Moscow Exhibition Shows The Extent Of Advances In Technology

More than 500 companies from 23 countries participated in Russia's MASHEX show this year, from May 29 to June 1, including Haas Automation Inc., Mori Seiki, Iscar Metals Inc., Faro Technologies, and Heidenhain Corp.

The show ran bi-annually from 1989 to 2006 in a series of buildings also used for state fairs. This year, MASHEX became an annual show, moved into the Crocus Expo Exhibition Center in Moscow.

The facility has two modern halls with 934,300 sq. ft. of floor space, anda third hall that is under construction will increase the space to 2.26 million sq. ft. For comparison, Chicago's McCormick Place offers 2.2 million sq. ft. in its exhibit halls. The MASHEX show's managers were expecting 15,000 attendees.

Many companies that typically have their own booths at IMTS or at Westec and Eastec were at MASHEX, exhibiting in a distributor's booth with other companies. Nearly a dozen others, companies such as Iscar, Walter AG and Omron had their own space.

Besides the familiar companies, MASHEX also provided the opportunity to visit with Russian machine tool manufacturers such as the Ivanovo Heavy Machine Tool Building Works (www.invanovocenter.ru), the Ryazan Machine Tool Plant (www.rsz.ru) and the Savelovsky Machine Building Factory, whose equipment has not appeared at shows in the United States. These companies have been in operation for more than 50 years, and the 5-axis high speed machining centers, horizontal machining and boring machines, and CNC lathes they produce appear to be every bit on par with anything produced in the West.

An Ivanovo machining center, for example, can be equipped with automatic pallet changers, 40-tool turrets, and window that permits the operator a view of an operation that is unimpeded by fluid splash.

The Ryazan Machine Tool Plant claims to bethe largest machine tool plant in Eastern Europe, boasting a workforce of 3,000 employees. The plant said it has supplied more than 20,000 CNC machines that operate in 80 countries around the world.

The Savelov Machine Tool Company belongs to Russia's Aircraft Ministry, and produces lathes, CNC vertical and horizontal milling machines and CNC machining centers, along with tool and part changing robots.

Most of the Russianbuilt equipment carried Fanuc controllers, and have options for Siemens or Heidenhain units. It is interesting to note that few of the operator panels had Russian writing —functions such as "Jog" and "Emergency Stop" are printed in English.

For the first time in MASHEX history, an American was invited to speak as part of this year's conference: John Byrd III, president of The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT).

Byrd pointed out to the audience that "it took 30 years for the United States to fully implement CNC machining, but only 15 to 20 years for Japan and 5 to 10 years for China to reach the same point of development." He went on to warn the audience that the job loss in US industry has largely been due to improved productivity, and that Russia will likely experience the same.

The impact of automation will be difficult to accept in a country that was the birthplace of the "worker's paradise," where every person was guaranteed a job, he said.

"Projects are coming up in Russia that are incurring interest in welding robots," Jan Lindmark, president of Motoman Robotics Europe, said in addressing people who were examining his company's products.

He cited expanded needs in heavy welding for offhighway equipment, and that companies such as Toyota, GM and Caterpillar already are opening plants in Russia. The quick-growth automotive companies will require local suppliers of tools, equipment and materials, in the same way that Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and others did after they opened plants in the United States.

This year's MASHEX served notice to the world that, clearly, Russia isnot lagging in machining technology. The Italians and Germans who made up the bulk of the customers in exhibitor booths appear quite willing to choose Russian machine tools, so it is up to the Western manufacturers to increase their presence at this show if they expect to fully compete in the world marketplace.

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