EMO Hannover Machine Tool roundtable

Features - emo hannover

Leaders from top machine tool manufacturers discuss the future of the automotive industry, the industrial economy, machine connectivity, and other trends at the EMO forum hosted by Kennametal.

December 6, 2017

Hardinge Grinding Vice President and Kellenberger Grinding Machines CEO Urs Baumgartner (left), Fives Machining Systems Inc. President and CEO Steven Thiry, Index Corp. President and CEO Tom Clark, DMG MORI Executive Board Member Björn Biermann, and Mitsui Seiki USA CEO Robb Hudson (right).

During the EMO Hannover 2017 trade show – an event that drew more than 2,200 manufacturing technology exhibitors and 130,000 attendees – Kennametal and GIE Media, parent company of Today’s Motor Vehicles, gathered leaders of machine tool companies to discuss 2018’s outlook, Industry 4.0, and tightening tolerances for components.


While aerospace gets a lot of attention from machine makers, questions about the future of the auto industry will have a bigger impact on the future, builders say.

“Globally, 1.5% to 1.7% of machine tools are used in aerospace. It’s a great market, but it’s not a big one.

It’s much more interesting what happens with the automotive industry. Will the future generation want to own a car? That is the crucial question for our future volume, not aerospace.”

Starrag Group Vice Chairman Frank Brinken, www.starrag.com

Changes to the global economy have caused great concern in early 2017, but many of those worries have eased in recent months.

Mazak Corp. (www.mazakusa.com) Chairman Brian Papke says President Donald Trump introduced lots of uncertainty into the market in early 2017 as global leaders assessed how his America First policies would impact trade barriers, immigration, defense spending, and other topics.

“His bite is sometimes a little softer than his bark. And I think we’re coming to realize this.”

DMG MORI (www.dmgmori.com) Executive Board Member Björn Biermann adds that the European market looks healthier than it did at the beginning of the year. With nationalist political wins in Great Britain, there had been some fear that elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany would bring anti-trade policies to the mainstream, but more centrist candidates won each of those elections.

“There was a risk that the European Union itself would break up, and this would have a negative impact for customer demand for the whole European Union. But currently, there’s no concern that the European Union market won’t be stable.”

Index Corp. (www.indextraub.com) President and CEO Tom Clark says the increase in global stability is leading to industrial confidence.

“When you look at our customers deciding on buying an expensive piece of machinery, they need to have the confidence three and five years from now that they can fill that machine. What we’ve seen over the last six months is a renewed confidence that there’s going to be a business-friendly climate going forward.”

What global trends are shaping 2018’s outlook?

“I think we will see good business in terms of euros or dollars, but when we count the number of new spindles in the next few years, I think we will see a tremendous drop.

We have all told the world that we sell flexible equipment, and with the product changes ahead of them and the uncertainty of what’s coming, they will reuse and redeploy existing spindles.

There will be a lot of work in engineering and applications, but not for our companies to build new machines.”

—Heller Group COO Manfred Maier, www.heller-us.com
Responding to Maier’s comments:

“Many of our machine tools that were put into the market 10 or 12 years ago, we are repurposing with newer technology to where their output is 15% to 20% more than when they were new. That’s a very different change in the industry compared to many years ago, when you rebuilt a piece of equipment, you brought it back to new. Today, we bring it back to beyond new because of new technologies.”

Fives Machining Systems Inc. President and CEO Steven Thiry, www.fivesgroup.com

Connected manufacturing

EMO Hannover is a showplace for Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), but few of those ideas are new to the automotive industry.

WFL Millturn Technologies (www.wfl.at/en) Board of Management Member Guenter Mayr says, “About 10 years ago, one of our customers realized that an important hole was missing from an engine. They went to the Internet, stopped the cars with an emergency alert, and told the plant the finished cars had to go to the repair shop.

This isn’t necessarily new.”

Others, however, noted that companies smaller than international automakers have a different perspective.

“Big, global, international companies are interested in data collection.

Small companies are not interested at all. Some of them have a certain fear that they may have to pass their data to their customers at the bigger companies.

As to standardization, we’re working with our biggest competitor, United Grinding, to design standards. That’s the way to develop an interface between the machine and the management information systems.”

—Hardinge Grinding Vice President and Kellenberger Grinding Machines CEO Urs Baumgartner, www.hardingeus.com

Whose responsibility is it to develop equipment standards to ease connection challenges between machines from different companies?

“We have big companies that have started their own solutions, and we have a lot of smaller machine tool builders who will never develop their own solutions.

We need companies in the control business – Siemens and Fanuc – to drive this process.

It makes sense to collect the data. I worked for many years in the maintenance department, on the other side from the machine tool builders. With warranty claims, 90% of the claims were failures of workers. So, it makes sense for machine tool builders to collect this data, to understand where problems are coming from.

WFL Millturn Technologies Board of Management Member Guenter Mayr

Responding to Mayr:

“We’re all facing skills gaps, and we’re complicating the manufacturing processes by introducing a lot of this data collection. We’re facing fewer and fewer capable people at our customer sites who are able to act on the data they’re collecting and make sense of it.

It should fall more to the industrial control suppliers – Fanuc, Siemens – to help us standardize. If we rely upon our customers – with the skills gap that we’re facing – we’re going to end up creating some severe bottlenecks in manufacturing. And instead of our customers enjoying increased spindle uptime and productivity, it’s going to drive it in the other direction.”

Mitsui Seiki USA CEO Robb Hudson, www.mitsuiseiki.com

WFL Millturn Technologies Board of Management Member Guenter Mayr (left), Heller Group COO Manfred Maier, Starrag Group Vice Chairman Frank Brinken, and Mazak Corp. Chairman Brian Papke (right).


Automakers have progressively shrunk tolerances on many components, making it harder for suppliers to qualify parts. How can manufacturers respond and still remain productive and profitable?

“With automotive production, you can’t ship a bad part to your customer without having to go back and count every part and inspect every part that you’ve done.

So, the drive for micron tolerances, people ask, ‘why you need that?’ Maybe you don’t, but you need to have control over and consistency in your process.

Tolerances can be held, it’s just whether the expense of the machine to deliver that is cost effective for the part. Customers are looking at scrap rates and the other costs associated with not delivering a good part to your customer.

The tolerances will continue to get tighter. We have to move toward machines that are more capable and productive.”

Index Corp. President and CEO Tom Clark

“We’ve seen some instances recently, both in automotive and aerospace, of customers relaxing tolerances. That reason, primarily, is because they can’t come up with the combination of machine, workholding, tooling, and raw material that will permit them to make the tolerances to the designed intent.

These micron tolerances are definitely achievable if you address every point in the process.”

—Mitsui Seiki USA CEO Robb Hudson

“If the material coming into your machine isn’t consistent, you can’t get there either. That was a huge challenge when we were grinding crankshafts that were cast with high variability.

You’re guilty until you prove your machine innocent. As accuracies get greater, your machine platform has to be better, the environment has to be better, and what you’re cutting or grinding has to be consistent, or you’re not going to get there. It comes down to the entire process. You can’t have two out of the three and be successful.”

Fives Machining Systems Inc. President and CEO Steven Thiry

“It is a challenge for the machine tool builder. You cannot set up a machine and tell the customer, ‘By the way, we have had good experience with Kennametal tools for that process for that material, so go talk to them, and good luck.’

No. You have to set up the machine, you have to work with the tool partner, and you demonstrate the process capability. So, it goes beyond just building an accurate machine. You are developing, together with the customers and the tool partner, a process solution for the customer.”

Starrag Group Vice Chairman Frank Brinken


About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of TMV and can be reached at 216.393.0271 or rschoenberger@GIE.net.