“Due to existing travel restrictions caused by the Corona pandemic, German manufacturers are mainly represented through their Chinese subsidiaries,” explains Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), Frankfurt am Main. This is also true for the VDW, which for many years has applied for a joint German stand at Cimt to the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and is responsible for it. This year, the association is represented by Mr. Shane Sun, the VDW’s representative in China.

German exports have shrank by almost 45 percent in the past two years, from 2.3 to 1.3 billion euros. The main products supplied were machining centers, grinding machines, parts and accessories, and lathes. Chinese imports have not been hit quite as hard. They fell by 28 percent in 2020. The focus of deliveries was on parts and accessories.

For the current year, the signs are pointing to growth again. Orders from China stabilized last year and even rose by double digits in the fourth quarter, up 17 percent. “This promises a more encouraging development for the current year, as the turnaround should have been achieved,” judges Wilfried Schäfer. He is convinced that Cimt will make an additional contribution to boosting bilateral business again. “The demand in China for modern production technology is still huge, especially because Chinese industry wants to take the next step towards higher-quality products that are also in demand on the world market,” he concludes. “We are convinced that Cimt is a good platform where Chinese customers can persuade themselves what German manufacturers have to offer.

Cimt is a springboard for umati to China

The VDW is also represented at Cimt with an umati booth. umati (universal machine technology interface) is the community of the mechanical engineering industry and its customers for the promotion and dissemination of open, standardized interfaces based on OPC UA. The aim of the Cimt presentation is to introduce the interface specification for the communication of machine tools with higher-level IT systems to the Chinese industry and to show how easily it works. Six companies, also exhibitors at the German Pavillon, have connected their machines. “Unfortunately, the consequences of the Corona pandemic prevented more companies from joining our activity,” regrets Dr. Alexander Broos, Director of Research and Technology at the VDW and responsible for OPC UA activities in the machine tool industry. For umati to be brought to China at all, the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center (amtc) at Tongji University in Beijing is providing support with its technical infrastructure.

“We are also pleased to connect machines and services with NC Link, China’s Machine Tool Connectivitiy initiative,” Broos continues. This follows the successful collaboration at EMO Hannover 2019, he added. At that time, a group of leading Chinese CNC machine tool manufacturers had already connected with umati. Now the NC Link Group has realized the connection of the OPC UA infrastructure with its own installation, says Broos.

The core element of umati’s participation at Cimt is the umati demonstrator. It consists of a data hub to which machines are connected live and a dedicated dashboard. Real machines are connected to it and their data flows into umati’s own dashboard at https://umati.app. Via a QR code on the connected machine or at the booth of the respective exhibitor, the data can be viewed live on one’s own device.

“The trade fair participation is a good opportunity for us to make umati known and experienced abroad,” concludes Broos. “We hope that this will be possible very soon again also live in other markets.”