The medium matters
Much technology and softwares have found their way into the machine tools industry. BY KAVITA JOSHI
A recent news item speaks about how
the improved business sentiment in India has Taiwanese companies, notably those from the machine tool industry, firming up plans to invest in manufacturing facilities in the country. Considering that around 65% of machine tool demand in India is being met by the domestic industry and the remaining 35% depends on imported industrial machine tools, this is a big step. Moreover, Taiwanese exports to India contributed $1.28 billion, while imports from India touched $828 million.
It’s well known that MNCs bring with them some of their global technologies and processes. Most MNCs are also particular about training the staff in the country they set up shop. The training centres are to familiarise local people with their technologies. Most of them prefer a state-of-the-art training centre with advanced machinery to offer hands-on training to customers and staff.
Coincidentally for India, a renewed focus on science and engineering education is cultivating a manufacturing workforce that can manage highly technical systems and allow for greater automation. This frees up employees to put their talents to work on R&D which is helping to redefine what it means to have a career in manufacturing. In addition, Internet of Things (IoT) allows for condition-based maintenance which is driving efficiencies as businesses save on labour and service costs.
The capability of a machine tool to cope with rapidly changing operating conditions is a decisive factor for its accuracy. A transition from roughing to finishing completely changes the mechanical and thermal load on the machine. Flexible machining of small manufacturing batches also results in rapid changes in the operating conditions. Particularly in small production runs, however, the profitable manufacturing of orders with narrow tolerances depends upon the accuracy of the first part. That’s why the thermal accuracy of machine tools has become a prominent issue.
“The successful fulfilment of manufacturing orders requires machine tools with high thermal stability. As a consequence, feed axes must achieve the required accuracy over the complete traverse range even with strongly varying speeds and machining forces. Position errors may result if the slide position is only determined from the spindle pitch and a rotary encoder on the motor side. These errors can be completely eliminated by using liner encoders. Angle encoders used on rotary axes provide similar benefits since the mechanical drive components are also subject to thermal expansion,” says AP Jayanthram, MD, Heidenhain Optics & Electronics India.
In recent years, under the support and guidance by national industry policies, some domestic brands increased investment in motion controller market, which makes the R&D, production scale and overall product performance improve considerably. These enterprises still do not have the strength of comprehensively competing with the first-class brands in Euro-America countries, but they have shown obvious advantages in segmented products and markets, motion controller market shares increase year by year and the market pattern of motion controller formerly dominated by foreign brands has been changed gradually.
To compete with foreign players, Indian machine tool makers too have improved their technologies in recent times. The usage of software products is growing rapidly in the domestic machine tool industry. Another major reason for implementation of software products is increasing precision and mass manufacturing ratio in the Indian auto sector. CAD/CAM software solution providers like Delcam, CATIA and SolidWorks from Dassault Systemes, Tebis and hyperMill are widely supplying their latest technology products to the Indian machine tool industry. PowerMill and PowerShape from Delcam as two among other most widely used software products in the automotive-related machine tool industry.
Currently the country imports machine tools from countries like Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan and Korea to meet 35% demand here. Going forward, the import ratio may come down as domestic players have been improving their standards on par with other developed markets. Considering the fresh infusion of trust in the manufacturing industry and overall economy seems buoyed, the machine tools industry is also all geared up to add to the growth momentum.