EMO 2017, held in Hannover, Germany from 16-21 September, is one of the largest trade shows for metalworking technology. IHS Markit attended the show and gained key insights into the latest trends and market developments in the manufacturing industry.
General industry outlook remained positive
In summary, 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 2.2% in the second half of 2017 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 is forecast to grow at a steady pace in Asia-Pacific, while slight recovery is projected in Europe. The outlook for the Americas looks weaker and is forecast to contract before recovering later this year. The feedback from exhibitors seems to be in line with IHS Markit’s forecast, and there is a positive vibe regarding the short-term outlook for the industry.
Industry 4.0: from a concept to reality
Industry 4.0 remained the most widely discussed topic and echoed the motto of the show – Connecting systems for intelligent production. Smart systems with cloud-based machine monitoring, open IIoT platforms, augmented reality for machinery maintenance, new business models and simulation-based software remained a focus. All the stakeholders in the supply chain of manufacturing industry seem to have products focused on IIoT depicting a growing interest in the topic.
Open IIoT platforms on the offer
Cloud-based open IIoT platforms remained on the upsurge within the automation solution vendors as well as machine builders. The solutions presented by leading machine builders included Field System from FANUC, Connect by Kuka, i-Smart Factory by Mazak, ADAMOS by DMG-Mori, Smart Factory Solutions by Okuma whereas the most notable solutions by automation vendors included Mind Sphere by Siemens and e-factory concept by Mitsubishi.
Some of the main capabilities of these systems are:
- Data accumulation, analysis and visualization
- Predictive maintenance
- Secure connectivity
- Open source system supporting third-party applications
- Mobile access
Artificial Intelligence in Robotics: The game changer?
Robotics has remained one of the fastest growing sectors of the manufacturing industry in the past couple of years. Robot manufacturing companies are striving to introduce cost-effective solutions to create a competitive advantage to the ever-increasing demands on production assemblies. One such example is the machine learning demo by FANUC: a CR-7iA robot using a machine learning algorithm presents a workpiece to a camera in multiple orientations and decisions are made based on the processed images. It is too early to comment on the cost-effectiveness of such solutions, but it is evident that if implemented correctly, such systems would revolutionize the manufacturing landscape.