JIMTOF 2018 breaks new records
The 29th Japanese International Machine Tool Fair (JIMTOF) was held from 1 to 6 November 2018 in Tokyo and broke a number of records. The main topic of this year’s event was “CONNECT by Technology of the Future”. Accordingly, the Internet of Things (IoT) and connectivity played central roles. As usual, the VDW was on hand to represent the German machine tool industry.
The latest JIMTOF was a resounding success: 838 (2016: 720) exhibitors, including 140 from abroad, presented their products and services in the twelve halls of the “Big Sight” international exhibition centre in Tokyo. The exhibition centre has a gross area of over 98,400 square metres, 49,779 square metres (2014: 49,581) of which (net) were taken up by 5,531 (2016: 5,509) standard “booths” of 9 square metres each.
The total visitor time was not available at the time of going to press. However, the daily visitor statistics from the penultimate day of the fair showed an increase of approx. 5 per cent, meaning that the trade fair management was optimistic that it would exceed the magic threshold of 150,000 visitors this year (2016: 147,602). The number of foreign visitors (2016: 11,533) had already seen a 6.5% increase by the penultimate day of the event.
The total number of exhibitors in Japan once again included around 70 German machine tool, tool or component manufacturers, either attending in person or represented by their Japanese agents. The VDW represented the whole of the German machine tool industry on an exhibition stand provided by the Japanese association JMTBA. As in previous years, a news sheet was issued in Japanese especially for the trade fair. Containing the most important facts about the industry as well as a list of exhibitors, this was very well received by the visitors.
Eight exhibition halls were devoted to machine tools and components, while four other halls featured tools and accessories. As always, the focus was on technologies for ultra-precision machining, surface structuring and the superfinishing of functional surfaces. Additive manufacturing has also become well established, with these technologies increasingly being integrated into suppliers’ regular ranges.
Great interest in Internet of Things
In 2016, information on the Internet of Things (as “Industry 4.0” is known here in Japan) was to be found almost everywhere in Japan, but this was further surpassed at the 29th event. Practically every stand advertised the IoT activities and services of the respective machine, tool or component manufacturer. In an “IoT Challenge for Connect”, the Japanese association JMTBA connected over 300 machines to a central visualisation system at the trade fair. On closer inspection, however, it soon emerged that no detailed information was provided. The connection had been set up by the major control producers and leading manufacturers with their own IoT platforms: there was no real, sustainable and open connectivity. A further major buzzword on many stands was AI (artificial intelligence) – for process control, for example. Here, too, the answer to the question of how much “genuine” AI the applications actually contained was in many cases not clear. Nevertheless, the concept attracted a lot of attention.
The VDW used the fair to conduct numerous discussions about the connectivity initiative umati – with its Japanese sister association JMTBA, the Chinese association CMTBA and numerous exhibitors. There was great interest in the common open communication standard based on OPC UA, which is currently under development. Mitsubishi Electric was recruited as a new control-system cooperation partner, and leading Japanese machine manufacturers also expressed interest in and willingness to participate in umati.
Exhibitor feedback mainly positive
Discussions with German exhibitors revealed that most companies viewed the trade fair as a success. As usual, however, expectations were shaped by the companies’ experience of doing business in Japan, which remains a unique and challenging market.
Exhibitors were pleased that the trade fair organisers had adopted a technology-oriented layout this time. Stand location satisfaction levels rose accordingly, although the confined space of the exhibition centre left much to be desired.
The next Jimtof is scheduled to take place in an unusual slot, this time from 7–12 December 2020. The reason for the significantly later date is that the Big Sight Exhibition Centre will serve as a media centre for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.
Author and Photo: Dr. Alexander Broos, VDW