EMO 2017 - Industry 4.0 gains momentum

10 min read

This year’s edition of biennial show EMO returns to Europe’s manufacturing technology heartland, Germany, with the six-day event kicking off on 18 September at its usual home, the Hanover show ground. Andrew Allcock offers this early preview, focusing on Industry 4.0

The previous edition of Europe’s largest manufacturing technology show took place in Italy, but now the exhibition is set for two consecutive runs at Hanover; Italy will get its turn again in 2021.

Even at the end of last year, a record-breaking event was being heralded. With more than 1,700 firms from 40 countries registered and booking 152,000 m2 of stand space, that was “significantly above the comparable result of the previous event”, according to EMO general commissioner Carl Martin Welcker, who added: “It looks very much as if the EMO Hannover 2017 will end up with a record number of exhibitors.” Latest figures are 2,050 exhibitors and more than 177,000 m2 net of exhibition space.

For comparison purposes, the 2013 edition at Hanover drew 2,100 exhibitors taking more than 180,000 m2, with some 143,000 visitors attending from 110 countries.

Regular visitors to the show (http://www.emo-hannover.de) know what to expect; 16 halls packed full of the very latest in machine tools (metalcutting for the most part), cutting tools, workholding, inspection, CAM software and much more. One of those 16, Hall 2, will be given over to DMG Mori, as has become tradition. But an overriding theme will be Industry 4.0, the connected smart factory.

While small companies may feel somewhat distant from this subject matter, there is no doubt that it is progressing at a rate and will touch every production facility in one way or another. Sure, the big manufacturers are leading the charge, just as they did with early adoption of, as it was then NC machine tools, and 5-axis machining more latterly. Another good example is EDM; even in the ‘80s it was still considered ‘black art’, but now, with process knowledge behind standard programming icons plus advanced process control, it is a push-button process for the many.

In the current jargon, such technology has become democratised – available to many and demanding limited or no specialist skill. ‘Plug-and-play’ will come to Industry 4.0 in its turn. Currently it is a developing area, with technology to support it still being defined and created, with its application demonstrated by large automotive companies, or those global giants pushing the technology, such as Bosch (Machinery, May 2017, p19), Siemens and Mitsubishi.


Industry 4.0 is a global movement, although has its genesis in the German government’s ‘High-Tech Strategy’ that was originated in 2006. The phrase ‘Industry 4.0’ made an appearance at the Hanover Fair of 2011 and then at the 2013 Hanover EMO event. By the time of the latter, the German government had passed its ‘High-Tech Strategy Action Plan’ (March 2012), which called for the further implementation of ‘High-Tech Strategy 2020’ (launched in 2010). Within that 2020 plan there were 10 future projects, one of which is Industry 4.0 (backed to the tune of up to €200 million).

So Industry 4.0 is an effort born of the desire to maintain Germany’s manufacturing base, but everybody else has decided to hitch a ride. It got air-time at last year’s Davos World Economic Forum meeting of world leaders, for instance (https://is.gd/fifoka). It will, however, be many German firms that supply the Industry 4.0-style manufacturing technology that others use. Which brings us back to EMO 2017.

The event will have an Industry 4.0 theme area where more than 20 exhibitors are expected to demonstrate their wares. Twenty-five-minute presentations will also be a feature of this area, which will cover subjects taking in: new business models and data security; networked programming and simulation; intelligent components; smooth data flow through networking; machine 4.0: digitalisation increases productivity; smart tools for future manufacturing; identification and control; and flexible automation, starting at lot size one.

With German industry featuring many small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), there is much research aimed at making Industry 4.0 relevant to them. Prof Dr-Ing Frank Barthelmä, executive director and institute manager of the German Society for Production Technology and Development highlights (GFE) offers: “GFE is currently a partner in the SME 4.0 Competence Centre of the Ilmenau University of Applied Science, and in a model factory is addressing problems encountered with data generation and data transfer in connection with metalcutting – for transfer especially in SMEs. The question involved here is this: how can I utilise a control loop in the machine, so as to ensure that quality, efficiency and productivity can serve as controlling target variables?”

And last year (Machinery, July 2016, p26), we reported on another German initiative focused on SMEs. Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology (Fraunhofer IPK) is working on a German government-funded project with industry that supports the smart factory job shop environment. The project is called iWePro – ‘Intelligent Self-Organising Job Shop Production’.

Speaking ahead of last year’s Hanover Messe, Eckhard Hohwieler, head of production machinery and plant management at Fraunhofer IPK, said: “A common misconception is that Industry 4.0 is about using IT to automate production to the point where human input becomes redundant.”

In contrast, IPK researchers believe that, although sophisticated tools inform decision-making, a human worker in a smart factory ultimately decides which production sequence to use. This decentralises production control, with each worker assuming responsibility and contributing to more flexible production processes and product individualisation. IT-based tools ensure that workers at all organisational levels constantly receive the information they need to produce the end-product on schedule.


Industry 4.0 is clearly not only for the big boys. Nor just adopted by the industrialised nations. In Malaysia this year, in June, SMEs were being encouraged to get on board. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister for International Trade and Industry, said: “SMEs are an integral component of the Malaysian economy, annually contributing more than 30% to the overall GDP and employing close to 60% of the total labour workforce in the country. Despite their importance, exports and productivity of SMEs have yet to rise significantly. Embracing Industry 4.0 rightly promises exponential increase in productivity and efficiency; Malaysian enterprises, especially SMEs, must be aware that they need to adapt to changes brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and explore practical methods to remain relevant in the global value chain.”

Just to put some context around this, Malaysia is 17th in Deloitte’s 2016 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index; the UK is sixth and Germany third. Predictions for 2020, by the way, are a rise to 13th for Malaysia, a drop to eighth for the UK, while Germany maintains its third position status. The United States and China swap positions at the head of the table, with the US number one in 2020. The point is that UK firms of all sizes should engage with the Industry 4.0 project, because, based on the Deloitte index, this country needs to put in more effort to maintain its position when there are eager nations such as Malaysia.

But let’s bring the topic back to the shopfloor a little. What might smaller companies expect to see that is tangible and realisable at EMO? Perhaps something like that demonstrated by workholding and automation expert Schunk (https://is.gd/xepoze) at last year’s AMB. This was an automated system for loading of machining centres.

Cutting tool specialist Sandvik Coromant (https://is.gd/uxiput) says it will: “Bring machining operations to the next level by offering new digital solutions and enabling the connection of processes, with the focus on optimising the machining process and decision making to increase profitability.”

As Machinery reported last year (October 2016, p19) and this May (2017, p15), the company now offers tools incorporating sensors and has a connected-cloud service to make sense of and display information.

German cutting tool specialist Komet (https://is.gd/aqumis) is also connecting its tooling to a cloud service. Komet Cloud can collect such data as machine operation time, machine idle time, length of tool life, tool replacement reason and process forces during part machining. This data can be accessed and analysed, with user dashboards displaying information easily created, says the company.

On the workholding front, Roemheld (https://is.gd/pajici) is likely to highlight its electronic wireless pressure sensor. Terry O’Neill, managing director of Roemheld (UK), says: “The wireless electronic pressure sensor is just one of Roemheld’s many innovative electric products designed to support customers in their move towards the demands of Industry 4.0.”

Japan’s Okuma (NCMT, https://is.gd/obukon) will be bringing the results of its own ‘Dream factory’ Industry 4.0 expertise to EMO. Having recently opened its second start-to-finish smart factory at its Japanese headquarters, the experience gained in its factories resulted in its ‘Smart Factory Solutions’ as a means of making Industry 4.0 a reality for customers. Driven by Okuma’s latest CNC control featuring artificial intelligence, these applications allow for total control of the entire scheduling and manufacturing process to support high product mixes and shorter delivery times, ensuring flexibility, even for fluctuating demands, the company advises.

For example, Okuma’s ‘Machine Status Monitor’ connects not only machines but also production plants around the world, displaying their availability at any given time. It visualises the machine status and accumulates, stores and processes big data, including machining and operating reports,plus the alarm history. Based on this, continuous improvements can be made to make each run better than the one before. The web-based interface can be viewed from anywhere and on any device – even smartphones. By connecting the machines on display at EMO, Okuma will simulate live on site a smart factory and demonstrate the possibilities offered by its Smart Factory Solutions.

Yamazaki Mazak (https://is.gd/rereje) is also offering Industry 4.0 technology that the company uses in its own factories. Its ‘iSmart Factory’ concept utilises Mazak’s Industry 4.0 infrastructure, which enables machine users to make the step from automated cell manufacturing to a completely connected Industry 4.0 factory of the future.

Mazak’s iSmart Factory is centred on three key pillars: ‘Smooth CNC’ technology; the new ‘SmartBox’, which provides faster local data analysis and cloud connection with increased security; and the ‘MT Connect’ standard communication protocol. All combine to facilitate the real-time sharing of manufacturing data between the production floor and offices, ultimately resulting in shorter lead times, reduced in-process inventory and lower indirect labour expenses for manufacturers.


Smooth CNC already features process support modules, such as ‘Smooth Scheduler’ and ‘Smooth PMC’, but the CNC has also been equipped with a number of new programmes that will be launched at EMO 2017. The first is ‘Mazak API’ (application programming interface), which enables non-Mazak software, such as automation equipment, to be integrated into the full suite of Smooth CNCs. Alongside this is the new ‘Smooth Spindle Analytics’ software, which provides instant spindle vibration reporting and analysis.

The SmartBox can interface with any machine fitted with an MT Connect adaptor, regardless of manufacturer, age or CNC type. Older legacy machines can also be connected to the SmartBox with the addition of Mazak’s new ‘SensorBox’.

MT Connect is a standard protocol that allows communication between multiple machines and enables information to be extracted in a standardised format.

Germany’s Heller (https://is.gd/nujupe) offers it ‘HELLER4Operation’, an easy-to-use, operator-oriented user interface for its machines that employs touch controls at the tool/workpiece loading station to support “fast and robust operation”. ‘HELLER4Services’ comprises digital services that focus on manufacturing and maintenance processes transparency.

The module forms the basis for evaluations and statistics, reducing machine downtime. Additionally, the visualisation of specific information, including status displays of axes, spindles or other assemblies, enables users to determine wear and to take preventive measures, avoiding unscheduled downtime. ‘HELLER4Performance’, comprises machine analysis for process and performance optimisation, time-synchronous extraction of real-time data to the Internet, as well as evaluation and graphical display, using an external cloud platform.

Siemens’ (https://is.gd/jodigu) theme for its stand will be ‘Digitalization in Machine Tool Manufacturing’. Says the company:

“We are the only supplier to offer both an end-to-end CADCAM-CNC process chain and solutions for networking machine tools and higher-level IT systems.” And of the benefits available, it says: “Based on automatically gathered machine and status data, ‘Analyze MyPerformance’ calculates the effectiveness of the overall system [Overall Equipment Efficiency – OEE] and supplies valid indicators for measures to boost efficiency. Even with older machine tools, upgrading can achieve productivity gains of up to 15 %.”

The connected factory, automated or not, will be centre stage at EMO, quite clearly.

Box item

EMO 2017 exhibit highlights in brief

■ Citizen Machinery UK (https://is.gd/ajoxim) – Low Frequency Vibration (LFV) machining technology and integrated laser processing incorporated within turn-milling operational sequences will be a major feature. LFV offers the ability to program at the machine the size of chip produced over a wide range of material types, from plastics, aluminium and copper, to high tensile stainless and high grade steels. Laser processing technology enables geometric shapes to be machined, as well as burr-free precision holes, in the walls of solid bar material pre-drilled in-cycle or directly into tubular bar material. Hall 26, Stand D25

Citizen Machinery's LFV technology offers programmable swarf control

■ Dormer Pramet (https://is.gd/uribaz) – The new Force X family of carbide drills (3xD to 8xD) is designed to support consistent performance and repeatability across diverse conditions. Unique ‘Continuously Thinned Web’ technology offers the dual benefit of improving both performance and tool life. In addition, the ‘flagship’ Force AD universal 90° milling cutter will feature. Supported by a wide program of inserts, all offer improved stability in a wide range of applications, even in unfavourable cutting conditions. Said to be an ideal choice for general engineering and subcontract environments. Hall 3, Stand A64

■ Lagun (RK International Machine Tools, https://is.gd/farifa) – The BM 3 bed-mill will be displayed. The BM series is available with axes travels of up to 5,000 mm by 1,300 mm by 2,000 mm (X, Y and Z). Hall 13, stand A56-A58 (More RK International principal news next issue)

■ Okuma (NCMT, https://is.gd/obukon) – The 5-axis vertical machining centre MU-6300V Laser EX is capable of milling, turning, grinding, laser metal deposition (LMD) and heat treatment for a wide range of workpiece sizes and shapes. A Trumpf laser source is fitted. Hall 27, booth D20 (More Okuma news in next month’s issue)

■ Omax (AquaJet Holdings, https://is.gd/ahemot) – The new GlobalMAX 1530 abrasive waterjet was created to extend the company’s waterjet engineering and manufacturing technology base to more customers. Hall 15, Stand E93

■Perfect (RK Machine Tools, https://is.gd/farifa) – the brand new PFG-600R will be unveiled, a 600 mm diameter rotary table surface grinder designed for the manufacture of components such as spacers and rings where concentricity is paramount. Hall 11, Stand A20 (More RK Machine Tool principal news next issue)

■ Schuler (https://is.gd/ledono) – Full speed during forming and slowinging down when spraying and transporting parts, that’s what the new MSE 2000 servo forging press offers. A 3D model will be on display. Hall 15, Stand E29

■ Starrett (https://is.gd/adavub) – Bandsawing machines from the battery-operated portable S1005 bandsaw with a blade speed of 170 m/min and weight of 4 kg, up to the S4230, a 475 kg semi-automatic, horizontal unit, that has a dynamometric saw tension indicator and blade speed from 20 to 85 m/min, controlled by a variable frequency drive. Hall 15, C08

■ Yamazaki Mazak (https://is.gd/rereje) – World debuts include: the Integrex i-500, which extends the capacity of the ‘i’ series and features a modular design concept allowing machine-specification- to-requirement matching; the Integrex i-800V/8, which combines full 5-axis milling, powerful vertical turning operations and pallet-changing capabilities suited to complex parts such as jet engine components; and the 5-axis HCR-5000S, a compact high performance horizontal machining centre suited to the aerospace sector for the manufacture of small structural components. Getting its a first European showing is the Variaxis j-600AM, the latest addition to Mazak’s growing additive portfolio. It employs an innovative wire arc-type metal deposition system to take the additive process “to an as yet unseen level of speed”. Hall 27 Stand B56 (More Mazak details next issue)

Getting its a first European showing is the Variaxis j-600AM, the latest addition to Mazak’s growing additive portfolio

Articvle first published in Machinery, July 2017