Hannover Messe 2019: It’s all about enabling the smart digital factory - #3

This year’s motto at Hannover Messe was “Integrated Industries – Industrial Intelligence”. With only three days to get an overview of the major trends out there, I tried to focus on what’s happening in particular in the digital factory domain. Find my views of end-to-end process optimization and integration and autonomous transportation systems (#1 in my series of posts from HMI) here. For insights on edge computing and quantum-inspired technologies, data management, and MES (#2), click here.

Production networks in the cloud

Production networks in the cloud are a major topic these days. Major announcements at Hannover Messe came from VW, which announced a collaboration with Siemens (MindSphere) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) or BMW announcing a partnership with Microsoft Azure. And, besides these announcements, we can generally see a rising interest among manufacturing customers to leverage cloud solutions for shop-floor operations optimization. For instance, T-Systems recently announced the launch of a “Campus Network” at Osram. This network connects about 3,000 things and articles on the campus (currently via LTE, 5G planned) and which will allow fast connections so that autonomous vehicles, among others, can be used for transporting products and material on the campus. This campus network integrates a public and private (edge) infrastructure, which allows to have data captured and analyzed in order to reduce latency.

The rise of industrial ecosystems

Finally, engaging in ecosystems is definitely gaining traction among German manufacturers and is, from my point of view, absolutely key for long-term success. Good examples are the SmartFactoryKL initiative, which had a large booth at the fair and where members are among others Festo, Harting, Pilz, Bosch Rexroth, ProAlpha and IBM. The goal of this initiative is to bring industrial and research partners together to jointly implement Industry 4.0 projects regarding the factory of the future. In addition, this year’s Hannover Messe was centered around AI and how data of networked machines can seize completely new opportunities regarding production in the future.

Another example of industrial ecosystem strategies is SAP which launched its Open Industry 4.0 Alliance at the Hannover Messe and which has been designed to enable an open ecosystem of connected industrial manufacturing plants (the founding members besides SAP include Beckhoff, Endress+Hauser, Kuka and Hilscher, etc.). The goal of this initiative is to ensure interoperability of machines and plants within that open ecosystem.

A very interesting approach towards successfully implementing a digital ecosystem strategy was presented by HCL at its CXO Forum. The question of “how” is important, as many manufacturers already have got an understanding of “why” ecosystem strategies are important, but now need to figure out “how” to get there.

As mentioned earlier, this series of posts from the HMI reflects my personal highlights related to the digital factory. Find my colleague Arnold Vogt’s view of industrial IoT platforms at HMI 2019 here.