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Editorial issue n° 68

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

And we came to the end of 2018, finally. A year rich of challenges, starting from the widespread of the Industry 4.0 bedrocks in all sectors of machine tools building and application, to the research of new markets and slowdown of previously fast growing economies. A year, indeed, that leaves still unsolved the majority of the challenges: following Industry 4.0 and other innovation, such as Artificial Intelligence applications, means investments and re-thinking of the industrial process; reaching new markets, with other strong investments, could be difficult for many companies, already worn out by the difficulties of economies growing with slow rates, or showing signals of unexpected decrease.
Nevertheless, during its General Assembly in Barcelona, CECIMO reported that its machine tool production is likely to see an 8% gain in 2018. The turnover of CECIMO manufacturers should reach €27.8 billion, continuing its extraordinary growth for the second year in a row and increasing our global market share from 33% to 34%. Hence, the growth of the sector is generally strong, even if there are many differences from one country to the other and the weak rates of resumption in some leading countries in the sector are penalizing the companies based there. It is the case of Italy, where the strong industrial tissue, build up almost exclusively by SMEs is facing the threat of stagnation after not so many years of growth at a
small pace. Moreover, weak global trade might affect foreign demand and slow down European machine tool market growth. And yet, the technological development is one of the biggest in years: Industry 4.0 is a real industrial revolution and more innovation is still to come in many fields, from additive manufacturing to Artificial Intelligence, from circular economy to data analysis and storage. For instance, by applying AI to industrial data, some startups are minimizing machines’ downtime. One of them, Uptake, is trying to collect and analyze data that at the moment are available but still not considered, to prevent machine stops and decrease downtime: no need to add more sensors or to change process, every data needed to make possible early alarm that prevent system failure are already monitored and stored, it is only matter to analyze them in the correct way. This is an innovation that can strongly improve productivity, but needs testing, development and experimentation before being affordable and easy to use, in a word needs investment. And the same can be told for many other technologies that are already handy. In 2019, during many shows all over the world, these topics will be central: we are at the beginning of a period of enormous and fundamental changes, first of all in the sector of machine tools.
On the other side, the need of restrictive environmental policies is forcing companies in re-evaluating their processes and their productive standards. Who will be in grade to keep up with all this innovation: the matter is if only biggest companies will do.