Assembly and handling technology will continue to evolve over the next few years as well, along with the fields of digitalisation, mobility and artificial intelligence. Jürgen Noailles, managing director of Stein Automation GmbH in Villingen-Schwenningen and member of the board of the VDMA’s Integrated Assembly Solutions (IAS) department, provides us with an overview of current issues and trends in an exclusive interview.
Mr. Noailles, you’ve been a member of the board of the VDMA’s Integrated Assembly Solutions department for several months now. Which issues are you personally dealing with here in particular?
In addition to the issues of OPC UA, artificial intelligence and machine learning, I think it's important to avoid losing sight of the viewpoint of small and mid-sized companies. We have a healthy mix of companies of various sizes on the IAS board, who represent all of the member companies.
Assembly and handling technology is at the heart of traditional industrial production. Name three keywords that have shaped developments in this area to an especially significant extent over the past ten years.
Digitalisation, mobility and optical vision.
… and three keywords that will change assembly and handling technology in the next ten years.
Digitalisation, mobility and artificial intelligence.
Which technological developments will have to be advanced in particular to this end? Are there any obstacles or special challenges? If so, which?
For example, interface standards like OPC UA have to be developed and implemented. Without a doubt, we still have a shortage of skilled personnel in the field of information technology. More and more collaborations with IT companies are being entered into on the market in order to close this gap. Furthermore, we have to be “attractive and sexy” enough so that Germany, as an industrialised nation, is able to generate incentives for additional capacities both at home and abroad.
Assembly and handling technology has gained a fresh image due to the explosive development of robotics. Which development do you find especially impressive?
Robot operability. In the meantime, nearly all robotics suppliers offer systems which are easy to teach-in. In particular due to the shortage of skilled personnel, this is very important.
To what extent has the pandemic situation changed industrial processes and routine daily production in your opinion? Will these be lasting changes which continue after the crisis?
Nowadays it’s important to keep an eye on local operations. The pandemic has successfully contributed to ensuring that issues such as augmented reality and virtual commissioning are no longer uncommon. Customers are accepting this virtual world due to the pandemic. In my opinion, this ongoing development will continue to influence our everyday lives even after the pandemic.
Which measures or methods do you consider especially effective for reaching the goal of climate-neutral production?
Local production would play a major role in this respect. The “local for local” concept would make a considerable contribution to reducing the carbon footprint. Highly automated production facilities in the respective regions will be necessary to this end, which discourage imports from low-wage countries. The use of energy-efficient components is a primary constituent of green manufacturing.
You know Motek as an outstanding, time-tested trade fair, and as a traditional B2B marketplace for assembly and handling technology. How important do you think a face-to-face event will be for the industry in fall 2021?
I think it will be very important to implement Motek as an on-site, live event. But on the other hand, this will also necessitate a dramatic improvement in the pandemic situation, and the vaccination strategy will have to be pushed forward as quickly as possible so that travel restrictions imposed on companies can be relaxed. It’s important to provide customers with confidence and security in the capital goods industry. This is made possible by means of a personal exchange of ideas and experience, for example at Motek.
Mr. Noailles, thank you very much for the interview!