December 13, 2019
EMO Hannover 2019, the world ’s premier trade fair for the metalworking industry, was held at Hanover Fairground of Lower Saxony in Germany for 6 days from September 16 to 21, 2019. The exhibitors proposed the products for automation and labor saving in the European market, where labor shortages have been getting more serious. The visitors paid atention to cutting-edge technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and metal additive manufacturing (AM).
The reporters of SEISANZAI Japan interviewed the Japanese FA builders at the venue. In this article, we have analyzed what strategies Japanese builders have taken for the European market where labor shortage is severe.
Automation and digitalization are accelerating
There’s too much variety the customers can’t choose
2211 companies from 47 countries and regions took part in EMO Hannover 2019. The exhibition area was about 180,000 square meters, 3.6 times the size of JAPAN INTERNATIONAL MACHINE TOOL FAIR 2018 (JIMTOF2018). EMO is one of the four largest machine tool trade fairs in the world. This exhibition was held in the time when a global economic had been slowdown. The European machine tool market is no exception. According to the announcement of the European Association of the Machine Tool Industry and related Manufacturing Technologies (CECIMO), the orders of members by June 2019 were about 20% lower than the same period last year. There were a lot of exhibits combining machine tools and machine equipments with industrial robots and automation equipment at EMO Hannover 2019. The fact in the background of focusing on proposing the automation is that, there are serious problems of labor shortage in Europe. One of Japanese exhibitors analyzed that European market conditions are not good, but investment in automation facilities is active. In other words, it is not a positive willingness to capital investment, but it seems that it is difficult to make capital investment except for automation.
The labor shortage, especially in the former western countries, has become as serious as other developed countries including Japan. Many exhibitors have proposed automation facilities in conjunction with labor savings by software. The versatility and fluidity of facilities and peripheral equipment have increased. Therefore, when selecting equipment, the users have to indicate what they want to manufacture, and it is necessary to select the most suitable machine tool, cutting tool, related equipment, software and application. However, at this EMO Hannover 2019, a variety of digital tools were proposed by the exhibitors, making it difficult for users to select. Not only machine tool builders and NC builders, but also tool and measuring equipment manufacturers a aspire to a killer application providers and platform providers.
DMG MORI focuses on digitization and automation proposals
DMG MORI used the entire hall 2, focusing on proposals for digitization and automation centering on the 5-axis machining center (MC) and multi-tasking machines. Dr. Masahiko Mori, president said, “How will the world move for 10 years from 2020？Many machines which was introduced more than 20 years ago have been in operation and the amount of carbon dioxide emissions is considerable. The movement to replace old machines into one compact and highly efficient machine tool, such as a 5-axis MC or multi-task machine, will be much stronger. ” The distinctive feature of the DMG MORI exhibition is the digital tools provided by partner companies. TULIP was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, and anyone can easily make a production process. “even if you don’t have any knowledge about programming, you can make a system,” said Dr. Makoto Fujishima, executive director of DMG MORI. The users can make a process management application customized for its company with just an intuitive drag-and-drop operation, and it is easy to connect with peripheral devices such as sensors. Christian Thönes, vice president of DMG MORI affirmed, “the machine tool market is in the serious situation like winter, but it’s not time to wait for the upcoming spring. Now is the time for innovation as the manufacturing industry is in the period of big reform.
Okamoto Machine Tool Works is based on the classic strategy of high accuracy and high efficiency, and focuses on proposals for automation and labor saving. Tsuneyuki Ishii President and CEO pointed out, “what is required in Europe is similar to Japan. There is an idea of good machine that can be expensive”
Norbert Mueller, senior sales manager at the company’s European site, said” European market is slowing down, but Germany is the most down. While orders for automobiles tend to stop, aircraft and medical equipment are strong. There is always a market that has possibility even in the worsening market conditions.”
To promote the digital twin
Japanese manufacturers have a strong presence in automation and labor-saving proposals. Makino Milling Machine exhibited iAssist equipped with a FANUC collaborative robot in its original automated guided vehicle (AGV). The demonstration was conducted in the space assuming a tool room. iAssist avoided people and obstacles, and transported tools and attached the tool holders to machine tools. iAssist mounted communication equipment which responds to the next generation wireless communication standard (5G), jointly developed with Swedish information and communications company called Ericsson. Makino Milling Machine introduced the digital twin effort as the main exhibit at EMO.
When CAD data of a workpiece is registered in the production management system, a machining path is automatically made and machining simulation is performed digitally. The most suitable production plan is calculated by the condition such as lead time and minimization of workpieces waiting for the next step of process, while taking into account the machining status of the entire production line. When the plan is decided, the plan is executed while the machine tool and iAssist are synchronized at 5G under the instruction of the production management system.
President Shinichi Inoue said, “the introduction of digital twin enables automation of managing production processes that have been relied on the intuition of workers at manufacturing site. People can concentrate more on work which only humans can do.”
Yamazaki Mazak announced the concept “Mazak Solution Partners” to strengthen collaboration with robot and software manufacturers. Mazak discloses a connection interface with machine tools to partner companies, making it easy to build automated cells using robots and link data with setup support software using office PCs. The aim is to respond to customer needs such as smart factory that cannot be covered as machine tool builders. Kazuya Horibe executive officer said, “digital twins are not just simulations. It is necessary to work together with robots, software, and machine tools to build a system which automatically compensates for missing points that are difficult to understand by people.”
Source: SEISANZAI MARKETING Magazine November 2019 issue