Each year there is a message to be taken away from HANNOVER MESSE, with last year’s being: integrated industry has well and truly reached the mainstream. To back this up, the how featured over 400 application examples of fully digitalised processes for the manufacturing and energy industries. The fourth industrial revolution, it seems, is well underway.
However, to ensure that the factories of the future don’t remain castles in the air, it is necessary to shine a stronger spotlight on the benefits for industry, employees and society in general.
This is where HANNOVER MESSE 2017 comes in. ‘Integrated Industry – Creating Value’ is the official lead theme for HANNOVER MESSE 2017, taking place 24th-28th April, in Hannover.
Deutsche Messe Managing Board member Dr. Jochen Köckler, said: “Widespread uptake of digitalisation in the manufacturing and energy industries will only happen if integrated technology providers make a strong case for the associated benefits.”
He continued: “Manufacturers and energy companies need to fully understand the direct, long-term benefits they stand to gain from digitalisation. They need to recognise that digitalisation adds value – and not just in terms of new and better machines. Value is also created by the ability that digitalisation gives companies to update or completely reinvent their business models and improve the working lives of individual employees.”
With Industry 4.0, integrated energy, digital twins, predictive maintenance, digital energy, and networked and collaborative robots (cobots), companies of all sizes today have a multitude of high-tech solutions to choose from.
However, it is often found difficult to predict what value these sorts of solutions might add. Many understandably balk at committing to major capital investments without concrete prospects of measurable benefits.
Again, this is where HANNOVER MESSE 2017 steps in. Next year, the industrial technology show will demonstrate how even companies with limited resources can pinpoint and harness the power of digitalisation.
Köckler continued: “Industry 4.0 is not about replacing all manufacturing plant all at once; it is a gradual process. For example, companies can begin by fitting sophisticated sensors to existing plant to capture and evaluate data that will help them make improvements to their production processes or develop new business models.”
HANNOVER MESSE will provide guidance to visitors from the manufacturing industries who are looking to leverage the benefits of digitalisation for their companies and transform their plants into Industry 4.0 factories, step by step.
Digitalisation will completely transform the energy industry, too. In fact, it is the key to the energy transition most countries are striving towards. In the energy systems of the future, smart grids will control and regulate all parts of the energy supply chain, from generation right through to consumption.
Without digitalisation, it will not be possible to make the switch from today’s outmoded centralised power plants to modern, highly efficient energy systems that are based on renewables and distributed generation structures.
Under the ‘Integrated Energy’ banner at the upcoming HANNOVER MESSE, the providers will highlight the changes the energy industry will undergo as well as the individual technologies that will play a critical role in this transformation.
“HANNOVER MESSE will showcase integrated solutions all along the energy value chain – from generation, transmission, distribution and storage, right through to alternative mobility solutions,” explained Köckler.
There will however, always be those who tend to be critical to success in industry. That is why HANNOVER MESSE’s motto of ‘Integrated Industry – Creating Value’ applies just as much to people in industry as it does to plant and equipment.
Industry 4.0 technologies will add value to factory workers’ duties by making them more interesting and varied. Instead of focusing on repetitive manual tasks, factory employees will increasingly be called upon to solve problems, make decisions, innovate and drive value-adding initiatives.
Manufacturers need to invest in upskilling and education measures to prepare their workforces for Workplace 4.0. “In future, we’ll see more and more intelligent workstations that adapt to the skill level of individual employees and support them in their work,” said Köckler. “In tomorrow’s agile, flexible manufacturing plants, training will take place on the job, right at the machine, without any production stoppages. Training tools will include virtual reality applications, smart glasses, smartphones and tablets – all of which will feature strongly at HANNOVER MESSE 2017.”