Sheet metal industry China: Development and prospect of sheet metal production industry

Author / Editor: Mr. Zhangjin, the secretary general of Confederation of Chinese Metal forming Industry / Susanne Hertenberger

In today's society and among people's lives, it is not exaggerated to say that sheet metal products exist everywhere and they have been widely used in such fields as aviation, marine, rail transportation, automobile, computer, communication equipment, medical equipment, building decoration and instrumentation.

Mr. Zhangjin, the secretary general of Confederation of Chinese Metal forming Industry
Mr. Zhangjin, the secretary general of Confederation of Chinese Metal forming Industry
(Bild: Zhangjin)

At present, the sheet metal production technology is a solid modern and high-tech forming industry with CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) sheet metal production equipment taken as its core and equipped with tooling, molds and fixtures, etc. Its main equipment comprises CNC punching machine, laser cutting machine and CNC bending machine, etc. Advances in information technology play a leading role in the automation and intelligent manufacturing process.

Industry development

At present, the industry of sheet metal production is growing steadily. According to the statistics and calculations of China Forging Association, there have been 2.50 million employees in the industry of sheet metal production, a total sales volume about RMB 680 billion and the companies with more than 50 employees have reached 25000 by the end of 2012. In 2013, the sales volume reached about RMB700 billion and about RMB 750 billion in 2014.

Existing problems

Laser cutting is one of the mainstream equipment of sheet metal equipment. Despite that great successes have been achieved in domestic main machine of laser cutting machine, yet, almost all of lasers need to be imported from abroad. Laser cutting heads and other key components of some enterprises are also imported from abroad. Bending machine is another kind of key equipment in the industry of sheet metal production. At present, ordinary low grade bending machines can almost be domestically made, yet, the studies of self adaptive design featured with bending and spring-back capability and automatic bending supporting devices are still at initial stages and there is relatively big gap if compared with foreign counterparts. In another word, it is difficult to compare with the similar equipment in foreign countries as there are also many problems in such aspects as CNC punching machine cutter head, speed and equipment stability.

Digital, unmanned operation of sheet metal production lines and workshops are more popular in foreign countries. In contrast, some of domestic enterprises are equipped with foreign equipment, along with the introduction of some production lines, but it is still in the exploratory stage. There are very few of unmanned workshops of sheet metal production and online production units featured with the assembly of sheet metal production and parts at home. Even if there are some these units, the equipment and technology are all from overseas. What needs to be specified here is that the industry of our sheet metal production has not yet formed a strong concept characterized by the integration of material—sheet metal production—online assembly on the basis of digitalization.

Ways to solution

Some problems exist in the industry of our sheet metal production from industrial culture to enterprise management. In this case, how to effectively promote the solution of these problems must be given enough attention by the industry. If we are not able to find effective and practical solutions, it will be difficult to get effective control of such prominent problems as isolations between enterprises in the industry, parochial arrogance, overcapacity, malignant price competition and low efficiency and benefits. We should actively promote the construction of enterprise culture and industrial culture, establish an idea of open exchange and win-win situation, maintain the integrity of spending costs and enable the integrity to become an important soft power of every enterprise. Government and industry association should strengthen the formulation of enterprise level standards and vigorously promote the industry communication.