Hannover Messe is the world’s leading industrial technology trade fair. This annual event, held in Hannover, Germany, focuses on core industrial areas and showcases new and upcoming technology that can help your company navigate the innovation landscape.
This year’s theme reflects the changing industrial landscape. The Internet-of-things and connected ecosystems have already had a significant impact on consumer electronics, and this powerful movement is now also making its mark in industry. As technologies advance, companies are compelled to reinvent themselves to stay relevant by embracing the shift to connected and collaborative processes.
Hardware and software are like yin and yang. Software advances are making machines more sophisticated by giving industrial companies the power to run digital simulations and monitor, test, and update their hardware remotely. Digital simulations give companies greater control over and understanding of their machines and provide opportunities to implement dynamic and varied processes, optimize production, and more fully understand machinery’s evolving role. This challenges hardware experts to become software experts in an industrial landscape.
Robots are a familiar sight on industrial production lines, but their role is changing: cobots enhance human processes rather than replacing them. We’ve seen examples of dynamic robots that can read human actions and adjust or mimic their processes accordingly, and advanced exoskeleton technologies that can enhance an operative’s physical capabilities. Such advances can assist an aging workforce and enhance opportunities for those with physical disabilities. Generally, they act to shift the value back to the human workforce and empower people to work more effectively.
Manufacturing companies are using machine learning for new and advanced purposes. Some are using deep reinforcement learning so their industrial robots are able to train themselves on new tasks faster than it would take to reprogram them. Companies are also connecting robots so they can learn together – cutting learning times still further. What’s more, using machine learning algorithms on massive databases, companies are better able to determine service intervals and predict the need to replace parts, thereby cutting costs and reducing downtime.
Few, if any, companies or factories are self sufficient. Particularly in manufacturing, factories depend on suppliers for materials, resources, and even energy to run their processes. Supply disruptions can be mitigated by a connected ecosystem with all the information needed to predict and prepare for potential issues. With the knowledge of precisely how much energy and what amount of materials are needed to manufacture a given product, factories can optimize their supply chain management and more effectively utilize energy and storage facilities. The resulting reliability and accuracy can have knock-on effects for optimization throughout the organization.
Connected spaces have had a disruptive influence on many industries and are now starting to drive innovations in industrial technology. This change is about more than the digitization of systems and processes, it involves finding value within a new connected ecosystem. When information can flow between manufacturers and suppliers; management and workers; or, even, machines and people, stakeholders gain insights that allow them to make better-informed decisions. It all adds up to the power to create a holistic and innovative product vision and to implement that vision faster than ever before.