Expectations exceeded at EMO 2015

The decision to continue to hold EMO, the international exhibition for the metalworking industry in Milan, Italy as an alternative to EMO Hannover, Germany once every six years will, I am sure, be widely welcomed in the Italian engineering industry. Not that there was any doubt that Milan would not be a host venue but at least all the rumours can be dispelled now. From a selfish point of view I am very happy that there is the possibility of visiting Milan again in six years time as I find it a vibrant and culturally rewarding city. Not to mention all the great Italian cuisine and wines for one to taste.

EMO Milano 2015 can most certainly be regarded as a success. Exhibitor numbers and floor space booked were up as compared to the last EMO held in Milan in 2009. It has now been confirmed that 155 000 visitors from 120 countries visited EMO Milano 2015 to experience all the best innovations in the world of machine tools, and industry related products and systems. Interestingly EMO 2013 in Hannover only attracted 145 000 trade visitors from 100 different nations.

You can read various reports on this year’s EMO further on in the magazine in the International News section. There was overall consensus that the two important strains at work in manufacturing technology exhibited is the use of robotics, and the collective dissemination of information through the Industry 4.0 initiative, which is becoming an industry standard going forward.

Additionally “growing” parts or part features with additive manufacturing processes was also a theme, with more and more machine manufacturers delivering machines that incorporate a laser head for laser cladding that now enables machines to build up protruding features, and then machine them without re-clamping the workpiece. This is in addition to the mill/turn capabilities of the machine. Although sales figures are still relatively low in this area it does show that the acceptance by industry of this process as the way forward is growing.

Another was the aesthetic look of machines, involving high-concept industrial redesign of machining systems and work cells, so that workshops take on the enlightened mood of showrooms. As one designer said: “You wouldn’t buy an ugly car, so why would you buy an ugly machine?” he asked. “Why work in a dirty, ugly factory?”

The exhibition was busy from day one and the visitor figures are encouraging. My only disappointment was the lack of South African visitors. We all know the Rand lost ground in the run-up to the exhibition, which makes travelling internationally very expensive, but judging by the number of South Africans attending RWC 2015 in the UK the expense did not deter them to attend this event.

Talking of rugby, a long-time friend from the Japanese Machine Tool Builders
Association could not wait to see me and give me a hard time about our loss to Japan in the first round of the RWC 2015. On a more somber note some of my peers in the industry, no countries mentioned, did not even know that their country had a rugby team and that they were about to play us (South Africa) in a group match at RWC 2015!