Hannover Messe (HMI), the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology, continues to be the scene on which manufacturers from around the world show off their most innovative, smoothest moving and most intelligent machines for countless purposes.
However, while 5G- and AI-equipped robots and vehicles are clearly standing out as the most prominent eye-catchers of this year’s HMI, there is plenty of exciting news from the show floor, that are rather “invisible” – as they encompass future concepts and new partnerships to accelerate digital transformation and leverage cutting-edge technology rather than novelties made from metal and wires.
Another kind of “eye-catcher” at this year’s trade fair is Swedish Prince Carl Philip, who visited the “Sweden Co-Lab” pavilion on Monday and took a tour throughout the exhibition halls on Tuesday to take a deep dive into industrial innovations from his nation and from around the world. Let’s take a look at some HMI highlights he might have come across on his tour!
News and highlights from the floor
Changing the face of industrial plants
At HMI, European companies from the mechanical engineering, industrial automation and software industries have announced the foundation of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance. Renowned industry leaders such as Beckhoff Automation, Endress+Hauser Group, Hilscher, ifm, KUKA, MULTIVAC and SAP SE are planning to join forces to create a standardized and open ecosystem for operating highly automated factories and plants, including logistics and services. This aims to drive digital transformation into the European industry, by mitigating proprietary stand-alone solutions.
A further initiative aiming to drive the development of smart factories has been announced by Microsoft and BMW. To better handle the huge amounts of data constantly created by connected devices throughout the production chain, the two companies want to create an Open Manufacturing Platform that will be built on the existing Microsoft Azure IIoT cloud platform and leverage open-source standards to make it easy for partners to join the initiative in the future.
With a wide range of robot arms interacting with visitors in various ways, human-robot collaboration is once again one of the key phrases of HMI. At the fair, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Broetje-Automation, Airbus, EngRoTec and The Captury are presenting a research demonstrator for hybrid manufacturing scenarios in aircraft construction, for the first time. In the showcase, six robots placed on an autonomously moving platform take over repetitive and unergonomic tasks, while human workers concentrate on tasks that require higher cognitive or sensorimotor abilities.
Driving the conversation about lightweight design
Lightweight design is one of the key technologies to enable energy-efficient vehicles and machines. This year, Hannover Messe is home to its first Lightweighting Summit to drive the conversation around the topic in politics, business and research. Meanwhile, exhibitors are already showcasing interesting new products for lightweight construction.
Leveraging lightweight design, Schaeffler has presented a new series of ironless linear motors for the automation engineering environment – especially for medical technology, where dynamic and precise handling of small masses is crucial.
The future of mobility
With once visionary concepts concentrating on autonomous and electric vehicles coming to life, manufacturers and OEMs in the mobility industry are in need of new business models, which leverage digitization and cutting-edge connectivity.
With these challenges in mind, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is premiering a new concept at Hannover Messe. Volkswagen’s new “PODs” are set to utilize space in traffic more efficiently than any concept before. These autonomous vans will build on a modular platform, on which new business ideas will be enabled – from a pizzeria that could be brought to a festival site to a spa that comes to consumers on demand. As examples, the auto maker is showcasing four possible configurations at the fair: The Health Care POD, Retail POD, Barista Bar POD and Energy POD. The latter could be designed to supply power to other electric vehicles at locations where no charging station is in reach.
Research & Technology
Of course, technological progress is impossible without research and development, especially from the academic environment. This is easily recognizable, when looking at the large number of universities and research institutes that currently exhibit at Hannover Messe. Among many projects, an autonomous “navigation and communication solution” from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at Zwickau University of Applied Sciences sticks out from the crowd: Addressing the hazard of Firefighters becoming easily disoriented in heavily smoke-filled rooms, the university has developed an innovative new firefighting mask that improves a firefighter’s gear by using data glasses, which could provide important information to their field of vision, such as an evacuation plan, instructions from the unit commander, and their own vital signs.
This has been the second HMI 2019 daily report. Stay tuned for another round-up from Hannover Messe tomorrow…