Mechanical engineering is a pioneer in connecting production

Hannover Messe

Digital change is making great strides, artificial intelligence, machine learning and 5G have shaped this year's Hannover Messe. The medium-sized mechanical engineering industry is a major driving force behind this change, as the development of OPC UA, the world language for machine communication, shows.

The medium-sized mechanical engineering industry is actively shaping digital change in order to remain at the forefront of international competition. Many exhibitors at this year's Hannover Messe proved that they can do this with their innovations. "Mechanical engineers are the pioneers in connecting production. The great interest shown by trade fair visitors in machine-to-machine communication and in the world machine language OPC UA shows that our companies are right at the forefront," said VDMA Executive Director Thilo Brodtmann, drawing a positive conclusion from the world's largest industrial fair. On the other hand, international trade conflicts are increasingly having a negative impact on the day-to-day business of companies. "The economic outlook in mechanical engineering is getting cloudier. This makes it all the more important that the Hannover Messe is and remains a beacon of industry and its innovative strength," Brodtmann stressed.

The open communication architecture OPC UA (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture) plays a particularly important role in digital production. Its use is being promoted to a large extent by the VDMA and its member companies. At the fair, the big interest in the possibilities of OPC UA was also evident from the large crowd at the 1st World Interoperability Conference, which was fully booked with more than 300 participants. "It is extremely important for medium-sized businesses and mechanical engineering industry that our companies play a leading role here," explained Hartmut Rauen, Deputy Executive Director of the VDMA. In addition, artificial intelligence and the new 5G mobile radio standard are decisive factors for connected production, which were discussed and presented at the trade fair. "Data-based business models and AI applications such as machine learning can provide competitive advantages and further shorten industry innovation cycles.
New business models such as predictive maintenance are establishing themselves more and more established. This will further strengthen the position of mechanical engineering in the coming years," said Rauen, who is also Managing Director of the VDMA Power Transmission and Fluid Power Associations.

Mechanical engineers are the pioneers in connecting production.

Important contact for politics

The fact that mechanical engineering plays a decisive role for the German economy and that the VDMA is a central point of contact for politicians was demonstrated once again this year by numerous tours with visits to the stands of VDMA member companies. After German Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with Sweden's head of government Stefan Löfven, Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, Baden-Württemberg's head of government Winfried Kretschmann and his Economics Minister Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut also visited the Hannover Messe. In addition, State Secretary Claudia Dörr-Voß from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and State Secretaries Dr. Ulrich Nussbaum, Andreas Feicht and Thomas Bareiß from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology visited the industry fair. On the initiative of the VDMA, the Economic Committee of the German Bundestag visited the trade fair and learned about the strengths and innovations of mechanical engineers.

Numerous applications with Artificial Intelligence

A central visitor magnet this year was once again the Digital Factory, where the VDMA Software and Digitisation joint stand was also represented. The main theme of this year's Hannover Messe, "Industrial Intelligence", was presented to the visitors with numerous applications. "We see, for example, CRM applications that are supported by artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence has thus not only arrived in the production hall, but also in the corporate IT," summarized Prof. Claus Oetter, Deputy Managing Director of VDMA Software and Digitization.

The VDMA Electrical Automation also enjoyed a positive exhibition sum. Electrical automation technology continues to play a key role in mechanical and plant engineering. "There is great interest in new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and 5G, which offer completely new possibilities for tomorrow's production," said Jörg Freitag, Chairman of the VDMA Electrical Automation. The connecting of production and the profitable use of machine data will become increasingly important, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. Once again, the Forum Industry 4.0 attracted a large crowd; on the first three days alone, 5500 visitors attended the lectures on digitization topics, around 30 percent more than in the previous year.

Industry meets Energy

The debate about climate targets and how they can be achieved has intensified again in recent weeks. It became clear at the fair: In order to achieve the ambitious climate targets and stay ahead in the competition for sustainable energy technology, the ongoing conversion of the energy system must be accelerated. Increasing the efficiency and flexibility of integrated energy systems is of major importance here. This year's leading trade fair "Integrated Energy" focused on industrial power and heat supply, efficiency technologies and Power-to-X applications. "The bridge between various industries and energy plant construction was successfully built both by the exhibitors and by the wide range of specific presentations at Integrated Energy," summed up Matthias Zelinger, Managing Director of VDMA Power Systems.

Successful lightweight construction day at the Hanover Fair

The focus this year was also on the many possible applications of lightweight construction, which were discussed in the VDMA Lightweight Construction Forum, among others. The special lightweight construction area of the VDMA Working Group Hybrid Lightweight Technologies at the Integrated Lightweight Plaza was well received. The importance of this topic was demonstrated by the visit of the Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Peter Altmaier, who opened the 1st Lightweight Summit. This dialogue should be the prelude to the development of a joint strategy for the key technology of lightweight construction as well as further lightweight construction summits at the Hannover Messe.

OPC UA demonstrator at ComVac

The exhibitors from the world of pumps and compressors were also satisfied with the course of ComVac. "The world's leading suppliers of compressed air and vacuum technology showed what influence industry 4.0 already has on their business processes today and what business processes can emerge in the future," said Christoph Singrün, Managing Director of VDMA Pumpen Systeme. "Our well-attended OPC UA demonstrator demonstrated how manufacturer- and device-independent communication can work, using the example of (vacuum) pumps. We are thus supplying these product groups with a very concrete building block for the success story of OPC UA," emphasized Singrün.

The surface technology exhibitors drew a mixed balance for the Hannover Messe 2019. The usual good internationality and quality of the contacts was offset by too little demand. "Digitalization has arrived in surface technology. The founding of the Joint Working Group VDMA OPC Surface Technology Initiative attracted the desired attention at the Hanover Fair and attracted new members for the initiative to implement OPC UA in surface technology," explained Dr. Martin Riester, speaker of the VDMA Surface Technology Department.