Metalworking at its Best

Hannover will host EMO, the world leading trade fair of the sector, from September 18 – 23. IEN Europe interviewed Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) about the show.

  • Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director VDW
    Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director VDW
  • Metalworking at its Best
    Metalworking at its Best
  • Metalworking at its Best
    Metalworking at its Best

IEN Europe: End of September, the next EMO will take place in Hanover. The event raises the claim to show the full world of metalworking. What could a potential visitor expect to find at the show?

Dr. Schäfer: The EMO Hannover will be showcasing the entire spectrum of modern-day metalworking technology, from the very latest machines and efficient technical solutions, backed up by product-supportive services, all the way through to sustainability in production operations. Affordable standard machines for price-sensitive markets will be on show, as will machines for tool and die production that integrate additional processes from the field of additive manufacturing. New customer requirements for haptically specialised surfaces are met using laser or ultrasonic systems for surface structuring. Then, for example, there will be productive multi-purpose and specialised machines for extremely stringent qualitative stipulations in large-series and mass production. Other keynote issues addressed at the EMO Hannover 2017 will of course include Industry 4.0 and digitisation.

IEN Europe: In 2017 and 2019, the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) will be responsible for the show events in Hanover; in 2021, the show will be organised in Milan by UCIMU, the Italian sister association. A quite unusual solution: how do exhibitors and visitors benefit from this somewhat out-of-the-ordinary venue arrangement in your opinion?

Dr. Schäfer: The national associations VDW and UCIMO will each be hosting their own EMO fair on behalf of the European umbrella organisation CECIMO. The alternation between Germany and Italy offers exhibitors and visitors alike an opportunity to be physically present at what are traditionally two of the strongest European locations for manufacturers of machine tools. What’s more, Italy also ranks among the biggest consumer markets in Europe.

IEN Europe: A fair the size of the EMO has to have an international approach on both sides, exhibitors and visitors. What is the distribution by countries like from your experience?

Dr. Schäfer: From Europe itself, the major exhibitor groupings are from Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Asia is predominantly represented by Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese vendors. The USA also accounts for an appreciable contingent of exhibitors. On the basis of our experience from previous fairs, we are expecting about 60 per cent of the visitors to come from the host country, and 40 per cent from abroad. This latter category is dominated by EU nations and Asia.

IEN Europe: German machine tool builders are facing the future quite optimistically at the moment. What is the Europe-wide outlook on the economic development of this industrial sector?

Dr. Schäfer: The European machine tool industry is benefiting overall from a brighter situation for the global economy. For 2017, worldwide social product is forecast to grow by 2.6 per cent. This will have a beneficial effect on industrial production output, which is set to increase by 3.1 per cent, with a concomitant rise of 3.2 per cent in machine tool consumption. The biggest growth here will come from Europe, with 4.0 per cent. Stable drivers continue to be the Southern European nations of Italy and Spain, as well as France.  Asia is also increasing its consumption of machine tools, which is predicted to rise by 3.5 per cent in 2017.  There’s good news from China for Europe’s export-driven machine tool manufacturers. This market has overcome its lean period, and is expected to up its machine tool consumption by 3.9 per cent. Other export regions are also showing modest improvements.

IEN Europe: The EMO 2017 slogan is “Connecting systems for intelligent production”. That reflects the Industry 4.0 concept. What are you doing to highlight this? And do you already have a feedback from exhibitors what kind of innovations with this focus they want to present?

Dr. Schäfer: The EMO Hannover is devoting multifaceted coverage to networked, intelligent production, with the industry 4.0 area, for example. In this special show, representatives of the industrial sector from all specialisms will be showcasing their solutions from shop-floor reality, which is also the conceptual underpinning for the accompanying presentation forum. Research institutes belonging to the German Academic Society for Production Engineering (WGP) will be offering insights into the latest technical advances and research results. The spectrum here is wide and varied, which likewise applies to the Industry 4.0 solutions from individual manufacturers, exemplified by: new methods for intelligent tool management with direct transfer of tool data to the machine, feedback of offline measured data for self-regulating optimised process control of tool grinding, sensor and software systems for simpler, control-system-independent machine monitoring, approaches for mastering data transmission and data security, assistant systems for upgrading productivity through cooperative networking of machines and ERP systems, business platforms for holistic production organisation based on real-time data, communication environments for transparent, independent, open and at the same time secure interchange of data along the entire value added chain or apps for individually configurable control systems for improved operator control and expanded connectivity.

IEN Europe: Another relatively new area in metal-working, if you are looking at the shop floor, is additive manufacturing. What can the visitor expect to see at the show?

Dr. Schäfer: At the fair, all manufacturers of powder-based processes will be represented, plus vendors of hybrid systems for metal-cutting and additive manufacturing. What’s more, the EMO Hannover is devoting part of its programme to this particular specialism:  two half-day conferences will be intensively dedicated to the topic of additive manufacturing.

IEN Europe: At the end of this interview, do you have a special tip for the visitors which area they should definitely not miss before leaving the fair?

Dr. Schäfer: This, of course, will always depend on the sector of the visitor concerned. The EMO Hannover sees its role as a platform for innovations, with exhibitors showcasing superb production technology for all user categories. The supporting programme also offers new and stimulating insights. It’s not only the industry 4.0 area I’ve already mentioned that will be showcasing the very latest developments and trends, from the machine to the cloud; innovation will likewise continue to play a crucial role in the traditional production-related issues – and fit-for-purpose projects and solutions will constitute a primary focus for the WGP’s event themed around Production for Tomorrow. The VDW will also be hosting a symposium on occupational safety, which is always a topical issue. The EMO India Day spotlights one of the world’s most dynamic markets for machine tools.