Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry Metal Forming Machinery Committee Chairman and Forwell Precision Machinery Company President Hsiao Wen-long touched base on Taiwan's metal forming machinery industry scene at the 2019 Taipei Int'l Machine Tool Show pre-show press conference.
The 2019 Taipei Int'l Machine Tool Show (TIMTOS) kicked off on March 4 to March 9 at Taipei World Trade Center and Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center.
Forging, punching and shearing machineries and other forming tools are integral parts of the metal forming machinery sector, Hsiao said, adding that these machineries are primarily used in industries like automotive, general machineries and electronics, specifically the automotive industry, which stands for at least 70% of the market.
According to government customs' figures on import and exports, Taiwan exported USD$530 million worth of metal forming machinery between January and November last year, a 5.3% decline compared to the year before. The island primarily supplied to countries including China, the U.S., Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Turkey.
Due to the trade tensions between China and the U.S., Taiwan's metal forming machinery exports to China saw a gradual decline each month; on the flipside, export figures presented a growth towards the U.S. market.
How China's sales in the auto sector last year would affect the metal forming machinery industry will likely come to head this year. China's auto production and sales figures mark 278.10 million units and 280.8 million units respectively in 2018, a 4.2% and 2.8% decrease on both fronts compared to the previous month.
The outcome looks to be shrouded by pessimism, however, as the China-U.S. trade war has affected the global economy, specifically investments, in a way that has left companies on the fence and unwilling to offer proactive investment, even now, especially China's industries. Chinese investment has slowed down, Hsiao said, with industries looking to government intervention to offer solutions and revitalize the economy.
How this year's economy pans out largely depends on one major factor: how the talks between the U.S. and China over their trade dispute plays out. Hsiao anticipates companies taking a passive approach in the first part of this year, but would bounce back gradually in the latter half once stock inventory is deplenished, or when more automation and smart options are introduced into their machinery fleet.
Among the countries pinpointed in the Taiwanese government's blueprint “New Southbound Policy,” Hsiao pointed out that India and Vietnam show the most promise: India, for example, boasts a 1.2 billion-person population.
Taiwanese metal forming machinery companies in China have already seen improvements for smart upgrades by implementing IoT and other remote monitoring systems. This was done by fully integrating and setting up a smart manufacturing ecosystem. In terms of IoT application, punching machines are equipped with online monitoring systems; there are also educational classes, factory environment and safety, production and processing equipment, assembly progress, after-sales service system and more, which are all linked to the network as well. Hsiao expressed hopes of seeing a similar framework implemented in Taiwan to accelerate visualization of management.
Metal forming machineries are also being implemented with virtual reality applications, Hsiao added, which includes applying 3D modeling to create a visual of an automatic factory, allowing viewers to quickly grasp how the automatic factory works, and view the details as seen inside the machines and factories.
Taiwan's metal forming machinery has maintained a role in the servo punching section for over a decade. The servo punching technology is considered high-tiered technology and the added value is much higher than that of the traditional mechanical punching machine. Customers looking for servo punching machines primarily concentrate in the Japanese, European and American markets, though the demand is increasing year by year.
Sensor development is a key component in developing intelligent servo stamping machinery. The strength behind the development of future software is critical to long-term development, Hsiao believes. Whether it is processing simulation software or control data collection software, talent cultivation must be considered as well for sustainable, long-term development.
Cross-disciplinary of talents is the future for a developing a sizable workforce in the smart machinery sector, therefore companies should consider implementing talent cultivation programs to lessen the talent gap in the future.
Nina Lin (email@example.com)