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High order intake and component bottlenecks characterise the sector’s economic situation

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Author: Lucas Möllers

High order intake and component bottlenecks characterise the sector’s economic situation

The surface technology industry is reporting full order books. After heavy losses in 2020, order intake for the surface technology mechanical engineering sector recovered significantly in 2021. Compared to the previous year, an order increase of 56 percent was achieved. In the first four months of 2022, however, order activity fell by 2 per cent in real terms compared to the previous year, thus the level remains good.

Component bottlenecks

The high order intake is burdened by component availability bottlenecks. In plant engineering, for example, electronic components for machine controls are in short supply. Also affected are seals, for example for paint application equipment. In order to maintain the ability to deliver, stock levels have been increased. There are also bottlenecks on the customer side, for example in the completion of construction projects. Delays in completion and thus project postponements are a result. The challenge for machine and plant manufacturers is to meet high demand in a market with considerably increasing prices, material shortages and high logistics costs.

Interoperability in surface technology

With Industry 4.0 and digitisation, mechanical and plant engineering primarily associates networked production with a high level of automation. This requires interoperability between machines, components and systems – means the ability to work together as seamlessly as possible – as well as the provision of all relevant data.

OPC UA technology is used as the universal interface in mechanical and plant engineering. In cooperation with the OPC Foundation, VDMA is developing the global production language through interface standardisation. In VDMA, around 600 companies in more than 35 working groups are developing these interface standards, so-called OPC UA Companion Specifications.

Together with the OPC Foundation, VDMA Surface Technology is organising the development of OPC UA interface standards for surface technology. Various project groups are working on common interface definitions for paint application technology, shot blasting technology and plasma surface technology. A further project group for cleaning and pre-treatment technology is in preparation.