Machine tools “It is time for a rethink!”
Every two years, the Korean machine manufacturer Doosan Machine Tools puts on the DIMF – Doosan International Machine Tools Fair. Customers and partners from all over the world are the first to see the firm’s innovations.
As a relatively young firm, Doosan Machine Tools looks back on a history which, although not all too long, is indeed successful. With more than 200,000 machines sold so far, with more than 350 machines in its portfolio, and represented by 167 dealers in a worldwide network, Doosan is becoming established as a global player. How this took place, and what wishes for the future are still open, are explained by Henry Kim, CEO Europe, and Jeongjin Kim, Senior Vice President Development Center, who spoke to MM Maschinenmarkt.
Doosan has been organising the DIMF since 1997. How did this come about?
H. Kim: In economic terms, that was a very difficult time. Like other states, South Korea found itself in the middle of the Asian crisis. As a “late arrival” in the sector, we had just developed a new product range and wanted to make it accessible to the market and our customers. Out of this arose the idea, and also the realisation, of the first DIMF, which was so successful that since then it has taken place every two years.
What insights did you gain from this development?
J. Kim: That the needs of the customer have to take first place – which is confirmed by the success of the first DIMF and the positive resonance among customers. Our efforts therefore go into an ever better understanding of customers’ needs and applying this to the development of our products and technologies. The DIMF is the perfect event for entering into direct dialogue with customers. As a result of this development, Doosan Machine Tools was able to grow significantly and establish the DIMF as a fair creating value for all sides.
More than 20 years have passed since the first DIMF. How would you describe the development of Doosan during this time?
J. Kim: At the beginning, we focused on standard products and established a customer base, particularly with smaller manufacturers of automobile components and standard machine parts. With the development of large and complex machines, customers came to us from the fields of energy, the construction industry, aerospace, medical technology, the semiconductor industry, but also from mould construction. As far as complexity and flexibility are concerned, our products are competitive. In the future, we plan to achieve this competitiveness in the high-end machine field as well.
Today, competitiveness is often tied to the much-discussed term Industry 4.0. Is Industry 4.0 a big topic for Doosan?
H. Kim: Industry 4.0 is of course also for us the key in making complex production systems manageable. In Korea, by the way, we speak about the Smart Factory.
You are already offering corresponding solutions. How smart is your own production?
H. Kim: Our aim is the monitoring and analysis of all products throughout the entire life-cycle – from the order by design and production to the service – in order to eliminate problems before they can even arise. That is how we imagine the smart future. The status quo is that we monitor and analyse the status of our production installations collaboratively in real-time. The next step is for the system to be able to make its own predictive assessments by means of artificial intelligence based on large data quantities.
Besides Industry 4.0, Doosan is busy with automation. What is the current “state of the art” and what will be on show at the EMO Hannover 2019?
J. Kim: We offer a large portfolio of automation solutions. For example, the quick loader with a loading time of 2.9 s for ball races. Our automation system has been developed to raise productivity. In addition, numerous applications are possible, such as gantry and industrial robots, but also robots in driverless transport systems. We furthermore offer a variety of multi-pallet work systems for Doosan processing centres. At the EMO 2019 we are showing ideas for tomorrow’s machining with two processing centres, a mobile robot and a portal loading system.
Complete processing is another topical theme for you ...
J. Kim: The turning and milling of composites, which began on the turning centre, is already old technology. Nevertheless, it was necessary to put gears into a large-format turning centre to raise the torque of the main spindle. In this case, it is a different technological challenge to overcome the inevitable play in the gears driving the C axis. In the new machine model, SMX 5100L, we succeeded in developing a spindle-free C axis which changes the gear chain between turning and milling modes. In the 5-axis machines in the DVF range, turning and milling have been combined in one machine by equipping the rotary table and the main spindle with the turning function – a function which is indispensable in milling gears.
With Cufos, you have developed an intuitive operating surface. What makes it special?
H. Kim: Cufos (customized user friendly flexible operating system) is an open control system by Doosan. Machines equipped with this support multifarious functions, such as systems for collision avoidance, a multi-pallet operating system, or tool management. Currently available for multi-tasking machines, Cufos for 5-axis machines will also soon be on the market.
So user-friendliness is also a topic with Doosan?
H. Kim: If one goes for unnecessarily exaggerated technology, this can often have a negative effect on customers. Doosan therefore focuses on what is practicable from the customer’s point of view. That is also where the strength of Doosan lies, namely in remaining faithful to the basic functions. In addition, our Korean DNA makes itself felt not only in our responsibility towards our products, but also regarding our intensive customer contact.
What role does your Korean sense of responsibility play for Germany?
H. Kim: Doosan has a 35 % share of the Korean market and is among the leading firms, now aiming to become the number 3 globally. In Germany we notice there is still hesitation about choosing Korean machines. At the same time, we also detect a gradual move towards a rethink. The time is ripe for this!
The EMO Hannover 2019 will provide the next platform for this. What can the visitor look forward to there?
J. Kim: We are of course displaying various new machines. What will be interesting for every visitor, however, are the automation solutions. We are waiting eagerly to see the reactions.
Where does Doosan see its place in the future?
H. Kim: In the standard machine segment we have already taken a leading role. Now we are working to make sure that, in future, Doosan also gains relevance in the high-end area.