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Rector of the MSTU “STANKIN”: For the country’s sovereignty it is necessary to reactivate the machine tool industry KXan 36 Daily News

Date: April 19, 2024 Time: 15:23:47

How will Russia revive machine tool building, a key branch of the national economy? The “RG” correspondent talks about this with the rector of MSTU “STANKIN” Vladimir Serebrenny.

Vladimir Valeryevich, among the industries that suffered the most from the sanctions was the machine tool industry. Dependence on many types of products was 80 to 95 percent. But the machine is the basis of the economy. Without it, there will be nothing: no plane, no ship, no microchip. He is the beginning of a chain that should provide us with technological sovereignty. Now the country needs to revive the machine tool industry from scratch. Can we say that it will be a new industrialization, like in the 30s in the USSR?

Vladimir Serebrenny: In principle, you are right, we are talking about the industrialization of an entire industry. Of course, we produce a certain number of machine tools, a little more than 10 thousand a year, of which there are less than 1000 modern high-tech CNC machines – a meager number compared to the needs. Moreover, the problem is not only in the production of the machines themselves, but also in the components for them. This is a huge assortment: spindles, hydraulics, bearings, etc., which were also mainly imported. Also, we have a heavy reliance on software.

It is important to emphasize that we need not just machines, but world-class machines. Only in them it is possible to make products that can compete with the latest generation of world analogues.

An ambitious task has been set – to increase the production of modern machine tools by more than 3 times by 2030

Now a new edition of the federal project for the development of the machine tool industry is being developed. An ambitious task has been set – to increase the production of modern machine tools by more than three times by 2030. MSTU “STANKIN” is involved in the preparation of this document. I’d like to point out that unlike other industries represented by, say, a large corporation, there are about a hundred different players in the machine tool industry. Therefore, together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia, the industrial community will have to solve a problem that is unparalleled in complexity in recent decades.

But to make a new machine, you also need a machine. The USSR carried out industrialization, buying equipment, including machine tools from trendsetters. Bought all the best. And now, that everything is cut off?

Vladimir Serebrenny: I agree, the situation is very complicated. How to act? While there is still an opportunity, it is necessary to purchase this equipment from friendly countries, as well as use parallel imports. By the way, if China’s total imports increased from 22% in 2021 to 40% in 2022, then this trend is more pronounced in the machine tool industry than in many industries. And, of course, we need to create cooperation with companies that are ready to make such contacts.

That is, this is a task for the near future. What are the priorities for the future? What is the best way to go “to your machine”?

Vladimir Serebrenny: The federal program I talked about defines three main priorities. The first is the mass production of rather simple but high-tech turning, milling and other machine tools. On this basis, it is planned to expand the production of critical components as soon as possible. The second priority is unique equipment for the production of particularly complex parts, for example, aircraft turbine blades or submarine propellers. By the way, the sale of such machines was blocked for us in the first place in 2014. Of course, they are not profitable, since they require not thousands, not hundreds, but dozens or a few units, but without such competencies we will not be able to provide technological security to the country. And finally, the third priority is automation tools to increase labor productivity. This is an almost eternal pain point of our economy.

The thesis of increasing productivity has been repeated as a mantra in all strategies and programs since the times of the USSR…

Vladimir Serebrenny: Very good. Sometimes we lag behind the leading countries. For example, now in the world there is a real boom of robots working in a variety of industries. The leaders here are South Korea and Taiwan, where there are about 800 robots for every 10,000 workers in mechanical engineering. The world average is 200. We have less than a dozen. But the robot is only one part of the overall automation system. So we need to create such an integrated system, otherwise we won’t be competitive in the global economy.

The new industrialization will make the machine fashionable and prestigious. Photo: Mikhail Sinitsyn / RG

The creation of new technology begins in the scientific laboratory. Is it possible that our science today solves the problem of a new industrialization of industry?

Vladimir Serebrenny: Unfortunately, many competitions have been lost today. In fact, in the USSR there were about 40 scientific institutes that carried out work in this area, now they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. For example, the scientific organizations of the basic branch do not really work: the Experimental Research Institute of Metal Cutting Machine Tools (ENIMS) and the GIPROSTANOK Institute, which was engaged in plant design.

In a word, the situation with the scientific backing of the industry is very complicated. We proposed to form on the basis of Stankin University a center of leading industrial competence, which will include, in particular, an expert analytical center, an office of industrial design and pilot production. The center should deal with the entire spectrum of creating a machine: the development of new technology, the unification of various solutions, the creation of prototypes, etc. It is also necessary to create mechanisms to verify the chosen solutions in order to periodically assess the correctness of the ways of achieving the objectives. This is extremely important in order to move towards the goal optimally, with a minimum of cost and effort.

To solve this problem, within the framework of the opening of the Technoprom-2023 exhibition in Novosibirsk, together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, we plan to hold the first meeting of the council of chief designers of the machine tool industry, where mechanisms for the selection of priority areas of applied R&D.

The creation of new technology is impossible without the participation of companies. Until recently, it was difficult to attract them to the field of innovation, since everyone could buy. Now everything has changed. How will relationships between science and business be built so that promising developments turn to iron as quickly as possible?

Vladimir Serebrenny: First, it should be noted that the attitude of companies towards science has already changed. Companies reacted sensitively to the new situation, many turned their faces towards our science and our factories. Appeals were addressed to us at the university and to other organizations. Many are loaded and even overloaded with orders. Are you asking how to work with a company? The federal project proposes such a principle. The support measures must be directed mainly at the consumer, so that they order our products. The request came from him!

The most complex parts are manufactured on high-precision CNC machines. Photo: RIA Novosti

That is to say, the main violin in the set of creators of the machine will not be played by the manufacturer, but by the end user?

Vladimir Serebrenny: Yes. It is this mechanism of relations between partners in the “development-product” chain that will work in the industry. Such an approach, by the way, will avoid duplication and “reinvention of the wheel.” It will stimulate the creation of products demanded in the market.

We need not just machines, but world-class machines. Only they can produce products that will compete on the world market.

In the USSR there was a slogan “Cadres decide everything.” Judging by the surveys of young people, they see themselves as computer specialists, lawyers, economists, doctors and even teachers, but the machine does not call, it is not mentioned at all in their plans. With whom will we reactivate the industry? How to attract Olympians and graduates with high USE scores to this area?

Vladimir Serebrenny: You are right, but I assure you that the situation will change drastically in the near future. Everything is determined by life itself. If there is demand, there will definitely be supply. You know companies are already going after engineers and technologists, offering incredible salaries until recently. So the trend towards new industrialization has already been outlined. But its echo has not yet reached the aspirants. If we have been told for 30 years that a plant is not prestigious, then in a snap of the fingers it will not be prestigious. I have no doubt that the current situation will quickly put everything in its place. The engineer will take the initiative. And since mechanical engineering is the basis of independence in various sectors of the economy, working in this area, creating machine tools will not even be fashionable, but life itself will demand it. We will see this in the very near future.

Reviving an entire industry is a daunting task. I think it’s no secret to you that there are many skeptics who doubt that we will be able to figure it out in the foreseeable future. Can we manage, Vladimir Valerievich? Are we going to break through, as the media say now?

Vladimir Serebrenny: We simply have no alternative. Without the construction of high-quality machine tools, we will not be able to fully exist, compete with the leading countries. For the doubters, I want to go back to where we started the conversation. We started the industrialization of the 1930s almost from scratch. Indeed, in pre-revolutionary Russia there were almost no machine tools, but the country quickly mastered its production and later became one of the world leaders. Let’s break!

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Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor is a full-time editor for ePrimefeed covering sports and movie news.

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