While the figures for the global production of plastics and rubber machinery reached a new high in 2021, in Europe, the sector once again was found to have to some extent underperformed.
Global production growth stood at 13% in 2021, reaching a new record level of €38.6 billion, fuelled by China’s robust, above-average 15% gain. The European plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers achieved a slightly below-average increase of 11 percent, and now account for 40 percent of global production, compared to almost 45% in the past.
China also exported the most plastics and rubber machinery for the first time last year. The country boosted its exports to €5.7 billion, an impressive jump of 28.2 percent - and relegating Germany to second place. Germany’s 5.2 billion euros a plus of 9.4 percent was not enough for the country to retain its title of world export leader.
"In the medium term, companies in Europe will have to prepare themselves for a significantly higher price level, as raw materials and energy in particular, have become much more expensive. At the same time, the situation in the supplier market is causing problems, plus, due to the increased uncertainty resulting from the war in Ukraine, processors are holding back on investments and therefore on new orders for machine manufacturers" said Luciano Anceschi, president of EUROMAP, the European umbrella organization of the most important national plastics and rubber machine manufacturers, summing up the difficult situation.
"We have benefited from Covid, but now we have to brace ourselves for the fact that a saturation effect has occurred in large parts of our customer industries, and further growth will be difficult to achieve this year under the current conditions.
He went on to note that at K 2022, which is taking place in Düsseldorf in October, EUROMAP will provide live demonstrations of the OPC UA technology and the specifications for digital interfaces available for plastics and rubber machinery. Real-time data from connected machines can be accessed via an online dashboard by any trade fair visitor using a smartphone. Machine manufacturers worldwide can participate.
Interoperability in production, i.e. the networking of all components within the production line is a prerequisite for Industry 4.0. to succeed. This gives machine operators the necessary access to production data, which allows them to monitor and control the processes for greater efficiency, traceability, condition monitoring through machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
Convenient "plug-and-play" networking requires globally recognised, uniform standards for data exchange. The OPC UA standard as a global machine language is the basis for the development of technical specifications for individual machines and components. After being initiated by VDMA and EUROMAP, the development of specifications is now taking place at a global level, together with the OPC Foundation and international partner associations.