AMB 2018, held in Stuttgart, Germany from 18-22 September, is one of the largest trade shows for metalworking technology. IHS Markit attended the show and gained critical insights into the latest trends and market developments in the manufacturing industry. The digitalisation of machine tools for the future was the central theme of the show, which was attended by 91,016 visitors. 1,553 exhibitors presented their product offerings in the area of machine tools for metal working applications.
General industry outlook remained positive
The IHS Markit outlook for global economic activity is that improvement is slow; global recovery remains persistently elusive following the great recession of 2007-2008. IHS Markit forecasts that the global machinery production revenues will grow 3.2% in 2018 as a result of broad-based improvements in most industries, alongside better GDP and PMI performance veering into positive growth territory. The machine tool sector picked up after a slowdown in 2016 to grow 5.5% in terms of revenue in 2017. IHS Markit forecasts the machine tool sector to further expand by 6.6% in 2018. The feedback from exhibitors is in line with IHS Markit’s forecast, and there is a sense of positivity regarding the short-term outlook for the industry.
Digital trends from machine tools industry
The importance of having a common connectivity interface has increased since the advent of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and there was a need felt within the machine tool builders to overcome the barrier of proprietary protocols. Owing to this need, VDW, along with 17 partners, developed umati (universal machine tool interface), an open platform enabling the machine tools and peripherals to connect with IT ecosystems. It was launched last year at EMO Hannover, and some partner companies showcased their solutions based on this platform.
DMG Mori, one of the leading machine builders, demonstrated digital service solutions for maintenance and service through their recently acquired platform WERKBLiQ. It is a manufacture-independent platform and is already available as an app on the DMG Mori machines with CELOS V5.0. Another exciting development was the introduction of an IoT connector kit that can be retrofitted to the older machines. Mazak, a leading machine builder showcased its iSmart factory solution, which is based on the MT Connect open platform and can bring all the machines on one network. In case, a need arises for sensor level data; Sensor Box can collect and then transfer the data into the MT Connect format.
PaaS (product as a service) is paving its path into the machine tool industry as companies are looking to rent out their machines on a usage basis. For instance, Weisser, a German machine builder is renting out a machine for 34 cents/minute.
Digitalization is making quick inroads into the metalworking industry, just like other facets of the manufacturing industry, and machine builders are trying to make the most of this opportunity by introducing their IIoT-ready solutions. In addition to the leading machine vendors, small-to-medium sized players are also in contention to push their connected solutions. Due to the nature of this industry, IHS Markit believes it will still take a couple of years for such solutions to be adopted completely. However, the adoption is likely to occur at a pace much faster than previously anticipated.