With the EMO Hannover show just around the corner, it was interesting to see at the recent preview event what is to be expected, and what some of the exhibiting companies had to say in the run-up to the leading metalwork trade show. From the component, tool and machine tool industry, 38 exhibitors from across nine countries came to pitch their company and latest products and solutions.
Schäfer also added: “I am especially looking forward to the technological innovation we have seen here ahead of EMO.”
This year’s EMO show has adopted the slogan; ‘Smart technologies driving tomorrow’s production’ and will emphasise the importance of the EMO as the leading fair for metalworking. This year has once again started off stronger than previous years in terms of exhibitors and visitor interest, with the focus on digitalisation, Industry 4.0 and IoT, which will all be a strong focal point throughout.
Schäfer explained that registrations have already increased from 2017, with the same amount of exhibitors from Europe, but a larger number from Asia. “There are always exhibitors that join later from Europe and Germany. We have an international mix of exhibitors, and visitors, and there really is a global audience.”
Innovation is an important factor when it comes to EMO and it is shown throughout. Schäfer backed this up with the stat that 72% of exhibitors in 2017 showed a new product or solution at EMO, as the show is proven to be a good place to release new products.
Although Industry 4.0 is a virtual concept, it is not a virtual business model. Businesses have to produce the parts and components, and this is the main principal behind what manufacturers do. And at the end of the day everything comes down to part cost – this is how customers stay competitive.
Schäfer explained that in using data for new business models, companies can always contribute to customers’ businesses. “Reducing down-time and predictive maintenance, these both derive from data, so it therefore just shows everything we look at nowadays cannot be looked at in isolation, but always with customers at the focal point.”
This year’s EMO will have a section dedicated to Industry 4.0 in Hall 9, and will see a big booth showing solutions such as Cloud technology and smart clamping.
There will also a big section on UMATI, (universal machine tool interface), another big buzzword in the industry which will accommodate all connectivity concerns. Schäfer expanded: “We hope to deal with all the concerns by the end of this year, and we want this to make a practical difference, so customers can benefit from a UMATI client and UMATI server. EMO 2019 will be the place where we show how this works and you will be able to see it in action.”
He continued by explaining UMATI is an example of innovation, and you will be able to see this first hand at EMO 2019. Fifty companies have registered and showed their interest to be part of this.
So, why is this so important? Schäfer answered: “It accounts for our customers, to show them how to harmonise machines and processes.”
Additive manufacturing will also be a significant area at EMO, Schäfer added: “It is a technology increasingly being used with a lot of progress being made.”
There will be a dedicated area for startup companies returning to this year’s EMO. Schäfer explained: “Having already introduced this section in 2017, 2019 will see a larger startup area, with 34 startup companies already having shown interest, from all across the world. I believe this will be a great platform for startups to showcase ideas and get themselves known.”
This year the organisers have decided to award a prize, and so far have received more than 250 applications for this award. Schäfer exclaimed: “There is a lot happening out there in terms of digitalisation, and the award has been very well received.”
Forums to educate audience
When it comes to skilled workers there is a massive shortage in Germany and Europe as a whole, and as such, manufacturers are struggling to find them, so HR departments have the opportunity to show what sort of workers and qualifications are needed. Schäfer commented: “EMO would like to play a part in fixing this shortage. We need to encourage students and highlight that it’s worth taking out a career in industry.
“We want to make an effort to find people suitable partners, match making in a way. Through an online platform we will match people together at the trade fair, to make sure the visitors and manufacturers get put in front of the right people.”
Schäfer took a question from the audience about whether digitalisation and Industry 4.0 will replace jobs, to which he replied: “I don’t think Industry 4.0 will directly lead to fewer jobs, I think it’s automation - which isn’t particularly to do with Industry 4.0.
“I quoted earlier predictive maintenance, where workers will be behind a machine that is all automated, and will be able to tackle problems at deeper level. So the workers will still need to operate the machines, therefore no jobs have been lost.”
Dr Jochen Kockler, of Deutsche Messe AG, also spoke about the importance of EMO within the industry, and how excited the Deutsche Messe was to be holding the show there. He said: “We try to do everything to ensure we are in an important industry for manufacturing. We the Germans, are not good when it comes to marketing, but are good when it comes to engineering.”
He added: “There’s an EMO feeling already here in the town, so in ten weeks it will feel even better. In terms of technology, and people coming to together, we are excited to be here.”
Finally, Dr Anselm Blocher of the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence, gave a more technical talk about some of the areas EMO will focus on. He explained: “Industry 4.0, in terms of digitalisation and AI, are all big areas, but it is good that these are distinguished differently, they are not the same thing.”
The concept of Industry 4.0 was created in 2010 and first published in 2011 by Wahlster, Kagermannn and Lukas. Now in 2018 more than 80,000 papers have been published on this topic. Now we’re in the second wave, it’s about understanding the content and enhancing Industry 4.0 data.
Blocher explained: “Data is not information – you need data to create the information with AI, but with data we can make information available, then you need understanding to go further. To understand data, to need to compile data in the right way – through digitisation.”
At the end of the day, the question is, do you have a factory base that is ready? That’s the first step when it comes to Industry 4.0. Blocher added: “There are so many opportunities for small and medium size businesses, to buy in expertise, so they don’t need to just rely on the big companies.”
AI has come so far in such a short space of time and it’s good to keep this in mind when you think of where AI will be in 30/40 years.
But why is everyone talking about AI? Blocher answered: “Things that have been developed years ago, are now being used differently, and utilised better, and situations have improved where methods can actually be applied properly.”
Certain products require certain methods of AI to be applied
You don’t want robots that perform single tasks, you need co-bots that can work multiple tasks. For example, if the human can no longer perform the task, you want the co-bot to step in and be able to take over – just to a basic level so the production line doesn’t have to stop.
Blocher continued: “With data maintenance it allows you to send the data to multiple people and/or multiple machines. Without this Industry 4.0 won’t be a success, because these are small things that affect workers on a daily basis. We want to know where, and what’s going to happen.”
Digitalisation vs. job loss
In regards to Schäfer’s question about job loss from the audience, Blocher also answered: “You cannot trust any figure on this, stats are unreliable when you’re looking into future. You can’t accurately predict this. What you can predict is that jobs will change, but training and education will change to adapt to this. The companies that plan for this and re-train will work better because their workers will be ready, and no one will lose jobs.
“It’s not just humans that need the assistance from robots, it’s the co-bots that need assistance and guidance from humans. There are some things these machines will never be able to lean like humans, so it’s good to see cobots learning.”