Sharjah – MENA Herald: Given the low oil prices and the impact it could have on the manufacturing sector, upgrading and adopting innovative technology is the only way ahead for the region’s steel fabrication and metal working industry to sustain its growth, according to industry experts.

Assisting fabricators by providing them access to global manufacturers and facilitating the adoption of latest innovations, the ongoing 12th SteelFab trade show is turning out to be a must-visit for the regional steel fabrication and metal working industry. The four-day show, which is showcasing more than 370 exhibitors representing nearly 1,000 brands from 43 countries, will come to an end on Wednesday (January 20) at Expo Centre Sharjah.

“SteelFab is the true reflection of the industry’s growth and a visit to the show clearly displays the evolution of the industry over these years. Machinery requirements of the industry have constantly been changing in view of fast changing demand dynamics that calls for quality and competitiveness. Innovation is the name of the game now,” said Mr. Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, CEO, Expo Centre Sharjah.

Industry observers point out that most of the fabrication works that were done manually just a few years ago are now fully or partially automated. “The regional industry has been quick in catching up with global trends and though there is a lag in technology adaptation, fabricators are keeping pace and are also flexible in adapting to new solutions,” says Mr. Midfa.

For example, in the past three years, traditional punch presses have been augmented with modern laser technology that is more powerful and flexible for sheet metal part processing. SteelFab 2016 is featuring more than 10 laser machines from leading manufacturers, including Baykal, Durma, LVD and Trumpf and, on live display, helping visitors understand first-hand experience how they consume less power and offer better safety, material scrap savings, cutting properties, low maintenance, flexible operation, improved edge quality and faster changeover.

“There is a continuous growth in demand towards Laser Machinery. It very much depends on the application itself as whether the CO2 or fiber laser is more suitable. We, as TRUMPF, are happy to be able to offer both technologies to our Middle East customers. We also see a trend towards more automation because customers want to increase the utilization of their machines with automation modules and this applies for all technologies like punching, laser and bending which TRUMPF covers. Another trend is that more customers are asking for laser welding, because laser welding will improve welding quality and avoid re-finishing work. TRUMPF is able to offer various solutions in laser welding from small to very large systems” said Mr. Eberhard Hoelzgen – Head of International Sales for TRUMPF Werkzeugmaschinen GmbH. “We are continuously participating at SteelFab using it as a platform to introduce new machinery & new features. This year our highlight is the Brightline Fiber which is able to cut any material thick or thin, without disadvantages” he added.

Simco Industrial Machinery Trading, another regular participant at SteelFab is displaying the Baykal laser for the first-time. “Big projects require critical accuracy, special materials and fast & accurate cutting. All this are possible with the laser, especially the fiber laser. At SIMCO we sell the entire range of sheet metal machinery and we are also displaying a Baykal laser who can also make over-sized machines” sad Mr. Mohammed Abu Dakka, Division Manager at Simco.

LVD who is also displaying a laser machine has been in this market since 1984. “We are one of the first companies with sales and after-sales and offer the complete knowledge, application-experience and back-up providing the right solution to our customers with a full range of sheet metal machinery” said Mr. Majid Qutteineh of Easy Metal Forming LVD. “With the evolution of laser cutting technology, new technology such as Fibre laser has put it within reach of fabricators as they can face the challenges of increased part-complexity, small batches and short lead times. Advantages such as high speed cutting, low maintenance and ease of use through touch-screen controls are attracting customers to complement their punch presses with laser machines” said Mr. Matthew Fowles, Group Marketing Manager, LVD Company NV.

Business Point International is presenting the DNE Laser at SteelFab 2016. “We are pioneering the mid-range Fiber Laser for these markets and are augmenting sales with a high level of technical support in the region. We also feel that laser technology has seen growing demand in the last few years and we are gearing up to meet further demand” said Mr. Mian Mahmood Ahmad, Managing Director, Business Point International.

Another technology that has seen strong acceptance here is robotics. Five editions ago, SteelFab featured only one or two robots for applications in welding, whereas now, SteelFab 2016 is featuring ABB Robotics, Fanuc Robotics, OTC and Kawasaki Robotics and others. This shows the amount of modernization and automation in the Middle East as more robots are being used in welding, painting, material handling and factory automation. “There has been a big-change in the acceptance of Robotics. We are working closely with ABB robotics to integrate welding solutions for the sheet-metal & fabrication industry. The customization we have achieved has impressed our clients and resulted in further orders” said Mr. Nabil Nais of Ultimate Motion Technology, showcasing robotics at the show.

Another exhibitor Comex International is partnering with Tiesse Robot, the integrator for Kawasaki Robotics at SteelFab 2016. “We have been working with robotics in this market for the last 11 years, but not until recently we have seen a good demand and enquiries for robotic applications. Industry in the region is now interested in finding quality and accuracy in their output and robotics is the solution as it addresses these concerns while reducing the reliance on manual labour” said Mr. Mostafa El-Hageen, General Manager of Comex International.

The display of metal-cutting segment has also grown significantly at SteelFab, signifying the evolution of a ‘manufacturing’ market in the Middle East. Over the past editions, the number of metal-cutting machines on display has significantly increased, supported by local distributors. At SteelFab 2016, exhibitors such as Passtech (Doosan), Al Ruqee (Hyundai Wia), Aliyat (Haas and Dugard), Hughes Armstrong, Al Nasr Engineering, Gulftec (XYZ Machine Tools), Eurogulf (Hwacheon) and others are participating.

SteelFab is running at Expo Centre Sharjah and open to trade visitors from 10 am to 7pm. 20th January is the Last day.