"Connecting systems for intelligent production" is the motto of the EMO Hannover 2017. The world’s premier trade fair for the metalworking sector will thus, from 18 to 23 September 2017, be intensifying its focus on the mega-trend of digitisation within the context of Industry 4.0. "Entrepreneurs all over the world are progressing the digitisation and networking of their products, their production operations and their logistical chains, because they see this as the next quantum leap forward in development, with concomitant gains in competitiveness," explains the EMO’s General Commissioner Carl Martin Welcker. "As the key technology for industrial production operations, the machine tool and the production process are particularly crucial to the networked factory," he adds, and asks: "Where if not at the EMO Hannover can the international trade public expect an abundance of new solutions designed specifically for their production operations?"
Customers are demanding holistic production and automation solutions
Smaller batch sizes, more complex parts, increased part diversity, and a combination of processes are just some of the ongoing challenges for industrial production operations. Customers need intensive support in ensuring that their machines’ capacities are utilised to maximised efficiency, in optimising the material flow, and in very largely automating the increasingly elaborate administration-related non-productive times, from drawing up quotations to issuing invoices. "These processes are very complex," explains Carl Martin Welcker. But once they’ve been mastered, major gains in productivity lie open to the customers concerned. Rendering these accessible with fit-for-purpose, coherently harmonised options for mid-tier companies as well, that is the current challenge for machine tool manufacturers, he says.
Digitisation is transforming products and production
The focus, then, is on digitised products and processes. It’s not possible to image all processes in their entirety, from online ordering and order handling, manufacture and dispatch. However, the aim is to create a maximally faithful image of the factory’s actuality in real time: what is known as a digital shadow or digital twin. Process knowledge, too, is becoming progressively more digital, and can thus be reproduced and optimised more rapidly. Delivery times are getting shorter, the defect rate is falling. Machine tool manufacturers, and also vendors and users of networked products, are deploying their corporate expertise to ensure the success of this development thrust.
Networking the value creation chain is the next step
Further progress is being driven by complete-coverage networking of the value creation chain. This includes the companies’ own agents, subsidiaries, vendors and customers. Cross-company network thinking utilises resources and intelligence from all parts of the corporate matrix. This necessitates openness in terms of both systems and thinking. Comprehensive IT expertise is taking hold in the machine tool industry.
Networked knowledge – increased focus on service capabilities
New solutions and business models with high customer benefits can emerge from the digitisation of products and processes. And new vendors can enter the market. Services, consultancy and customer support from the machine tool manufacturers are gaining in perceived importance, and will secure a competitive lead in the years ahead as well, since their share of total turnover is rising.
"Users want holistic solutions that can be coherently imaged in a single system. These require thorough comprehension firstly of the processes in place at our customers’ facilities, which can be highly disparate, and secondly of the complex technologies featured in our machines," is how Carl Martin Welcker describes the ongoing discussion. Where the individual vendors currently stand in this process and which of them have their noses in front, this will be revealed at the 2017 EMO Hannover. "It’s the international shop window for production technology, and the best platform for users to find solutions for their increasingly multifaceted requirements. In 2017, the EMO Hannover will once again be the meeting point for the global world of the machine tool industry," to quote the EMO’s General Commissioner.