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    Switzerland and Germany to drive digitisation forward together

    VPT and VDW cooperate on international standard for the exchange of machine information.

    08 Jan. 2019
    Schweiz und Deutschland umati
    The Swiss VPT and the German VDW will work together in the future to standardise the exchange of information with production machines.

    The Swiss VPT (Association for Applied Production Technology) and the German VDW (German Machine Tool Builders' Association) will work together in the future to standardise the exchange of information with production machines. This was announced by the two associations in the run-up to the Industrialis trade fair. A corresponding declaration was signed on 06 December 2018.

    "VPT unites machine manufacturers and operators in its ranks, who are both very interested in a simple exchange of information between machines and higher-level IT systems," says Dr. Jürg Krebser, President of VPT. They need the machine information to optimise their products and production processes. "Manufacturer-specific data formats should not make access to this information difficult," continues Krebser.

    This has prompted VPT to launch the ProdNet programme in 2016. Within the scope of its activities, it intends to develop cross-industry solutions for the use of digitisation possibilities and has already carried out conceptual preparatory work as well as creating concrete foundations in a number of key areas.

    To solve this task, the VDW, together with eight machine tool manufacturers, developed umati (universal machine tool interface) and presented it as a prototype in Stuttgart in September 2018. Two Swiss companies are also involved in the project group. Andreas Rauch, Head of Digital Business at GF Machining Solutions, says: "Thanks to the open cooperation, the topic-specific preparatory work of the ProdNet consortium can be incorporated into the VDW standardisation project. In addition, ProdNet contributes its dense member network, which can check the umati interface at an early stage and thus identify risks."

    Both initiatives enable a quick achievement of the common goals. With their contribution, the participating companies can not only help to shape machine digitisation, but also secure access to technological competence at the forefront.

    Other associations under the umbrella of the VDMA (Mechanical Engineering Industry Association) do comparable work in their respective sectors. This is where the VDW comes in to make umati usable for other branches of mechanical engineering.

    "It is thanks to the initiatives in Germany and Switzerland that machine manufacturers are working together at this level of operational intensity for the first time. This is a cultural change. The impetus from this should be used to intensify cooperation across national borders and also to involve customers in the design of the new forms of cooperation," adds Lorenz Zellweger, initiator and branch manager of VPT.

    Background

    The Association for Applied Production Technology (VPT) is an association of Swiss machine manufacturers and operators from various industries. With the ProdNet programme, the VPT wants to compile industry-spreading solutions for the use of the digitisation possibilities. ProdNet has carried out conceptual preliminary work and created concrete bases in some key topics.

    The VDW represents the German machine tool industry in personal union with the VDMA Machine Tool and Manufacturing Systems Association. In 2017, it launched an "Industry initiative for the connectivity of machine tools for industry 4.0". In the associated working group, eight leading German machine tool manufacturers are working on the common interface umati. The OPC UA-Companion Specification is to be completed by EMO Hannover 2019.