Germany: Machine Tool Industry Continues to Grow
Technological trends offer opportunities
"2017 is characterized by many challenges that offer opportunities to generate new competitive advantages and expand our portfolio, "Prokop explains. This applies particularly to the area of digitally networked production and the solutions for Industry 4.0. Substantial potential lies in the consistent automation of the entire order process and in the elimination of process faults. High efficiency-increase in the double-digit percentage range is easily conceivable with networked solutions and it helps customers to be ahead of the competition, VDW says. Prerequisite is the acquisition and analysis of machine and process data. "In order to make this possible, we need flexible IT infrastructures from the machine to the cloud, that are affordable even for smaller manufacturing companies," emphasizes Prokop. According to him, there are still hurdles to overcome. These are, among others, unresolved or non-harmonized topics of networking in production, such as standardization of interfaces, data security, data integrity, liability questions, qualification of employees, labor law and the like.
According to VDW, another major factor in the future of the industry is electromobility. How the machine tool industry will be affected is, in the final analysis, still open, since not even the most urgent questions about the amount of pure electric vehicles or the change in the metal cutting rate have been clarified. The fact is that there will be a higher proportion of hybrid vehicles for a longer transitional period. Due to the combination of combustion engines and electric motors, the degree of complexity is expected to still require high chip volumes, according to German manufacturers. However, one thing remains undisputed for VDW: All companies that deliver to the automotive industry must complicitly deal with these issues. "The VDW supports its members and is currently analyzing what developments can be expected in which time periods, in order to provide the basis for a strategic business plan," explains Prokop.
In summary, VDW chairman Heinz-Jürgen Prokop notes that the German machine tool industry is well equipped for the future. It is intensively working to make the world-wide competition weather-proof. The overwhelming majority of German machine tool builders will face the challenges ahead, be represented worldwide with service, sales and production, and will continue to expand their foreign structures. The global tooling needs are increasing, and the German manufacturers are at the forefront, says Prokop. Companies integrate new technologies into their products and develop new solutions. "I am sure that we will continue to play in the front line in the first league," concludes the VDW chairman.
Many ideas and innovations for the production of tomorrow will be shown at EMO Hannover 2017. After a four-year break, the trade fair for metalworking will be held from 18 to 23 September 2017 in Hanover, Germany, under the motto "Connecting systems for intelligent production". Just under three months before the start of the fair, the EMO 2017 has set a record: 1,858 companies from more than 40 countries on almost 158,000 square meters of exhibition space have registered for the event so far.