tax on domestically manufactured car components, which would help to reduce operational costs.

Other policies proposed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) includes lowering corporate income tax for auto industry and lower loan interest rates for purchasing of domestically manufactured vehicles.

 

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MVTec Expands Distributor Network In Southeast Asia

MVTec Expands Distributor Network in Southeast Asia

Machine vision software provider MVTec Software GmbH is expanding its partner network in Southeast Asia by bringing on board two new distributors from Thailand and Vietnam, strengthening its strategic presence in these two important growth markets.

SP Vision Technology Co. Ltd of Samutprakarn, Thailand, specializes in powerful solutions for automated visual inspection and innovative robot control systems in the machine vision environment. This medium-sized company offers numerous machine vision technologies for a variety of applications and industries.

RTC Technology Viet Nam Joint Stock Company, headquartered in Hanoi, Vietnam, supplies comprehensive machine vision solutions, including expert consulting services for production companies and system integrators. The company’s service portfolio includes automation technologies such as embedded systems, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and robotics applications.

“We are pleased to welcome two important new partners to our global distribution network. Both are established companies with a solid portfolio of machine vision solutions. This will take our sales activities in Southeast Asia to a whole new level and strengthen our presence in the major growth markets of Thailand and Vietnam,” said Martin Krumey, Vice President of Sales at MVTec.

 

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Renishaw Shares Outlook On Vietnam And Philippines

Renishaw Shares Outlook On Vietnam And Philippines

In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News, Steve Bell of Renishaw Singapore provides his insights into and outlook for the Vietnam and Philippine metalworking industry.

Steve Bell is the general manager for ASEAN at Renishaw (Singapore) Pte Ltd. In this interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN), we talk about Renishaw’s activities, and his outlook on the metalworking industry markets of Vietnam and the Philippines.

FOR THOSE WHO ARE NEW TO THIS INDUSTRY, GIVE US A BRIEF BACKGROUND ON RENISHAW.

Steve Bell (SB): Renishaw is a long-established UK company. Our core activities primarily involve inspection and manufacturing process control. We have many solutions and technologies which help to apply high levels of automation and connectivity to fit any manufacturing process. This in turn boosts the efficiency and quality of manufacturing. These include probes used to set up and inspect parts on machine tools, tool setters and advanced 5 axis probing systems designed to check dimensions of components on CMMs.

Our machine tool systems centre on methodologies to implement in-process control with the aim of increasing throughput and improving quality. We branch into other essential areas like calibration—we have many products connected with machine setup, because unless the machines are set up properly, no matter what you do, you will never make the products right. Our calibration products include the XK10 alignment laser used during machine build, the XL80 calibration laser system and the popular QC20W ball-bar employed to do regular health checks on machine performance.

Moving on, we have the Equator automated measuring gauge, which has been designed for use in a production environment. It is used for immediate checking of parts coming off a machine tool as an alternative to manual or custom gauging. Intelligent Process Control (IPC) allows Equator to inspect a part, gather data from the inspection and use that data to update the tool offsets on the machine tool controller to ensure that future parts stay in tolerance. That’s a very efficient way to manufacture, where you are not waiting for the end of the process to find out that something’s wrong; you are making sure parts stay correct all the way through the process.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TRENDS YOU ARE SEEING?

SB: Basically, everyone wants to make the best products as quickly as possible and as cost effectively as possible. That’s what’s driving the trends in the first place. And one of the significant trends that we are seeing is the drive towards automation. And the reason for automation, from a Renishaw point of view, is its main benefit—consistency of manufacturing.

Deploying automation, systems are programmed in advance, meaning intervention and the possibility of human error is minimised or eliminated.

So, for us, automation is about increasing throughput, but also getting that consistency, which in turn, leads to quality.

WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN THE VIETNAM MARKET?

SB: The biggest challenge for the moment for us is that the market, after many years of being very buoyant, is now a little bit flat. A lot of this, I think, comes from international trade tensions; hopefully that is a relatively short-term problem, and things will get back on track.

But I think the longer-term prognosis is very good. We are going to see substantial growth here, particularly with a lot of manufacturing not necessarily moving out of China, but expanding beyond China, to Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.

WHAT ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES?

SB: We’ve been active in the Philippines for many years. In particularly, we’ve worked with MESCO, our distributor, for 20-plus years. Frankly speaking, in terms of Southeast Asia, the Philippine market for manufacturing and automation is starting from a fairly low base point compared to, let’s say, Thailand, or some other Southeast Asian countries. But having said that, it is also the fastest growing market in the region from that low base. So, for us, it is an important market to be involved with now, and to start to work with in the future as well.

In the Philippines, what we see are manufacturers of consumer goods arriving—a couple of big brands are already active here in the Philippines—we also see a growing market for automotive subcontractors; so those kinds of companies are interested to streamline their manufacturing, improve quality—the kind of things that we bring through our gauging  and in-process products.

Regarding challenges, there have been quite a few over the years in the Philippines where the market has been very flat. But as I said, at this point in time, it is definitely a growing market. We can see a big potential for growth. There are manufacturing investments coming in from Europe, the United States, other parts of Asia, and very often, when these companies are investing and setting up new plants, they are starting from a greenfield site—they are not inheriting previous manufacturing systems. So, because of that, when they do come in, they start at the current level of technology—moving straight into the best practices of manufacturing today, utilising automation, making use of all the latest technologies that are available to them. For us, that’s very exciting.

HOW IS THE MARKET FOR 3D PRINTING OR ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING?

SB: That’s also a growing market from small beginnings in ASEAN. Singapore is definitely the leader in this technology for now.

Metal AM is very much a niche market at the moment in the Philippines. We hope to see some growth in the longer term.

The real growth in additive manufacturing will come when users start to think about using the technology for real production—not just design prototypes or research but manufacturing parts on a 24/7 basis—and we’re already seeing that now with some customers in Singapore. That trend is likely to spread out across Asia. In Singapore in particular, we are seeing opportunities in the oil and gas and aerospace sectors.

WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE INDUSTRY? ARE YOU SEEING A BREAKTHROUGH APPLICATION OR TREND THAT WILL DRIVE THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY FURTHER?

SB: Everyone is driving for the same kind of goals, and I think the key thing that is changing is the push towards automation. Automation means, of course, manufacturing process automation but it also encompasses the associated innovations in collecting and managing actionable data about equipment and devices, processes and parts… all of these contribute towards the smart factory/smart manufacturing concept.

That’s probably the number one trend—automation making possible a drive towards advances in consistency, throughput, product quality and cost-effective manufacturing.

 

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Universal Robots Future-Proofs Production Processes In Southeast Asia With Collaborative Robots

Universal Robots Future-Proofs Production Processes In Southeast Asia With Collaborative Robots

Universal Robots (UR) has helped Vietnam-based Vinacomin Motor Industry Joint Stock Company (VMIC) – a subsidiary of the Vinacomin Group,  future-proof its production processes with cobots. VMIC, one of the first state-owned manufacturers to deploy cobots, has seen productivity increase two to three times, with improved product quality, leading to a 50 to 60 percent rise in orders.

VMIC deployed two UR10 cobots to undertake
two tasks; pick and place and machine tending

Mr Darrell Adams, Head of Southeast Asia & Oceania, Universal Robots said, “Cobots continue to offer businesses in Southeast Asia vast benefits to transform their manufacturing processes and remain competitive. VMIC is exemplary of this, automating its once heavily-reliant manual processes and now boasting high productivity and better output quality.

“UR is at the forefront of cobot technology, helping businesses like VMIC accelerate the transition to smarter production and sustainable growth. We are seeing greater cobot technology adoption in the region as companies realise the immense potential of automation. Beyond the mining industry, cobots are deployed in sectors such as automotive, electronics, textile, pharmaceuticals, footwear and food processing industries,” he added.

Growing Adoption Of Robotics In Southeast Asia

Robot adoption is increasing in the region. According to the International Federation of Robotics, Asia is the largest industrial robot market, with over 280,000 units installed last year. While Southeast Asia makes up a small share of that total, the region has steadily seen an increase in installed robots annually.  Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia are ranked among the 30 largest markets in 2018 with a total of 87,100 operational robots. The electronics and automotive industries remain the largest robot users in the region.

Singapore claimed the highest robot density globally in 2018 with 831 robots per 10,000 workers, followed by Malaysia and Thailand with 52 and 51 units each. Digitalisation and greater automation in industrial production is expected to drive robot installations. Countries such as Malaysia and Thailand are expected to see an average annual growth rate of five to 15 percent from 2020 to 2022. The automation and control market in Vietnam is estimated to be worth US$184.5million by 2021 according to Frost and Sullivan.

UR10 Cobots Implemented At VMIC

Manual processes dominated work at VMIC, which manufactures parts for mining vehicles. This reliance on physical labour resulted in low productivity and inconsistent quality. Customer numbers and orders were low, affecting workers’ income. Realising that it was imperative to embrace automation, the company deployed two UR10 cobots to undertake two tasks; pick and place and machine tending.

VMIC reached out to local automation systems integrator Vnstar Automation JSC (Vnstar) – a partner of Servo Dynamics Engineering (Servo), a UR distributor in Vietnam – to automate its processes.

 

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TRUMPF Discusses Opportunities For Growth In Vietnam

TRUMPF Discusses Opportunities For Growth In Vietnam

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

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE YOU SEEING IN VIETNAM?

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

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

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

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

ARE YOU SEEING ANY CHALLENGES IN THE MARKET?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Check out these articles:

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

Market Outlook 2019: An Insight Into This Year’s Industry Megatrends

Trumpf Steps Up Expansion Of Smart Factory Solutions

 

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VinFast Deploys Siemens’ Full Portfolio To Deliver Cars Ahead Of Schedule

VinFast Deploys Siemens’ Full Portfolio To Deliver Cars Ahead Of Schedule

VinFast, Vietnam’s first volume car manufacturer, has successfully produced its first cars ahead of schedule using Siemens’ portfolio of integrated software and hardware. By deploying its portfolio, Siemens helped VinFast achieve its automotive production timeline for building the factory, car design and start of the production in only 21 months, well ahead of an already ambitious schedule. This is half of the average time to build such a manufacturing plant. The VinFast plant in Hai Phong went live in June 2019 and has a total design capacity of 250,000 cars per year. The first vehicles have been E-Scooters, compact cars, sedans, and SUVs. These will be followed by battery electric passenger cars as well as electric buses.

The entire value chain has been integrated and digitalised with Siemens’ Digital Enterprise portfolio, which includes the Xcelerator portfolio of software and Totally Integrated Automation (TIA). Xcelerator enables creation of the most accurate digital twin, melding model-based simulations with test data and real performance analytics with intelligent edge control. VinFast is using Teamcenter software as backbone of collaboration for product lifecycle management and NX software, a leading integrated solution for computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering (CAD/CAM/CAE), to develop the digital twin of cars and production. Teamcenter connects the digital twin with a consistent digital thread, which is helping VinFast increase speed and flexibility in development, optimise manufacturing processes and use the insights gained from product and plant operations to improve future performance. VinFast has also implemented Siemens Opcenter software (formerly Simatic IT Unified Architecture) to increase production speed and quality. This MES solution supports closed-loop manufacturing by driving real-time production data to the digital twin of product and enables innovation of product design and production operations.

Automation is realised by the modular and flexible automation concept Totally Integrated Automation (TIA), that controls and drives all productions. VinFast deployed Siemens’ automation equipment for its manufacturing lines in all shops: press shop, paint shop, body shop, assembly shop, sub-assembly- and engine shop. Simatic Controllers enable VinFast to automate factory operations such as robots or conveyor lines, including safety functionality. VinFast uses the engineering framework TIA Portal to program automation tasks from the press shop through to the final assembly. Simatic HMI’s are widely used in the factory, allowing VinFast to operate and observe the status of machines and entire systems for the production staff. Using Siemens’ Industrial Identification products, VinFast can track and trace parts and optimise the entire flow of materials. In addition, Sinumerik controls guarantee highest efficiency and quality in their powertrain machinery. Further portfolio provided by Siemens features network components, power supplies, control products, low voltage distribution and switchgears, an energy distribution system as well as motors and drives. The comprehensive automation components from Siemens enable VinFast to build up the factory with high quality of global standards.

“VinFast and their new production site are a great example of how the automotive industry is driving the digital transformation of manufacturing,” says Bernd Mangler, Senior Vice President Automotive Solutions at Siemens Digital Industries. “We are proud that we contributed with our offerings to create the virtual and real production lines including the technology for continuous optimisations along the entire lifecycle of the equipment – and of course, all had to happen in record speed.”

 

Further reading:

Vietnam To Remove Import Tax For Auto Materials
Agathon Showcases Its Innovations For Tool And Mould In EMO 2019
Blum-Novotest To Highlight Measuring, Testing Technology at EMO 2019
Volkswagen Group To Invest €34 Billion By 2022 To “Reinvent The Car”

 

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