At the joint EUROMAP and VDMA press conference – held the day before K2016 officially opened its doors to the public - EUROMAP President Luciano Anceschi, and Dr Karlheinz Bourdon, Vice-President of EUROMAP presented their perspective on the state of the plastics industry in Europe.
Euromap, the European umbrella association of plastics and rubber machinery, is targeting a sales growth of just under 2% for European plastics and rubber manufacturers.
According to Luciano Anceschi:"This forecast [of 1.8 per cent this year and for the next two years] means that the industry in the member countries of EUROMAP will continue to grow. Between 2005 and 2015m sales in our countries rose from €9.3 billion to €15.5 billion - up by 46 per cent - albeit less than the 83 per cent growth recorded worldwide for the same period."
In 2015, the Euromap countries accounted for 47% of world exports; China’s share reached 15% following a surge in exports.
"In 2015 we see a downturn in China, which we will also see in 2016. The economic situation in China is very difficult. But those who have invested in China see good growth rates,” said Dr Karlheinz Bourdon. “High-end products are still doing quite well while low- and mid-end is more difficult. European manufacturers can be happy that the growing market in China is helping us with more demand for a higher end product."
After getting the facts and figures part of the conference out of the way, the discussion turned to Industry 4.0 – the key focus at this year’s K Show. As Ulrich Reifenhäuser, chairman of the board of the VDMA plastics and rubber machinery association explained: “The motto for K2016 is Industry 4.0 – working for you!” At K 2016, the VDMA stand in Hall 16 is a showcase for Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 is a young development, ‘in its kinder-shoes’ Reifenhäuser, added. “But it’s here, at K 2016. Now everyone can get a feeling about what it is.”
He emphasized that Industry 4.0 is not an end in itself, but a way to add quality for the customer. “To help them increase productivity and efficiency, for example by means of predictive maintenance. But it’s early days yet,” he said. He also talked about the potential of cloud analytics, which makes it possible to establish benchmarks for the industry. “It’s all about data,” he said. ”We have a tremendous volume of data, and we can use these data to learn.”
VDMA Managing Director Thorsten Kühmann pointed out the importance of standardization, calling it ‘a prerequisite for Industry 4.0.’ ”And now we have taken the first step, with the development of the Euromap 77 standard. The standard is independent of the make of the machine,” he said. “So processors have a choice and are not restricted to one type of machine.
Industry 4.0 is not only about networking machines, it is also about networking people. This is part of the role which the VDMA can play for its members. The association can provide support and promote communication about Industry 4.0. “The core essence to make this work is openness, and working together,” said Kühmann. “The VDMA can smooth the road for its members.”
“The many discussions about networked digitized production over the last two years show this is more than a technological leap. This will bring changes to corporate structures and working patterns.”
“4.0 is a state of mind and technology,” he concluded.