The leading publishing house for specialized technical periodical publications TLL Media was part of a media tour of factories in the field of machine building in Taiwan. The tour, organised by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), took place between April 9th and 15th 2017.
TAITRA is the foremost non-profit trade promotion organization in Taiwan. Jointly sponsored by the government, industry associations, and several commercial organizations, TAITRA assists Taiwan businesses and manufacturers with reinforcing their international competitiveness and in coping with the challenges they face in foreign markets. TAITRA boasts a well-coordinated trade promotion and information network of over 1200 trained specialists stationed throughout its Taipei headquarters, four local and 60 overseas branch offices worldwide.
During the tour it became clear that the Taiwan machine tools industry has been playing a key role in the global market. Industrial machines manufactured in Taiwan are intended mostly for export. 80% of the total machine tools turned out, which valued around US$ 4 billion annually in the past 3 years, are exported to over 138 countries across the world, making Taiwan the fifth largest machine tool export country behind Germany, Japan, Italy and China.
Comprising mostly of small and medium-sized firms, the industry relies on a collaborative approach in a bid for survival and forged a path to becoming the 7th largest machine tool manufacturing country in the world on the back of high quality and competitive pricing. By emphasizing teamwork, industry alliance and solid infrastructure development, manufacturers strive to transform Taiwan into a global center for high-grade machine tool production.
The media tour included a visit to ten manufacturing plants. Among them were TBI Motion, a specialized manufacturer of linear motion products - ball screws, linear guides, linear ball bearings, etc., and Luren, a company producing gear cutting tools and gear grinding machines.
The delegation also visited the factory of AWEA, part of the Good Way group, which has a network of 60 dealers in 43 countries, including Bulgaria. In order to provide a wide array of products and services, the company invested in the Taichung plant to manufacture C-frame vertical machining centers (VMCs) in 2000.
According to the company, the plant enjoys dramatic sales growth in this production line. The program of the tour continued with a visit to Jainnher, whose main products include centerless, cylindrical and internal grinding machines as well as various NC & CNC automatic loading and unloading systems.
On the next day the media tour continued with a visit to Lien Chieh Machinery, a leading manufacturer of hydraulic presses in Asia. Gifu Enterprise impressed with a new modern factory for a very wide range of high-tech automatic tool changers and milling heads. Both companies see potential for market development in Southeastern Europe and have shown a keen interest in cooperating with companies in the region.
In general, all visited manufacturers showed production based on their own R & D and quality components. Great attention is paid to internal production control at each stage of the manufacturing process. For these reasons, most manufacturers are committed to maintaining the entire production cycle on their own, with particular attention being paid to ensuring the precision of machine operation.
Each factory has a modernly equipped test laboratory and, in most cases, own spindle production unit. Some companies such as YCM even have their own foundries for machine bases. Taiwanese manufacturers consider all this an advantage of their production, which they are convinced is able to compete with recognized global and European brands. This is confirmed by the reference lists of customers which feature leading manufacturers of aircraft, cars, machine building companies from Japan and Europe.
In terms of partnerships with European companies, Germany, Turkey, Italy and Spain are the main countries involved. Taiwanese manufacturers consider Southeastern Europe still an unfamiliar but very interesting market. Each company has a technical support service that can advise customers on the best solution for their production. Machine manufacturers in Taiwan believe this is a very important factor in reducing the final price that customers pay.
The technological solutions offered also meet the requirements of customers regarding the brands of the automation and CNC components. Warranties and, in some cases, after-sales service are carried out directly by the manufacturer.
The media tour continued with a visit to Pinnacle Machine Tool, which specializes in manufacturing all kinds of machining centers such as 5-axis, double column, vertical, and horizontal. Furthermore, the company has a wide range of CNC lathes as well. Pinnacle takes pride in its R&D unit which is teamed up by experienced engineers with decades of expertise in machine tool industry.
By means of applying up-to-date technologies such as CAD/CAM/CAE software and Finite Element Analysis, the company claims its machines are robustly constructed, assuring optimum rigidity and stability. It is one of the few Taiwanese manufacturers with a major market share in Europe (over 70%). The company also has a business partner in Bulgaria.
Representatives of the media also visited Chmer, a company dedicated to EDM development and manufacturing. It offers an extremely wide range of high-tech and innovative machines, which are marketed all over the world. Chmer's factory is one of the largest in the Taichung region. Among the company's most popular product lines in Bulgaria are the new GX+ series linear drive wire cut EDMs and the Q series high precision linear drive wire cut EDMs.
The last day of the tour included meetings with representatives of two of the leading manufacturers of mills and modern machining centers in Taiwan - KAFO and YCM. Both companies have impressive factories and product ranges. KAFO, whose solutions have been awarded a National Award of Excellence for 12 years, showed their latest models of machines, and YCM focused on their IoT technologies for machines which journalists had the opportunity to see applied in the company's production process.
A special meeting with Taichung City Governement was also organized for participants in the media tour, during which a new government program for smart machine development and production in Taiwan was presented. The intelligent machinery initiative aims to upgrade Taiwan's precision machinery into an intelligent machinery industry with an eye to creating jobs, expanding the export of turnkey solutions, and making central Taiwan a leading hub for smart machinery.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs has therefore proposed a Smart Machinery Development Program to infuse a broad range of intelligent elements into the precision machinery industry. The program will consolidate the technological services industry and develop total solution capacities so that manufacturers can provide innovative, customized, and smart products and services under their own brand names. This will not only boost the competitiveness of Taiwan's intelligent machinery industry, but also provide more user-friendly products and improve the quality of life.
The government aims to build a new ecosystem for the smart machinery industry by building on Taiwan's successes in precision machinery and information and communications technologies, and incorporating intelligent technologies into those processes. This will make Taiwan a global research and development and manufacturing base for smart machinery, as well as a total solution provider for end-use applications.
To give Taiwan's machinery and equipment manufacturers the ability to provide total solutions, the program will equip machines with intelligent functions such as malfunction prediction, accuracy compensation and automatic parameter setting. It will also create a system for internet-of-things (IoT) manufacturing services by designing intelligent production lines and connecting with consumers via cloud and internet technologies.
These efforts will be implemented through three strategies. The first one is connecting local industries by building a smart machinery hub and integrating industry, university and research institute capabilities.
The second strategy includes: developing factory-to-factory total solutions for aerospace technology, advanced semiconductors, intelligent transportation, green vehicles and energy resources; promoting human-robot cooperation, and combining machine vision in robots with intelligent machinery applications; developing high-end controllers, and raising the penetration rate of Taiwan-made controllers in niche-type smart machines; building industrial IoT technologies; and developing Taiwan's own smart machinery technologies, components and application services. It also involves strengthening interdisciplinary cooperation to develop aerospace machine tools and integrating different segments of the industry into a cluster.
Finally, the third strategy requires enhancing cooperation and industrial exchanges on intelligent machinery with Europe, the United States and Japan, and expanding overseas markets by exporting systems integration solutions and promoting Taiwan's machine tools in Southeast Asian markets.
Expected benefits of the program include:
• An interministerial platform linking central and local government resources will be created to help replace imports with domestic machinery and equipment that incorporate Taiwan's advanced manufacturing applications
• The government will help the industry develop key parts and components for smart machinery to raise the share of controller exports that are mid-to-high end from 10 to 18 percent in four years, and 30 percent in eight years.
• High-end sensors and IoT cloud technology will be developed to establish smart system solutions and build six model ecosystems for smart industries in four years.
• Interdisciplinary cooperative alliances will be formed to build four regional service export models in four years and 10 models in eight years.
• An industrial-academic talent assessment center will be set up to train workers for smart industries. Businesses will receive help with export financing and mergers and acquisitions.
The government also predicts that smart machinery industry in Taiwan will expand to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 2 % by 2019 and 5% or more by 2023.
Interview with Jason Lin, worldwide marketing and sales manager, AWEA, and Kevin Lin, deputy sales manager, AWEA
Several studies show that Bulgaria is among the most popular export destinations for metalworking machines from Taiwan. How do you rate the conditions of the market environment in the country?
Our Bulgarian dealer is very strong. We have orders for both smaller and bigger machines. There is also a demand for very complicated high-tech machines on the Bulgarian market.
What makes us stand out on your market is the cost of our machines, which is much lower than what Japanese manufacturers offer for example. I also think Taiwanese manufacturers are much more flexible. Sometimes customers have special requirements about the machine and want to change something mechanically or electronically. We strive to do our best to meet all these requirements.
What makes you competitive on the Bulgarian market?
I need to be honest, sometimes a company's success on a foreign market depends entirely on finding a good dealer, which is very active and focuses on providing good service to customers. When the dealer is able to take more orders that enables us to offer more competitive prices. An important factor is also offering reliable after-sales technical service.
Author: Petya Naydenova