ISTMA World Europe: Toolmakers need to embrace digital technology

Author / Editor: Rosemarie Stahl / Rosemarie Stahl

At the recently held ISTMA General Assembly in Brazil, Bob Williamson was elected President for the next three-year period. Williamson is the representative of TASA (Toolmaking Association of South Africa) at the International Special Tooling and Machining Association.

“Tooling systems must never be regarded as a commodity but rather as a highly subjective and critically important part of the manufacturing process.” Bob Williamson, President of ISTMA World.
“Tooling systems must never be regarded as a commodity but rather as a highly subjective and critically important part of the manufacturing process.” Bob Williamson, President of ISTMA World.
(Source: Stahl)

Bob Williamson was elected as the successor of Dave Tilstone, who had been President since 2014. In our interview, Bob Williamson speaks about his goals for the next three years and he reveals what European toolmakers should do to remain successful in future.

Congratulations on your election as President of ISTMA World! How does it feel to take over this position?

Being elected as the President of ISTMA World is not only an honour and privilege but an acknowledgement by the International Tooling Industry of the pioneering work done by the South African Tooling Initiative and the team that pulled it together.

What are your plans for the next three years? Is there something you want to achieve by 2020?

It’s important that we extend our position as the centre of expertise of the worldwide tooling industry and drive the application of Industry 4.0. During the next three years, we have planned a clearly defined schedule of networking reunions, the maintenance of our source of statistical and technical information for the worldwide industry, the promotion of regional grouping, increased membership, to develop an innovative approach to providing members with an attractive and sustainable value proposition, to establish a strong and vibrant corporate image to support and promote the ISTMA World brand, and the further development of strong and financially viable ‘Global Partnerships’.

Where do you see the main task of a world association like ISTMA?

Our mission to help national industry associations and their members’ companies achieve business success in the global economy through advocacy, networking, information, programmes and services is as valid today as it was 44 years ago when ISTMA was established.

You come from South Africa, a country that is mainly member of ISTMA Europe because of the shared time zone. What can European tool makers learn from Southern African toolmakers?

The recognition by our government and all key industry sectors of the strategic importance of a strong and vibrant tooling Industry towards the development and maintenance of a manufacturing economy along with the need for talent driven innovation is without doubt the building block that has led to the success of the internationally recognised South African National Tooling Initiative.

Where do you see the future of toolmaking? Are there any trends that will have an influence on toolmakers all over the world?

It is of paramount importance that tooling systems manufacturers fully embrace digital technology from an ownership perspective, whether it be for design, advanced machining or additive manufacture. It would be a fatal mistake to allow dependency on the information technology industry for know-how.

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