No surprise that North American attendance was down for K 2001. Show organizers, Messe Dusseldorf, said approximately 6,000 North Americans, compared to 8,000 in 1998, attended this years K. The 9-11 tragedy created a chilling effect that altered the plans of even the most seasoned business travelers. The armored personnel carrier that escorted my United Airlines flight to the runway in Dusseldorf for the trip home was a clear reminder that well be second-guessing our itineraries for a long time.
But for those Americans who made the trip to Germany, the mammoth show did not disappoint. With the theme, Vision-Innovation-Business, remarkable technological advances were evident in virtually every one of the shows 17 mammoth halls. It would be impossible to summarize the K innovations here but there were some general trends worth noting:
The electric versus hydraulic debate continues.
|You cant just be an injection molder. You need to do it all, or, at least, most of it.
Dr. Freddy Metzmann, Nypro, Inc.
All-electrics boast clean and efficient while hydraulic injection molding machine makers tout power, speed and long-established, proven technology. Some machinery companies offered their first all-electrics while others stressed the availability of both electric, hydraulic, or hybrids.
PC-based controls bring down the cost of automation.
A common theme was advanced PC-based control technology allowing machine manufacturers to offer affordable, dedicated, and user-friendly software like never before. Putting a simple PC in charge of all machine controls and sensors also eases networking, troubleshooting, and Internet servicing.
Robotics and parts handling get faster and smarter.
As molding, forming and secondary processing are seeing rapid advancements in speed and production capabilities, the need for faster handling of materials and finished parts is critical. K2001 offered a plethora of automation devices from high speed robotics to incredibly accurate vision systems.
Laser welding and other fabricating innovations.
Speed and accuracy for welding, particularly with lasers, and five-axis machining centers were the buzzwords at K. Initial coverage of innovations from the K Show begins on Page 13. Look for more K Show highlights in future issues.
The value of value-added
The K Show highlight for me was an inspiring speech by Nypro Inc. European Marketing Director Dr. Freddy Metzmann during a press luncheon sponsored by the American Plastics Institute. He talked about his companys dramatic growth and attributed it to their value-added capabilities.
You cant just be an injection molder. You need to do it all, or, at least, most of it. Global firms operating in several sites do not want to have to find a mold maker, a molder, a designer, a contract manufacturer, wherever they go. They need one-stop shopping. (As a manufacturer you need to) do it all.
Nypro has 27 plants in 12 countries and about 8,000 employees. It is the classic example of a firm that has witnessed dramatic growth by listening to its customers and delivering value-added services. Times are tough but there couldnt be a better time to listen to your customer.
Kierscht said one of Donnellys goals is to serve a select group of customers in a broad range of industries. We dedicate ourselves to bring expertise to areas where our customers have strategically chosen to seek outside help. Our customers are also diversifying themselves. Donnellys clients range from industrial OEMs to medical products to consumer products.