125 years of the VDW
Milestones from 1891 to the present day
(Hi)Stories off the beaten historical track: come and join us on a time travel excursion through 125 eventful years of VDW. Founded in Hanover in 1891, the VDW ranks among the oldest organisations in Germany’s industrial history. The chronicle below will tell you more about the numerous milestones in the association’s chequered history, which reflect aspects of contemporary events that are sometimes out-of-the-ordinary, at times amusing and in places also of profound significance. The chronicles will be continually supplemented, so it’s well worthwhile looking in regularly!
Making a virtue of necessity
It’s 1891: Europe’s development is characterised by rapid technological change. Industrialisation, urban growth and geographical mobility rank among the dominant trends in everyday living. A process crucially underpinned by Germany’s industrial sector. At the forefront: the manufacturers of German machine tools. But Germany’s rise to a major economic power is not without its problems: for example, the industrialists are less than happy with the German Empire’s liberal free-trade policy. The machine tool manufacturers, hitherto perceived as rather individualistic, decide to leave nothing to chance from now on, and take action. This was when the VDW was born.
On 7 December 1891, the hour had come. Following an invitation issued by Privy Councillor Dr. E.h. Ernst Schiess, eleven entrepreneurs from the machine tool industry met at the Kastens Hotel in Hanover. Dr. Schiess was not just anybody. The Düsseldorf-based machine tool manufacturer was an acknowledged expert on commercial and transportation matters, had excellent political connections, and had made a name for himself nationwide. Ideal starting conditions, indeed, for ensuring the VDW’s success. As Vice-President of the Düsseldorf Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Schiess advocated import restrictions on behalf of the sector. So it’s unsurprising that he began the VDW’s inaugural meeting with the words: “Without protective tariffs, the German economy, now beginning to prosper, will succumb to overpowering foreign competition.” How times change. Whereas nowadays the German industrial sector advocates free trade and open markets worldwide, back in 1891 the German manufacturers are pursuing the opposite goal.
What followed was the foundation of a joint lobbying group as a counterpoint to the policies of the Wilhelmine era. The “Association of German Machine Tool Manufacturers” was born. The organisations’ stated purpose was to synergise the shared interests of all member companies, and to represent these in relations with government agencies and politicians. On 28 March 1898, the organisation (already numbering 30 members) was renamed as the “German Machine Tool Builders’ Association”, and has retained this appellation ever since.
The VDW on course for growth
During the First World War, the VDW achieves rapid growth. Early in 1917, it already has 245 members, and gaining a progressively higher profile as an important sectoral representative. 1920 saw the VDW’s first involvement in exhibitions, with the Technical Trade Fair in Leipzig. Close contacts with universities and other institutes of higher education date back to the beginning of the 20th century.
The Red Book and its classified directory
For experts in metalworking and production technology all over the world, the “Red Book” is an indispensable aid and a vital compendium covering the technical performative capabilities of German machine tool manufacturers. The publication can look back on a long history.
The VDW has been publishing this sectoral directory since 1917. Starting life as an imposing 64-page brochure, the directory, now in its 26th edition, has meanwhile evolved into a comprehensive work of reference with more than 600 pages.
It contains information on the production programmes of the VDW’s members and of the Sector Association Machine Tools and Manufacturing Systems in the VDMA.
The original version not only contains what was then the most up-to-date list of the 245 member companies, but the firms are also catalogued in a “producer list” by their products, alphabetically sorted. This list is supplemented by an additional nine groups of specialised machinery vendors.
The VDW prioritises the EMO
Following the crisis-ridden years of the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich, the VDW’s remit was expanded once again in the context of reconstruction. As a founding member of the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries (CECIMO), we organise trade fairs and exhibitions, have successfully opened them up to international participation, have established links to foreign markets and have assured a global presence for Germany’s machine tool manufacturers. Since 1977, on behalf of CECIMO, the VDW has been organising the sector’s premier international trade fair, the EMO Hannover, and autonomously since 1980 the international METAV trade fair in Düsseldorf. In addition, the association has since 2008 been supporting the AMB, and since 2011 the Blechexpo. In 2015, in the shape of the Moulding Expo, another trade fair was inaugurated, conceptually sponsored by the VDW. All three events are held in Stuttgart.
The VDW is founded for a “second” time
The Association of German Machine Tool Manufacturers, founded in 1891, swiftly evolved into an ever-larger alliance of industrialists from all over the empire. But the much-invoked sense of solidarity was slow to materialise, mainly because numerous members in the south of Germany and in Prussia had significant issues of trust with the Rhineland’s heavy industrial sector, and thus with Düsseldorf as the home base of the VDW’s first Chairman. There was not always a unanimous conviction that a Rhinelander would actually represent their interests with sufficient rigour. Nevertheless, the manufacturers’ aim was to work even more closely together in the future, and to weld the loose association into a legally potent organisation.
For the formal “second” constitutive meeting on 28 March 1898, seven founding members from the year 1891 met with 20 other company representatives in the Frankfurter Hof hotel in Frankfurt am Main. Paul Steller, General Secretary of the Industrialists’ Association of the Cologne Administrative District, was during the meeting elected as the VDW’s first Executive Director. But since, like all the VDW’s newly appointed functionaries, although his post was not an honorary one, he was compelled to operate from the location of his own company, Cologne became the domicile of the VDW’s first office. And remained so until the outbreak of the First World War.
The dominant issues remained protectionism, Germany’s customs policies, and the formulation of delivery conditions. In those years, the export of machine tools was still perceived as relatively unimportant. So it’s hardly surprising that for many years the sector advocated protecting the German industrial base against competition from abroad, principally from the USA and the United Kingdom. For instance, in 1898 about 75 per cent of the machines produced, worth 70 million reichsmarks (equivalent to 252 million euros), were sold directly in the domestic market, while around 25 per cent were exported.
The turn of the century up to 1905
The new century began with an enigmatic economic situation. Although the pressure exerted by machinery imports from the USA eased significantly after 1900 because of a booming US domestic market, the German machine tool industry was not able to benefit fully from this trend, due to sizable surplus capacities in its production operations.
This was not to change for many years to come. In order to counteract overproduction, the VDW advocated setting up a central office. Its remit was defined as collecting the incoming orders and forwarding them to member companies suitable for producing the machines involved. The plan envisaged the introduction of a cartel on the American model. At first glance, an inspired and cost-cutting move. But it never came to pass: in contrast to the German raw material syndicates, Germany’s machine tool manufacturers did not have a central administrative office that could have coordinated allocation of the orders and a harmonised sales operation. Instead, the member companies continued to prioritise their entrepreneurial independence and individuality, so that the plan was abandoned even before the introduction of official anti-trust legislation in Germany in 1958.
And another plan, designed to reduce overproduction levels, proved unsuccessful as well. There were lengthy discussions on whether what were called “stock lists” could be used to inform prospective purchasers where in the German Empire the desired machine could be procured at short notice. It swiftly emerged, however, that this idea was likewise doomed to failure, because the machine tool manufacturers were unable and unwilling to agree on specialising their production operations. Thus once again entrepreneurial freedom won out over the sector’s shared goal.
VDW goes into the trade fair business
The 1900 World Exhibition in Paris marked the birth of the trade fair activities conducted by the still-youthful VDW. In addition to the VDW’s founding father Ernst Schiess, it is primarily Hermann Schoening who advocates a fair of its own for the VDW. In March 1920, the VDW’s first trade fair opened, with its own exhibition hall in Leipzig. Here are the figures: 184 stands, occupied by 100 exhibitors. This was the beginning, and there was still plenty of scope for expansion.
In the following years, the VDW founded its own trade fair company, tasked with organising the exhibitions with professional expertise: the subsidiary Maschinen-Schau GmbH. In 1926, the decision was taken to upgrade Leipzig for many years to come as the central and most important exhibition venue for the machine tool industry in Germany. At the same time, business with Russia was developing splendidly. Reason enough for the VDW to also showcase its sectoral capabilities at relevant fairs there, which it did for the first time in the late 1920s. This constituted the green light for numerous trade fair appearances by German companies in the major sales markets abroad – not least England and the USA. The VDW’s 22nd exhibition in March 1939, however, was to be the last in Leipzig. As World War Two broke out, trade fair activities ceased throughout Germany. The VDW had to interrupt its trade fair operations until the war had ended.
Founding phase of shared industrial research in the VDW
Following the foundation years, Georg Schlesinger’s contribution proved to be exceptionally significant. As Deputy Chairman and Honorary Executive Director in the years 1915 and 1916, he set important milestones in the organisation’s history. Schlesinger, who as from 1904 headed the first Faculty for Machine Tools and Factory Operations at what is now Berlin University of Applied Sciences, is acknowledged as the founder of academic research in the fields of production technology and business management. Under his leadership, in an alliance between the faculty in Berlin and the VDW, valuable research work was accomplished. Building on this tradition, the VDW is still active nowadays in transferring knowledge between the industrial sector and the research community. This is manifested, for example, within the framework of shared industrial research, conducted by the VDW’s Research Institute. It was under Schlesinger’s aegis, too, that the association’s head office was moved from Düsseldorf to Berlin, where from then on it remained until the next relocation, to Frankfurt am Main in 1949.
Trade with Russia has a lengthy tradition behind it
The 1920s saw the first personnel changes in the association’s honorary leadership. In 1921, Jacob Becker took over as Chairman, followed in 1925 by Dr. Ernst Huhn. From 1926 to 1938, the Chairman was Dr. Hermann Schoening. During their terms in office, trade relations with Russia, for example, were significantly expanded. In parallel to the Treaty of Rapallo, designed to bring about a normalisation of relations between Germany and Russia, the VDW’s members had ever since the end of the First World War been progressively prioritising the sales market in the east. The massively industrialising colossus offered immense sales potential to the German machine tool industry. An astonishing similarity to today’s situation: despite sanctions, imposed on Russia in August 2014 in response to the Ukraine crisis, the German machine tool manufacturers have stuck with the important Russian market. This once again evidences the lengthy tradition of the evolved trade relations here, which have also been proactively progressed by subsequent VDW Chairmen like Heinrich Möring, Dr. Dr. Gerhard Schaudt, Erik Herbst all the way through to Dr. Bernhard Kapp.
The association is now headquartered in Frankfurt am Main
With the end of the Second World War, the VDW now represented only West German manufacturers. Executive Director Dr. Fritz Kappel and Dr. Dr. Gerhard Schaudt as the first Chairman of the West German VDW manage the association’s affairs from Frankfurt am Main, a stone’s throw away from the large umbrella organisation, the German Engineering Federation (VDMA). In January 1968, the VDW moved into its present-day headquarters at Corneliusstrasse 4 in Frankfurt’s West End. Erik Herbst was the VDW’s Chairman in these years, until he was succeeded in 1971 by Dr. Bernhard Kapp.
Hanover becomes the VDW’s new trade fair venue
In the post-war years, the economy of Western Europe developed at amazing speed. The boom was triggered by huge pent-up demand from a Europe exhausted by war. And here the machine tool industry was a particular beneficiary. Orders increased at a breath-taking pace. Between 1949 and 1951, orders on hand quadrupled, to a volume of 966 million DM. German companies thus regained perceived international importance, which necessitated a fittingly prestigious showcase for the sector’s performative capabilities.
But what next? The premier trade fair venues in those years were Frankfurt am Main and Cologne. The British occupying forces suggest Hanover as a new trade fair venue. Not far from the village of Laatzen near Hanover a trade fair centre was created in 1947 on a greenfield site, which in the following years has evolved into the world’s biggest trade fair venue, hosting numerous prestigious events. This highly impressive development has also benefited the VDW’s trade fairs, which right up to the present day rank among the premier events in Hanover.
European integration creates the globally prestigious EMO trade fair
As from 1949, the VDW revamped its trade fair operations. Hermann Heller from Geb. Heller GmbH in Nürtingen was appointed Chairman of the Trade Fair Committee. The VDW’s first trade fair after the war was held in 1950 in close cooperation with Deutschen Messe AG in Hanover. Here are the figures: 200 exhibitors on more than 6,500 square metres of net exhibition space. In parallel, six European machine tool trade associations set up the umbrella organisation Cecimo in Brussels, which pursues similar goals to the VDW itself, and prioritises European cooperation. The primary focus here was on creating the shared European Machine Tool Exhibition (EWA). Cecimo’s principal remit is to organise a trade fair with European and global prestige. In return, all Cecimo’s member organisations undertake not to hold any trade fairs or exhibitions of their own in the year of the EWA. This arrangement came into force in 1957, and has de facto remained in force up to the present day.
In 1951, Paris was the venue for the first EWA, which has subsequently been held every two years, alternating between Brussels, Hanover, Paris and Milan. Later on, the European Machine Tool Exhibition, subsequently to become the present-day premier global event Exposition Mondiale de la Machine Outil, or EMO for short, has been held only in Paris, Hanover and Milan. 1977 was the EMO’s first year in Hanover. The fair has expanded significantly, in the number of exhibitors (1,619) and the exhibition area (116,675 square metres), compared to the first event in Paris in 1975. The subsequent events have confirmed this encouraging trend right up to the present day. In 2013, the most recent EMO was held in Hanover. These are the figures: 2,100 exhibitors from 43 different countries, 145,000 visitors from more than 100 different countries on a net exhibition area of 180,000 square meters – the EMO Hannover once again demonstrated its leading position as one of the world’s premier trade fairs.
The EMO showcases the entire spectrum of metalworking technology, like chip-cutting, dividing, ablating and forming machine tools, manufacturing systems, high-precision tools, automated material flows, computer technology, industrial electronics and accessories. It has evolved into one of the world’s leading industrial trade fairs, and is acknowledged as an international shop window for innovations in the manufacturing industry. This also evoked a wide response among politicians and in the media, once again evidenced by the large number of national and international state and government representatives that have been attending the EMO in Hanover up to the present day.
NC machines revolutionise the sector
The 1950s saw the first veritable revolution in the machine tool industry: John Parsons from Cambridge, USA, laid the foundations for CNC in the years 1949 to 1952 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Only two years later, the US company Bendix took over the technology that Parsons had invented, using it to develop the first NC machine with punched-card control. 1959 saw the first industrial deployment of an NC machine in Europe. Development work was led by member companies of the VDW, all of whom successively put innovative products and solutions on the market. By 1965, it was already possible to automate tool changes. In 1978, the NC technology was superseded by CNC technology, without which the industrial scene is hardly imaginable nowadays. Some years later, finally, the first machine was linked up to a CAD-/CAM system.
Significant expansion for the German machine tool industry
With the end of the war, Germany’s economic position improved continuously, and in the years from 1950 to 1962 the sector experienced almost uninterrupted growth. In 1962, production output exceeded the magic figure of 3 billion DM. In 1975, Germany was accounting for 20 per cent of the world’s machine tool production output, with an export proportion of more than 50 per cent. During this time, Japan, too, became a strong competitor: in 1980, according to the VDW’s statistics, 22,000 NC machines were produced in Japan, whereas the figure for Germany, by comparison, was a “mere” 3,500. Following some weaker years, the entire sector prospered in the mid-1980s. Production output rose from 13.3 bn DM in 1988 to 15.6 bn DM in 1989, back then the longest upturn in machine tool manufacturing since the years of the German economic miracle.
Bernhard Kapp: a far-sighted helmsman for the VDW
Stuttgart-born Bernhard Kapp ranks among those entrepreneurial personalities of the post-war era who played a crucial role in helping the German machine tool industry to reach its prominent status in the world. The exceptional entrepreneur and grand seigneur of the German machine tool industry was in his long and successful incumbency an indefatigable ambassador for the sector, which he headed in an honorary capacity for almost 29 years, from 1971 to 1999. Besides his successful management of his own company in Coburg, Franconia, he also accepted higher-order remits in the mechanical engineering segment and in the German industrial sector as a whole. In parallel to his function at the VDW, he was, between 1977 and 1980, President of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), represented twice in succession the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries (Cecimo) as President and was finally Vice-President of the Confederation of the German Industry (BDI). In addition, he was the only representative of Germany’s industrial sector who was a member of the German-Soviet Commission for Economic and Commercial Technical Cooperation until the end of the Soviet Union in 1992.
Bernhard Kapp committed himself wholeheartedly to youth development: for example, the VDW has endowed a Study Prize for up-and-coming young engineers. Bernhard Kapp’s term in office was accompanied by innumerable ups and downs in the business cycle. Other challenges, too, had to be met and mastered: these included the introduction of NC control systems, the creation of the single European market, the rise of the Japanese as serious competitors, and finally the process of globalisation.
From 1982 onwards, Bernhard Kapp was assisted in his work by Helmut von Monschaw as the VDW’s Executive Director. He headed the association until his retirement in 2008. Since then, Dr. Wilfried Schäfer has been the VDW’s Executive Director.
VDW globalises its trade fair operations
On an international level, too, the VDW cut quite an impressive figure with its trade fairs. Very early on, Markus von Busse, Chairman of the VDW’s Exhibition Committee in those years, rigorously adopted an approach of international public openness throughout – for both exhibitions and foreign trade. This approach has been retained up to the present day. The VDW’s exhibitions abroad were continually expanded, and more and more new countries were included. Besides the former USSR (the Stanki in Moscow in 1972, 1976, 1980 and 1986), the subsequent years saw events in China (the Metaltec in Beijing in 1987) and South Korea (the EMTO in Seoul in 1981) under the aegis of the VDW. In terms of international competition, it was primarily the USA and Japan whose importance steadily increased. Throughout all these years, the VDW has been motivating its member companies to proactively participate in the trade fairs there, so as to demonstrate a responsively local presence. The VDW itself has always been represented with its own personnel at the most important trade fairs abroad. The region of South and East Asia, in particular, due to its growing importance, was progressively more closely involved in the VDW’s trade fair operations. Nor has this changed up to the present day!
Rapid technical advances have led to ever-closer networking of machines with computer technology, culminating today in the digitisation of production operations. As crucial issues for the future, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things are more topical than ever. All these topics and developments have also been proactively addressed for decades now at the various exhibitions, not least in special shows, by the companies concerned and by the VDW itself.
The most recent example is the first prize for 3D printing, which as the International Additive Manufacturing Award (IAMA) has been conferred since 2014 in alternate years by the two machine tool trade associations, AMT (USA) and the VDW. The next IAMA will be announced at the METAV 2016 in Düsseldorf.
Industrial lasers begin their triumphal progress in production operations
In the field of industrial material machining with lasers, German companies like Trumpf have for decades now played a leading role both commercially and technologically. The principal reason for this is that the industrial sector succeeded very early on in comprehending the laser as a unique tool and deploying it appropriately. Trumpf, for example, has been using laser technology, which comes from the USA, ever since 1979, and has thus expanded its classical portfolio of machine tool products and services. Numerous German machine tool manufacturers followed this example, and likewise incorporated lasers in their machines. Since 1985, Trumpf has been producing its own laser beam sources, thus ushering in a new era in metalworking, which unequivocally demonstrates that lasers are dependable tools in everyday production operations.
Tools are primarily expected to provide dependability and user benefits, manifested in commercial success. Both of these criteria are met by industrial lasers and laser systems, which is one of the cornerstones on which the performative capabilities of the German machine tool and laser industries are based. The importance of the CO2- or solid laser in production technology is exemplified by the fact that meanwhile the international automotive industry can no longer manage without using laser technology. Industrial laser material machining, however, is very much more, and ranges from micro-machining to lithography with UV laser light.
The history of the laser in the German machine tool industry is a story of success. It is also an example for the fruitful interaction between the academic community and the industrial sector. The VDW has been supporting this process for decades, and above all is proactively involved, together with the VDMA’s Metalworking Laser and Laser Systems Working Group founded in 1985, to create the appropriate basis for the sector to ensure tomorrow’s success.
The METAV in Düsseldorf as a national platform
As a national counterpart to the EMO, the VDW has since 1980 been hosting the METAV in Düsseldorf. With this international trade fair for machine tools and manufacturing systems, the association is offering companies that in the EMO-free times want to reach above all the German and European markets, a platform for showcasing their corporate capabilities. In the years 2004 and 2006, the fair was hosted in quick succession in Düsseldorf and Munich. Since 2008, the METAV has again been held solely in Düsseldorf, which is regarded as an ideal venue north of the River Main in the industrial heartland of Europe. These are the figures for the last METAV in 2014: 610 exhibitors on around 28,000 square metres of net exhibition space, with more than 31,000 visitors from 26 different countries.
But if you rest, you rust. This is true of trade fairs as well. That is why in 2016 the METAV will be getting some rejuvenation therapy. With a more tightly focused profile and fresh energy, the METAV will now be kicking off as the 19th International Exhibition for Metalworking Technologies under the slogan of “Power your Business”. Its core focus, the entire metalworking value creation chain, focusing on machine tools and production systems, high-precision tools, automated material flows, computer technology, industrial electronics and accessories, is now being expanded. Four complementary themes will as from 2016 be permanently integrated into the METAV as fixed constituents, and imaged in what are called “areas”: Quality Area, Moulding Area, Additive Manufacturing Area and Medical Area. The aim is to bond additional exhibitor and visitor groupings to the METAV, to give the fair a contemporary, up-to-the-future image, and to develop METAV-specific strengths. The new METAV is being supported by numerous partners from the academic community, trade associations and the media. All of them epitomise high levels of professional competence and guarantee that the METAV 2016 will live up to its reputation as a comprehensive platform for the markets north of the River Main, and the adjoining countries.
Five-axis machining progressively adopted for production operations
In parallel to the industrial laser, in the 1980s five-axis machining was developed, and in subsequent years became the global standard in production operations. The major pioneer in those years was Deckel Maho Pfronten GmbH, now owned by the DMG Mori Group. The company drove this concept purposefully forward despite a lack of initial euphoria among customers. In late 1985, the first machine with an NC swivelling rotary table was premiered for controlled five-axis operations. The rotary movement of the table as the fourth axis and the swivelling movement from and to the machine as the fifth axis were handled by a maintenance-free-brushless feed, which is directly controlled by the adapted control system. The company was not deterred in its thrust for further development. Less than two years later, it achieved a breakthrough for five-axis five-side machining with a newly developed milling and drilling centre. The particular attraction of five-axis machining indubitably lies in the fact that production can be run in a single setting, with concomitant gains in precision. This is because each reclamping procedure from one machine to the next not only costs time (and thus money), but also leads inevitably to losses in precision. So now it’s also possible to completely machine even complex workpieces on an unmanned line through any breaks and into the night, in a single setting. Moreover, five-axis machining improves the surface quality and shortens the manufacturing time involved. A revolution in metalworking. And the trend towards five-axis machining is unbroken. The Asian market, in particular, still offers enormous growth potential: here, the principal focus so far has still been on triple-axis machining.
But if you rest, you rust. Not so the German machine tool industry: the sector seizes every opportunity to stay at the forefront of innovation. In classical five-axis machining, the main focus is on the process environment. Keywords here include simulation and collision monitoring, plus programming and operator control. In addition, the German machine tool industry is doing intensive work on combining production processes with each other. Topical issues include laser structuring, hybrid machines or additive manufacturing.
Shaping the future together
In 1999, Bernhard Kapp stood down from the VDW’s Executive Committee. He was succeeded by Berndt Heller, who headed the association until 2004. The keynote issues in Berndt Heller’s time were the EMO, the world’s premier trade fair for the metalworking industry, many projects for joint research, and improving the image of the machine tool sector.
From 2004 to 2010, the VDW was represented by another Rhinelander in the shape of Carl Martin Welcker. Under his leadership, the VDW expanded its activities on the international markets, for example. In addition to its customarily strong presence at all important trade fairs abroad, the VDW organised numerous symposia in up-and-coming markets in the past years. Welcker also intensified youth recruitment, with numerous activities, including special events for young people at the VDW’s trade fairs. In 2009, for example, the VDW Youth Education and Development Foundation was founded, to anchor the involvement on a lasting basis in organisational terms as well.
The VDW’s Chairman until the end of 2015 is Martin Kapp, son of the long-serving Chairman Dr. Bernhard Kapp. One of the major focuses under the chairmanship of Kapp Junior is supporting member companies in penetrating the high-growth markets, not least in Asia, so that they can benefit appropriately from rising international demand for machine tools. He repeatedly urges the German manufacturers to cooperate more closely with each other, without each of them re-inventing the wheel by itself, but sharing their own experiences and profiting from the others’. He regards a commitment to attracting good recruits as a task of self-evident and lasting importance. The issues of sustainability and energy-efficiency in industrial production operations are further goals he prioritises.
In future, too, the VDW aims to proactively address and co-influence technological trends and up-to-the-future issues like Industry 4.0 or 3D printing. For example, with the International Additive Manufacturing Award (IAMA) specially created in 2014, it honours pioneers and high-performers from the field of additive manufacturing. The prize, which is awarded in alternate years in cooperation with the USA’s trade association AMT, offers the sector an ideal platform for bringing together at a single location the most important players from the academic community, the industrial sector and the political arena, and thus to establish a solid international network. This encourages a creative dialogue in the best sense of the word, the professional community is strengthened and becomes more fruitfully intermeshed. In brief: enhanced interpersonal synergies. A goal that has ben firmly pursued ever since the VDW was founded 125 years ago, and will continue to be a primary focus of its endeavours in the future as well!
Linear drives lift precision to a whole new level
Sometimes an initial spark is needed to ensure that a new technology is actually adopted by the market on a large scale. The year was 1999. The EMO was being held in Paris for the last time. With its vertical machining centre DMG, unveiled the first series-produced machine tool with linear drives in all axes. The major advantage here is that the drive operates entirely without physical contact, thus enabling not only enhanced precision to be achieved, but also and above all very high accuracy, independently of the loading. Once this had been premiered by DMG, other German manufacturers followed suit, and it has meanwhile developed into one of the sector’s technological milestones.
The present and the future
At the dawn of the new millennium, the machine tool sector has evolved into one of the most important industrial segments in Germany, commercially and technologically. Meanwhile, more than 70,000 people are earning almost 15 billion euros a year in turnover. And it’s still rising!
In a technological context, diversification, automation and efficiency are the paramount keywords of the future. Machine tool manufacturers have to take these trends on board as well. More and more processes, machines and tools have to responsively and meticulously matched to customers’ requirements. Aspects like efficiency, sustainability, communication and networking, flexibility, quality and innovative product concepts are playing an ever-more-crucial role. The intelligence of future production systems is a vital lever for further advances. It can be anticipated that industrial companies, in particular, will be most impactfully affected by issues like cyber-physical systems (CPS). The resultant “Internet of Things” enables resource-economical, highly efficient production processes to be developed.
VDW also conceptually involved in other trade fairs
Above and beyond its own trade fairs, the VDW supports other metalworking fairs in Germany and worldwide. Since 2008, for example, it has been the conceptual sponsor of the AMB (International Exhibition for Metal Working), which has positioned itself as an event for metal-cutting technology. Since 2011, moreover, it has been the conceptual sponsor of the Blechexpo (International Trade Fair for Sheet Metal Working), and since 2015 der Moulding Expo (International Trade Fair for Tool, Pattern and Mould Making). All three events are held in Stuttgart. In early 2016, moreover, in parallel to the Expomaq in Mexico, as one of the world’s fastest-growing production locations for automobiles, a German sectoral exhibition will be held. This, too, will be mainly organised by the VDW and its members.
For over 70 years, too, the VDW has been supporting the participation of its member companies at production technology trade fairs in the major export markets, by submitting to the German Ministry of Economic Affairs applications for German government involvement. This helps small and mid-tier companies to tap into new markets. To complement this, since 2004, the association has also been organising what are called technology symposia at regular intervals, up to twice a year, at which the German machine tool industry has been showcasing its capabilities in an exclusive, compact venue, with top-ranking participants, for a country’s largest and most important customer sectors.
What was true more than 100 years ago is still today a paramount driving force and guarantor for the success of the VDW’s trade fairs. To paraphrase Arthur Schopenhauer: “Trade fairs aren’t everything – but without them nothing is anything”. Here’s to another century of VDW trade fairs!
Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things
Keyword “Industry 4.0”: this vision is a network in which intelligent objects exchange information with each other, trigger actions, and control each other reciprocally, without a human being necessarily having to be involved. This networking enables operational processes to be optimised and services provided for multifaceted application categories. The Internet of Things is changing products, sectors, business models and jobs. Without a doubt, Industry 4.0 will also conquer more and more areas of the machine tool industry. Databases are being created with vast amounts of information, which have to be drawn up, maintained, evaluated and protected against misuse. The approach of Industry 4.0 is for German machine tool manufacturers the (r)evolutionary synthesis of what has for years been steadily evolving. Thinking about CPS is just one of the consequences here for the future.
Looking back on 125 years of technological development in the German machine tool industry, it becomes clear that today’s success can look back on a lengthy tradition. In order to preserve this on a long-term basis, it is today more imperative than ever to create the foundations we need for the future with prudent investments in research, development and education. The German machine tool industry is well equipped for this purpose, and can look into the future with full confidence in the knowledge that excellent preconditions are in place.
Establishing VDW recruitment foundation
Qualified young recruits are crucial
VDW still prioritises rigorous recruitment strategies – as it has for the last 125 years
Excellent new young engineers rank among the most important building blocks for the global success of the machine tool industry, with its preponderance of mid-tier companies. Engineers and properly trained skilled workers are in fact communicators and mediators between different disciplines. Their task is to translate technical concepts and divergent requirements into a fully functional, responsively marketable product or a technical process. This view is not a recent realisation, but extends far back into the VDW’s history.
Attracting new young talent and recruiting properly qualified employees are of major importance in this context. The VDW has been supporting its member companies in meeting and mastering this challenge almost since the beginning. Intensive fast-tracking of young high-flyers exerts a significant influence here, particularly, on economic performance and the innovative vigour of the business community, thus contributing towards securing the future of Germany’s industrial base.
VDW’s commitment to proactive university sponsorship
Back in 1924, at the Leipzig machine tool trade fair, the VDW was already devoting itself to systematic recruitment initiatives. What was called a Students’ Day enabled around 1,000 young engineers to visit this sectoral exhibition and establish some initial personal contacts with prospective employers. In all these years, the VDW had realised early on that engineering students give preference to the up-and-coming industries of automaking and electrical engineering, which promise a faster career trajectory. The association aimed to counter this perception at an early stage. So it was all the more gratifying to note the wide and enthusiastic reception from young academics at the fair. The VDW’s recruitment drive was thus launched.
In subsequent years, the association went one step further. Since the end of the 1950s, it has been intensively involved in university sponsorship. Among the principal reasons applying was a concern about appropriately qualified recruits. The association’s leadership had very soon realised that the lack of highly qualified design engineers could become an existence-threatening issue for machine tool manufacturers. To combat this, the VDW has been continually sponsoring projects at universities of applied science with appropriate funding.
Machine tool sector prioritises image enhancement
A shortage of recruits, however, often also goes hand in hand with inadequate image management. This is the case in the machine tool industry as well. For many decades, the sector had neglected, in contrast to the automotive and electrical engineering industries, to create a high public profile. On the contrary: the German machine tool industry kept discreetly in the background, leaving the field to other branches of industry. In 1967, this was to change abruptly. The VDW’s Executive Committee decided to set up a separate department for press and public relations. The association was here pursuing two goals: firstly, besides general image management, the primary aim was to raise awareness worldwide of the VDW’s trade-fair activities. Secondly, to increase awareness of the sector among young people looking for a job. In 1970, these efforts went hand in hand with the first campaign aimed at apprentices. This consisted of a whole bundle of measures, like advertising in youth periodicals, a test game for young people, a prospectus, a list of companies, and an instructors’ competition. The campaign proved to be more successful than originally expected. And that not only because 2,000 young people requested the test game produced specifically for this purpose, but above all because the association’s leadership was increasingly aware that the machine tool sector had to significantly upgrade its public profile. The new term of “image management” was coined in mid-1971.
Study Prize honours excellent research work
In order to increase awareness of the machine tool industry among students, in particular, the VDW’s leadership decided in 1985 to establish a Study Prize of their own, as an accolade for outstanding studies in the field of machine tool manufacturing. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Hermann von Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres in Aachen, ten studies were for the first time awarded the VDW’s Study Prize in 1987. In the subsequent years, the Study Prize was last awarded at the METAV in Düsseldorf in 2006.
The association sets up its own Youth Foundation
In 2009, the VDW set up its own Youth Education and Development Foundation, headed by Peter Bole, in Bielefeld, near the machine tool conglomerate DMG Mori. The foundation is tasked with fostering and implementing recruitment in the machine tool sector. It evolved from the “New talent development in the machine tool sector” initiative, and has since then enabled multifaceted projects and activities to be lastingly implemented and progressed. Since the foundation was set up, it has succeeded in sustainably driving forward the educational thrust in the machine tool sector. The foundation sees its remit for its daily operations not least as a central network for partners from the business community, politicians and institutions that have signed up to sandwich courses in the field of metalworking.
The VDW’s Youth Education and Development Foundation is tasked with advanced training for instructors and teaching staff at vocational schools and colleges, and in parallel to this with developing action-driven teaching materials. Numerous vocational colleges from all over Germany are involved in projects with industrial partners. In addition, the VDW’s Youth Education and Development Foundation organises large numbers of advanced training initiatives on different topics, taking all due account of current developments like computer-aided training and the changes caused by Industry 4.0.
Special Show for Young People at the VDW’s trade fairs
Since the end of the 1990s, the VDW has been targeting as-yet-unqualified recruits for the sector under the slogan of “Mechanical Engineer – Job with Power” at the association’s own trade fairs. Since then, several tens of thousands of young people have already been informed at the Special Shows for Young People at the EMO Hannover and the METAV in Düsseldorf at first hand about technical career training and degree courses in engineering. Most recently, the “Action 2008” campaign under the aegis of the VDW’s Youth Education and Development Foundation was expanded to include an event at the AMB in Stuttgart. The Special Show for Young People at the trade fairs is very frequently visited by prominent politicians. The highlight so far, without a doubt, was the visit of Germany’s President Joachim Gauck at the EMO Hannover in 2013.
The idea behind the initiative was to enable young people to experience the fascination of engineering live and hands-on. Where could this better be spotlighted than at an international trade fair, representing everything that constitutes the advantages of a technical career in the field of production technology: internationality, innovation, high-tech, in-depth comprehension of quality and service imperatives, and much, much more.
Attracting technically qualified recruits will in the future, too, remain a dominant issue for the VDW. What counts here is the principle that the interest levels of young people and future engineers, and of teachers and apprentices as well, achieved over many years of continuously patient endeavour, need to be maintained and steadily upgraded. The VDW is here prioritising close solidarity with its member companies. After all, the search for properly qualified recruits is not something any of us can afford to ignore!
Heinz-Jürgen Prokop from Trumpf to take over as the VDW’s Chairman
Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Prokop has been elected unanimously as the new Chairman by the Executive Committee of the VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) and the Sector Association Machine Tools and Manufacturing Systems within the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) in its autumn meeting. He will thus effective 1 January 2016 succeed Martin Kapp, who in accordance with the bylaws will be stepping down after six years once his second term of office comes to an end.
“I am grateful for the confidence placed in me, and am looking forward to my future remit in the VDW,” said Heinz-Jürgen Prokop after his election. “The German machine tool industry is on the right track for success. For the VDW, the task now is to support its member companies in future-shaping issues as well, like internationalisation, energy-efficiency, securing new recruits, additive manufacturing processes and Industry 4.0, and smoothing their path. I want to make a proactive contribution towards this,” he added.
Heinz-Jürgen Prokop is 57 years old, and as a member of the board at Trumpf Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH + Co. KG in Ditzingen responsible for development and purchasing. After passing his abitur and obtaining a degree in process engineering, and then being awarded a doctorate at Stuttgart University, he began his career as a Design Manager at Trumpf Lasertechnik GmbH + Co. KG. In 1993, he joined Krupp Maschinentechnik GmbH in Essen for nine years as a General Manager. This was followed by further posts as a General Manager of Fritz Studer AG in Switzerland and Frigoblock Grosskopf GmbH in Essen. In 2011, he returned to Trumpf in Ditzingen as Managing Director.
The VDW builds bridges for global success
The world’s machine tool industry has been reporting vigorous growth for decades now. So it’s unsurprising that the German machine tool industry nowadays exhibits an export ratio of up to 70 per cent. This is crucially attributable to high demand levels from the newly industrialising countries. While the initial sales markets were still to be found in the UK, Russia and the USA, since 1990 the newly industrialising countries in Asia have been evolving into the highest-volume sales markets. China, above all, is nowadays responsible for around half the growth. At the same time, Chinese machine tool manufacturers constitute increasingly serious competition, which meanwhile, referenced to the absolute number of machines sold, puts them in first place on a global comparison.
How can the German machine tool industry maintain is top position on the world market in the future as well? According to a study commissioned by the VDW in 2011, around a third of all interviewees regard the internationalisation of their business as the most important task for the years ahead. But technological and innovation-driven leadership are also crucial in the context of international competition. In this context, energy-efficiency, material savings and sustainability in production operations constitute the principal focus of research and development work.
For many years now, the German machine tool industry has operated on the principle that new developments and solutions form the paramount mainstay for upgrading still further its competitive position on the international scene. In line with this precept, the VDW has, in conjunction with the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), developed the Blue Competence platform, where firms can offer and market their solutions.
Upgrading a competitive position on the international stage also necessitates a strong international presence. Here, for what is meanwhile more than 70 years, the VDW has been proactively involved, supporting the participation of its member companies at production technology trade fairs in the major export markets, and twice a year organises what are called technology symposia. Moreover, contacts with national and international machine tool associations are maintained and fostered. In addition, the VDW has since 2013 been represented in China by its own liaison office in Shanghai. Thus the association is also putting in place the requisite bridges on the spot, so as to create the optimum starting conditions for its member companies in a fiercely competitive global business environment.
Georg Schlesinger: the founding father of the VDW’s joint research
Georg Schlesinger: the founding father of the VDW’s joint research
It was in the 1920s that the VDW put in place crucial foundations for its work of enduring significance for its future, by bringing together the academic and research communities. The most important prime mover of those years was none other than Prof. Dr. Georg Schlesinger. As Deputy Chairman and Honorary Executive Director, he during this period set important milestones in the association’s history. Professor Schlesinger, who from 1904 onwards headed the first Faculty for Machine Tools and Factories at what is today TU Berlin University of Applied Science, is regarded as the founding father of academic research in the fields of production technology and business management. Under his leadership, valuable research was accomplished in an alliance between his faculty in Berlin and the VDW. For example, Professor Schlesinger, on behalf of the VDW, the VDI, the VDMA and the Confederation of German Shipyards presented a seminal work designed as a comprehensive study of the thread system in common use back then both in Germany and abroad. This work still constitutes the foundation for subsequent standardisation of the most important German thread systems.
The young scholar’s academic reputation was just as undisputed as his authority in the business community, a stature attributable primarily to his publications on a multiplicity of subjects, some of them appearing before the First World War. Contemporary witnesses described Georg Schlesinger as a person with an intuitive empathy for the human condition and with a masterful command of the German language, but who at the same time was a kind teacher and reliable friend to his students. This dependability and the general esteem in which Professor Schlesinger was held proved to be a crucial asset to the VDW in subsequent years. The bandwidth of his interests and capabilities is impressive: besides his teaching workload, his academic output also covered the rationalisation of operations management, technical and engineering issues, substitute materials and material savings, accident prevention, plus apprentice-related, organisational and accounting issues. All of them topics whose importance has not changed significantly up to the present day.
The VDW begins to fund research work in 1922
The birthdate of official research funding dates back to 1922, since it was in this year that the VDW for the first time endowed faculties for machine tool studies at the universities in Aachen, Darmstadt and Dresden, with the substantial sum of 100,000 Reichsmarks each. For the subsequent years, the association promised further funding for academic institutes. Though in those years devaluation meant the financing flowed more freely, nonetheless, with this research funding policy the VDW has pursued an approach that has been and still is of directly insightful benefit to its members.
In 1928, the VDW began forming a group of member firms whose products do not compete with each other, for the purpose of exchanging empirical feedback on different fields like design work, manufacturing, sales and administration. The first mutual feedback group for machine tool manufacturers (abbreviated to the ERFA Group) was set up. The prudent selection of firms for establishing groups of this kind showed how difficult it still was for those involved back then to shed the constraints of their trade secrets. Nonetheless, the focus has always been on the shared goal, which right up to the present day has formed the central link underpinning the VDW’s joint research work.
In March 1937, on the VDW’s stand at the Technical Trade Fair in Leipzig, front-ranking professors of mechanical engineering got together with the aim of institutionalising vigorous and unfettered mutual feedback for fostering academic work in the shared specialism. The fact that the founding session was held under the topographical aegis of the VDW once again evidences the close ties that have always existed between the faculties and the association. When the Second World War broke out, however, the VDW’s involvement in research work came entirely to a halt.
A new beginning after the Second World War
After the war had ended, it was Otto Kienzle, Professor for Production Technology at Hanover University, who seized the initiative and guided the association’s meanwhile-fallow research work into new paths. In 1948, this led to the Production Technology University Group (HGF) being set up in Wiesbaden, which in 1989 was renamed as the Academic Society for Production Technology (WGP). Finally, in 1954, industrial joint research as we comprehend it today was launched in the VDW, and in 1962 the association became a member of the “Otto von Guericke” e. V. (AiF) working group of industrial research associations.
In those years, however, there were important fundamental questions to clarify: how can corporate interests be reconciled with freedom of research? At times, there was even a fear that the machine tool industry’s providing funding from its own resources might result in reduced research subsidies from the public purse. But this problem could also be solved, by dividing the research jobs involved into three categories, and in 1958 codifying this in the “Guidelines for Performing VDW Research Jobs”. In the same time period, clarity was likewise achieved concerning the size of the funding. VDW Chairman Gerhard Schaudt was targeting a total of half a million DM. Half of this was to come from the association, the other half from the machine tool industry itself. The association’s share was intended for general funding in the specialised field of machine tools at universities of applied science and engineering colleges, while the companies’ contribution was earmarked for research projects at universities and comparable institutions.
New challenges need new approaches
In the 1980s, economic prosperity and technological innovations in the global machine tool industry developed into hitherto undreamed-of dimensions. This posed new challenges for research work and its funding. New bodies like the AiF, the VDMA’s Research and Development Committee, and the VDMA’s Mechanical Engineering Research Forum were set up, in which the VDW was actively involved. Cooperation with the Production Technology University Group was intensified, and described as exemplary on an international comparison. During this time, for example, the VDW funded study trips for professors and representatives from the industrial sector, organised the distribution of the HGF’s annual short reports, hosted design conferences and seminar series with engineers and academics, coordinated and financed basic and component research, plus its own, empirically based VDW research reports, and addressed the issues of recruitment and advanced training for engineers, an increasingly important factor in the light of continuing technical progress.
The VDW opposes direct government subsidies
At the same time, the progressively more vital field of NC technology was also receiving state subsidies. In 1971, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs even launched its own “Computer-Aided Development and Design in Machine Tool Manufacturing” research project here, for which the VDW was asked to act as a sponsor. The involvement did not, however, materialise, since the association was opposed on principle to this kind of subsidisation policy. The reason given for this stance was that direct government subsidies can be too easily misconstrued as interventional investment guidance, resulting in distorted competition and thus running counter to the VDW’s commitment to economic liberalism. Instead, the association has since then preferred indirect subsidies, such as subsidies for research and development personnel costs, of which 266 metalworking companies in 1979 received almost 22 million DM from the public purse. To quote VDW Chairman Dr. Bernhard Kapp: “I regard it as absurd when the money that has previously been taken away from all competent companies in the form of taxes and levies, following the deduction of immense administrative expenditure and costs, is then distributed to those who need it the least and have in no way earned it, simply because they possess the most elastic consciences and teams of crafty hustlers for submitting successful funding applications.”
Research funding moved up to a European level
With German reunification, not only did the two parts of the nation come closer together again in the context of the machine tool industry – the VDW, too, increasingly prioritised international research funding. This was due not least to the fact that progressively more regulations of the European Community were taking priority over domestic German legislation, and a growing proportion of the funding had since then been coordinated from Brussels. For example, the EC Commission was planning to increase the annual funding from 4 to 8 billion DM in 1989. Five per cent of the money was earmarked for the European machine tool industry.
In parallel to this, the VDW was progressing its independent funding activities for research and training. Nor had anything changed in the tried-and-tested structure: there were firstly the project-independent grants for the Production Technology University Group, and secondly the joint research work funded from the association’s own resources. In addition, the VDW’s Technical Committee every year proposed some research projects to the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs for financing by the ministry through the AiF. Thus every year a total of almost 1.8 million DM were available for distribution, every year six to seven projects were completed, and the same number were launched.
The projects’ subject-matters revealed a definite connection with recent strategic studies, particularly the second one in 1984. The second study, moreover, produced a specific result in the shape of the “VDW Market Information System”, which as from 1988 has provided data on worldwide production and foreign trade statistics. The two subsequent studies dealt with South-East Asia and with developments in selected European countries. These strategic studies constitute one of the association’s most important tasks. They show in the form of specific information where and in what trend patterns competitive situations are changing, how global markets and production output are developing, which upcoming research thrusts and technological advances are incipiently discernible already. Even though the results of these studies do not always find universal acceptance among all the VDW’s member companies, they are highly thought of overall. From then now on, they have been used as an instrument for studies on higher-order issues.
The studies, moreover, make it clear that in recent years the amount of market data and relevant information has risen significantly. At the same time, it has become increasingly difficult to procure and analyse this information, so that a single company in the machine tool industry, traditionally dominated as it is by mid-tier companies, would be overstretched. The necessary consequence is a welcome compulsion towards collaboration under the aegis of the association. Nothing about this has changed up to the present day. In 1999, the Machine Tool and Production Processes Research Association (FWF) was founded inside the VDW as an autonomous legal entity, and from then on has ensured central coordination of the VDW’s research activities. In 2010, the FWF was renamed as the VDW-Forschungsinstitut e. V., and since then has operated as a research institute under the explicit umbrella brandname of VDW as well.
Stronger and faster together than alone
Even though its name has changed several times over the years – basically, nothing has really changed in terms of joint research: the VDW’s Research Institute organises application-driven, pre-competition shared research work for German machine tool manufacturers. In eight working groups, around 140 active staff from the companies define subjects, acquire project funding, assign research orders, and prepare the results for publication. In addition, the VDW’s Research Institute likewise handles tasks involving project management and controlling. The current topics being explored also include research fields in the context of Industry 4.0, for which a new working group was recently set up.
As a research association, the institution synergises the needs of 130 VDW member companies and other interested firms when it comes to filling the gaps in our knowledge of issues specifically relating to machine tools or production technology. What was already true one hundred years ago is still relevant today: the biggest advantage of companies’ involvement in the VDW’s Research Institute is the opportunity to work on specialised topics together with other firms involved. The obstacle that this may entail sitting at the same table as direct competitors is swiftly overcome. After all, for decades the concept of industrial joint research has been based on shared handling of tasks that are important for the progress of the sector, but which are too costly for individual companies, particularly the small and mid-tier ones, to handle alone.
For the VDW’s Research Institute, this means that the working groups address different facets of process technology, machinery development, and higher-order control-system or safety issues. Some companies are involved in several different working groups simultaneously. This helps to create networks, both within the companies themselves and also in the entire machine tool industry, which complement each other and explore new subject areas. In this stable matrix, gaps in terms of knowledge or experience can be closed, thus strengthening the mid-tier industry as a whole.
The success of industrial joint research validates the VDW’s strategy. In line with the motto of “Shaping the future together”, we shall be called upon in the future, too, to meet and master the challenges and tasks of tomorrow with maximum commitment and proactive vigour.
To the next 125 years!
The obligations of tradition
In comparison to the foundation year of 1891, when delivery conditions and protective tariffs were still the major issues, we are now living in a world of accelerating change, global markets and digital communication. With a keenly honed instinct for future developments, the VDW will continue to prove an indispensable service provider for its members and its partners in the business community.
The Red Book is now available on CD-ROM
Since 1997, the Red Book has been available not only in printed form, but also as a CD-ROM.
By now, customers will find in the reference book over 400 machine types and more than 2,000 products over 400 machine types and more than 2,000 products, meticulously illustrated right down to the technical details. The publication offers an accurate and detailed overview covering the entire performative spectrum of German machine tools. It can be researched in terms of both products and companies. A link leads to the website of the firm involved. In line with the international presence of German manufacturers, the nomenclature is available in German, English, French, Italian and Spanish.
The Red Book has its own website
Since 2001, the VDW has been using the internet to render the publication globally accessible, at www.rotes-buch.de. If you rest, you rust – and the field of digital communication is no exception. In order to keep pace with technological advances, the VDW will in future be offering the Red Book as what is called a USB webkey, which will thus supersede as a medium the long-serving CD-ROM. With an initial print run of 5,000 copies, the Red Book began its triumphal progress almost a century ago, and will without a doubt continue in the future to be the premier work of reference for the sector’s products.
The year 1917 not only constituted the foundation year of the German Institute for Standardisation but also saw the VDW’s first steps in the field of standardisation work. Through Dr. Georg Schlesinger, Germany’s industrial sector received a vote on the Executive Board of the Standardisation Committee. Nonetheless, it did not take long before the VDW set up an institution of its own.
In 1918, the VDW’s Technical Standardisation Committee for Machine Tools (NWM) was created. Up to the present day, the institution deals with all standardisation-related issues in the field of machine tools on national, European and international levels.
Both organisations have since then enjoyed a cooperative relationship of mutual trust. While the DIN, on behalf of the business community, attempts to formulate dependable standards, the NWM supports it in all relevant issues as an external standardisation committee, and directs a focus on cost reduction coupled with simultaneously enhanced efficiency in everyday production operations. This is made possible only by standardised testing methods and interfaces, plus harmonised standards for safety engineering. The importance of standards for the industrial sector and the economy as a whole can be quantified in figures: it is estimated that standards contribute around 17 billion euros to German GDP, since they cause international restrictions to be eliminated.