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Making digitalisation tangible

15 May 2017

This year’s Hannover Messe set out to make the benefits of digitalisation tangible for visitors, with demonstrations of the potential of intelligent robots, adaptive machines and integrated energy systems.

The show’s chosen lead theme of ‘Integrated Industry – Creating Value’ shone a spotlight on the benefits of Industry 4.0 and the role that humans might play in the integrated factories for the future. 

Summing up the event, Thilo Brodtmann, managing director of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), said: “Hannover Messe has served as a showcase for the mechanical engineering sector. Industry 4.0 is now well past the trial stage, and is already generating real benefits in application. The show reflected the industry’s buoyant mood – a mood powered by having exactly what it takes to get the job done for the benefit of people everywhere.”   
This year over 225,000 visitors attended the event, with over 75,000 coming from outside Germany. The largest number of foreign visitors came from China (9,000), followed by the Netherlands (6,200), India (5,300) and Poland, whose 5,000 visitors set a new Partner Country record. 
A new generation of robots – the collaborative robot, or cobot – were on display showing how they may transform the way factories work. Their connectivity, artificial intelligence, innovative sensors and intuitive operation allow them to communicate directly with humans, as they learn autonomously and swap instructions with other cobots. 
Sensors have traditionally been viewed as a solution to connect up different machines. However, this year at Hannover Messe platform solutions came very much to the forefront, with cloud-based network connections for the entire production operations, including data collection and analysis. “The trend towards the ‘digital twin’ concept in the production environment is opening up entirely new vistas for industry,” said Dr Jochen Köckler, a member of the managing board at Deutsche Messe. “If testing can be carried out in virtual reality – for example, to see whether a new production line is going to work out – it is possible to bring products onto the market faster, at lower cost.”

Companies continue to be optimistic about the road ahead, with more than 70% of participating exhibitors rating the overall business climate in their sector as good to excellent. Their own prospects were seen in an even more positive light, with 80% of all exhibitors stating them as ‘good' or ‘excellent,' while 71% anticipate a further brightening of the general economic climate in the course of 2017. Accordingly, 41% of exhibitors in Germany are planning to hire more staff.

The next Hannover Mess will run from 23rd to 27th April 2018, with Mexico as the official partner country.

The June issue of Control Engineering Europe will include a Hannover Messe Review, where we will focus on some of the most exciting developments from the exhibition.

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