Mechanical engineering is facing major challenges. In addition to a general reluctance to invest, advancing digitalization and increasing demands for sustainable production require long-term concepts and major investments. As part of its future strategy, EMCO GmbH from Austria has declared digitalization to be a central development topic and is working intensively on improving its ecological footprint. Wirtschaftsforum,

Wirtschaftsforum: Dr. Nolte, your company is all about turning and milling machines. Do you offer standard or customized solutions?

Dr. Markus Nolte: Both. We have a broad portfolio of standard solutions with which we can cover many requirements. However, we have noticed that the market increasingly wants turnkey and customer-specific solutions. That is why the majority of our machines are now individually developed and built according to our customers’ wishes. For these developments, we build on our standard machines and equip them with special functions. There is also an increasing demand for automation solutions. Here, too, we can respond with both standard and customized solutions.

Wirtschaftsforum: Please give us an example of an individual development.

Dr. Markus Nolte: We currently have a machine in final production for a major German company. It is a turn-key project with a milling center as the basis. We have equipped this with a second rotary table, so that two workpieces can be machined at the same time. We have combined the machine with sophisticated automation for loading and unloading and for testing. This involves processing components for electromobility with different materials. The system has automated material recognition and adapts the processing parameters to the material accordingly.

Wirtschaftsforum: What standard solutions do you offer?

Dr. Markus Nolte: Emco offers standard solutions for turning, milling and turn-milling. For turning, we offer a product portfolio of horizontal and vertical turning machines. In milling, the spectrum ranges from 3-, 4+1- and 5-axis milling centers to large traveling column and portal machines. Our Hyperturn range offers combined turning-milling with the high-end products of the Hyperturn Powermill series. In addition, EMCO is known worldwide for innovative and robust training machines for turning and milling.

Wirtschaftsforum: How do you assess the current market situation?

Dr. Markus Nolte: We are seeing a clear reluctance to invest in the DACH region. The economic situation is tense and the German market, which is important for us, is in recession. As a capital goods industry, machine tool manufacturing has been hit hard, and we cover a broad spectrum, which makes us somewhat more resilient.

Wirtschaftsforum: What are your topics for the coming months?

Dr Markus Nolte: We will continue to focus intensively on digitalization. With Emconnect, we have already set up our own platform on which we bundle all our digital services, such as remote maintenance, data analysis, the optimization of parameters for machine processing or manuals. All information is available to our customers in the form of apps. We will expand the platform to include functions such as energy management and sustainability. We are also currently exploring the possibilities of artificial intelligence.

We will also continue to develop the automation of our machines. We already offer a whole range of standard automation solutions, such as our bar feeders, cobots and flexible robots. This is important for our customers, not least in view of the ongoing shortage of skilled workers. They must be able to work highly efficiently and unmanned. The specifications are correspondingly demanding.

Wirtschaftsforum: So sustainability is also a driver for new developments?

Dr. Markus Nolte: Our major customers have been very active in the area of ESG for years and are increasingly involving their suppliers. We have to position ourselves accordingly and offer the best solutions. For small and medium-sized companies, it’s mostly about energy management and cost optimization. We ourselves are also working on making our value creation as sustainable as possible.

We have installed photovoltaics on our factory buildings and have our own energy management system. Austria already uses a high proportion of green electricity. We use LEDs and check all our operating materials and consumables.

Wirtschaftsforum: Do you have a vision for EMCO?

Dr. Markus Nolte: We had our annual strategy meeting six weeks ago and defined our long-term goals. We want to grow significantly, not through an even broader portfolio, but through a stronger focus. This will give us the freedom to digitalize and automate even more. We have defined our goal as being one of the leading machine tool manufacturers in the areas of digitalization and automation in five years’ time.