In the new Laender of Germany a large number of manufacturing enterprises will only be able to become competitive on a European scale if they are able to achieve large increases in productivity and quality of output. Replacement of outdated and substandard production equipment would require an investment greatly in excess of the funds available. A number of the surviving machine tool manufacturers in the new Laender have joined forces to apply recent developments in factory communications and control techniques to enable their machines to be upgraded. As a result, the manufacturing companies using their equipment will improve their own competitiveness and simultaneously the machine tool vendors will protect their installed base against erosion from Asian sources.
The various subsystems which constitute machine tools for drilling, milling, turning, gear-cutting, etc have different life-spans, and some subsystems undergo a number of innovation cycles during the total life-time of the machine. In many cases electrical control systems, drives, CNC controllers, CAD/CAM interfaces and factory communications modules can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire machine. The project partners will develop generic modernisation programs for conventional, NC and CNC machines using experience gained in this field at the Universitaet Bremen.
30 to 40% of conventional and 80% of the NC-machine tools are applicable for different modernization strategies. Particularly SME's need modern "low-cost" equipment to improve their productivity and quality. In this kind modernization is a suitable way to realize this aim.