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China's machine tool consumption is growing strongly German manufacturers return to China

China Industry News Meng Fanjun

Although the Chinese market has been hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic, it has recovered rapidly, and China's industrial production and capital investment are expected to increase by more than 5% each in 2021, and machine tool consumption may achieve a strong growth of 10%. “Germany is the second largest supplier to China’s machine tool industry after Japan, with a position in the high-tech field. Its technology is widely used in various customer fields in China, such as automotive and aerospace as well as mechanical engineering, power generation and other broad-based Machine tool users," explained Shane Sun from the German Machine Tool Builders' Association (VDW) China in Frankfurt at the 17th China International Machine Tool Fair (CIMT2021).

On April 12, at the press conference of the German Machine Tool Builders Association CIMT2021, Dr. Wilfried Schöfer, Managing Director of the German Machine Tool Builders Association (VDW) in Frankfurt, said: "Due to the impact of the new crown epidemic, the export of German manufacturers is restricted. They will be mainly represented by their subsidiaries in China.”

"Finally, we have once again ushered in a real trade fair." Exhibitors and visitors gathered at the booth for face-to-face discussions, which is exactly what many German machine tool manufacturers are looking forward to at CIMT2021.

CIMT is a new starting point for umati to enter China

From 2020, orders for German machine tools from China began to stabilize, and even increased by 17% in the fourth quarter, an increase of double digits. In 2021, there are multiple signs that the global economy will continue to grow. Wilfried Schöfer judged: "The development in 2021 will be more encouraging, because we should have already ushered in a turnaround."

China Industry News found that VDW has an umati booth at CIMT. According to reports, umati (Universal Mechanical Technology Interface) is a community for the mechanical engineering industry and its customers to promote and disseminate open, standardized interfaces based on OPC UA. The purpose of the presentation at CIMT was to introduce the interface specification for machine tools to communicate with higher-level IT systems to the Chinese industry and to demonstrate the ease with which they work, where six companies (also exhibitors in the German pavilion) have already connected their respective machines. "Unfortunately, the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic have prevented more companies from joining our activities," regrets Dr. Alexander Broos, Director of Research and Technology at VDW, responsible for OPC UA's activities in the machine tool industry.

To bring umati fully into China, the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center (amtc) of Tongji University is supporting its technology infrastructure in Beijing. "We are also delighted to connect our machines and services with China's machine tool connectivity initiative NC Link, a continuation of the successful collaboration at EMO Hannover 2019," says Alexander Broos.

At that time, a group of Chinese CNC machine tool manufacturers had established contact with umati. According to Alexander Broos, now the NC Link team has implemented the connection of the OPC UA infrastructure to its own installation. The core element of Umati's participation in CIMT is the umati demonstrator, which consists of a data center connected in real time to a computer and a dedicated dashboard.

German machine tool suppliers are important partners of Chinese industry

Over the years, the German machine tool industry has been a valuable partner for Chinese industrial customers, and thus China has become the sales market for the German machine tool industry. In the past two years, German exports have decreased by nearly 45%, from 2.3 billion euros to 1.3 billion euros. The main products involved are machining centers, grinding machines, components, lathes, etc. By contrast, Chinese imports haven't been hit so hard, falling only 28% in 2020, with mostly parts and accessories delivered. Wilfried Schöfer believes that China's need for modern production technology remains huge, especially since the next step for Chinese industry is to launch higher-quality products that also meet the needs of the global market.

Wilfried Schöfer concluded: China International Machine Tool Exhibition is a very good platform on which Chinese customers will trust and choose the products displayed by German manufacturers. China International Machine Tool Exhibition will promote bilateral business. development to make more contributions.

In fact, the same is true of the German Machine Tool Manufacturers Association. Over the years, the German Machine Tool Manufacturers Association has been applying to the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology to set up a German joint booth at the China International Machine Tool Exhibition, and is responsible for the implementation of the project. At present, Germany has become an overseas exhibitor of the 17th China International Machine Tool Exhibition (CIMT 2021), with 150 companies exhibiting various machine tools, cutting tools, clamping technology, measurement technology, molds, and CNC systems and software. The exhibition area is 7,500 square meters.

"Participating in the fair is a great opportunity for us to gain visibility and experience abroad for umati," concludes Alexander Broos. "We hope this will soon be possible again in other markets."