Latest Technology & Manufacturing Innovations
By Bill Lydon, Editor
The Hannover Messe (Fair) 2012, held April 23 -27, was again an impressive event for people involved in industry, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. It’s a great opportunity to learn new ideas and network with people from around the world. China was the partner country this year providing yet another dimension to the event. Approximately 195,000 visitors attended the event with about 50,000 from non-German countries and of that amount approximately 20,000 from non-European countries. While attending Hannover Messe, with my automation background, I am reminded that automation is one of the important elements in manufacturing. But there are many other disciplines that must work in concert for a successful manufacturing company. Hannover Messe brings together people from the many times isolated “silos” in manufacturing to one event for learning and sharing.
Hannover's exhibition center has 496,000 square meters of covered indoor space (i.e. over 5.3 million square feet), 58,000 square meters of open-air space, including 27 halls and pavilions.
China 2012 Partner Country
The Hannover Messe opening ceremony is always a treat with entertainment from the partner country and commentary by technologists and dignitaries including Dr. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, and H.E. Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China.
HANNOVER MESSE 2012 Opening Ceremony included traditional and modern Chinese music
Chinese Premier H.E. Wen Jiabao
H.E. Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, noted in his opening ceremony remarks that Germany and China are two of the most important manufacturing countries in the world. Starting in 1978 to 2011 China’s GDP grew from 10th place to 2nd place in the world at an average annual rate of 9.9%. The Premier stated, “Reform is the unending source of power driving China’s economic development and social progress,” explaining their transformation from a highly centralized planned economy to a “vibrant socialist market economy.” China gives high priority to education and there are now more than 23 million students in Chinese universities and colleges, which is 27 times more than in 1978. In 2011, the number of authorized patents in China rose to the third place in the world. The Premier discussed how science, technology and education are playing a major role, “advancing leapfrog industrial development in China.” The Premier said, “We are committed to promoting the modernization of agriculture in the process of industrialization and urbanization.” “We are keenly aware that to realize industrialization is still a daunting historic task China faces in its modernization drive.” He reaffirmed China’s commitment to building an innovation driven country to achieve a transition from “made in China” to “created by China.”
The Chinese Premier discussed the need to overcome the international financial crisis as an important mission for global industries noting that, “We should vigorously grow the real economy, this is crucial for achieving the stable growth of the global economy.” “A major cause of the financial crisis that the virtual economy in some developed countries has expanded excessively and become divorced from the real economy.” He described how the lack of new growth areas in the real economy has hindered recovery of the world economy. “We should focus on the growth of the real economy to grow jobs to insure robust, balanced, and sustainable growth,” said the Premier. His final comment was, “I wish to reiterate that China will remain unchanged in its commitment to basic state policy of opening up and will continue to improve our laws, regulation, and policies to expand market access, strengthen IP protection; insure a level playing field for all companies legally registered in China.”
One of the keynote themes at the China showcase was mobility. The Deputy Director-General of the Industry Department of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), Mr. Wang Fuchang, recently unveiled his government's plans to significantly boost R&D spending on core enabling technologies for eco-friendly vehicles. Under the ten-year Energy Saving and Alternative-Energy Vehicle Development Plan, China aims to invest more than 100 billion Yuan (11.4 billion euros) in the production of new electric cars. The objective, according to the MIIT, is to make the People's Republic the world's largest manufacturer in the electric vehicle segment. China's priorities are plug-in hybrids and pure electrical vehicles with lithium ion batteries. China has a big advantage over other countries in developing a strong electric car market with ample lithium and rare earth metals which are the two main ingredients needed for the development of electric vehicles. China has already invested heavily in many research centers across the country as the Chinese aim to become global leaders in electric vehicles manufacturing in ten years. China overtook the U.S. in 2009 to become the world's largest auto market by volume.
Chinese Premier H.E. Wen Jiabao and Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel tour the Hannover Messe exhibits
Dr. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
Remarks at the opening reception by Dr. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, noted that every 10th exhibitor was Chinese. Diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the People's Republic of China were started 40 years ago. Last year trade between Germany and China broke all records, reaching a total volume of over 140 billion euros. Merkel commented, “What unites us and China is that the prerequisite for industrial development is innovation, scientific development, creativity, engineering, never being satisfied, always going on and never accepting a standstill.”
2012 the HANNOVER MESSE Line-Up
The 2012 Hannover Messe line-up featured eight trade fairs representing key industrial technologies from around the world.
- Industrial Automation - Process, Factory and Building Automation Systems and Solutions
- Motion, Drive & Automation – Power Transmission & Control
- Energy - Renewable and Conventional Power Generation, Power Supply, Transmission, Distribution and Storage
- Power Plant Technology - Power Plant Design, Systems, Operation and Maintenance
- Wind - Wind Generation Technology, Components and Services
- MobiliTec - Hybrid and Electric Powertrain Technologies, Mobile Energy Storage and Alternative Mobility Solutions
- Digital Factory - Integrated Processes and IT Solutions
- ComVac - Compressed Air and Vacuum Technology
- Industrial Supply - Industrial Subcontracting and Lightweight Construction
- CoilTechnica - Coil Winding, Electric Motor, Generator and Transformer Technology
- Surface Technology - Spectrum of industrial surface treatment techniques, ranging from pre-treatment to paint coatings and electroplating
- IndustrialGreenTec - Environmental Technology building a sustainable tomorrow
- Research & Technology – R&D and Technology Transfer
IndustrialGreenTec was a new trade fair in 2012 dedicated to pioneering ideas and market-ready products in the field of environmental technology and sustainability. This portion of the fair provided manufacturing companies a dedicated international showcase for the products and processes needed for eco-friendly and sustainable manufacturing. Dr. Wolfram von Fritsch, Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Messe AG noted, “Industry has not just appeared to be green because it is hip now, rather it has a green heart.” “Green technologies were demonstrated at all areas of Hannover Messe indicating that green is starting to be incorporated into industry business models.” This was evident throughout the Fair with clever designs that save energy, create less waste, and improve manufacturing profit.
TectoYou – Engaging Youth
The sixth TectoYou initiative for young people set up by HANNOVER MESSE brought approximately 10,000 school students and teachers together with representatives from industry, professional associations and exhibiting companies. The goal is to expose youth to industrial technology and to learn about interesting careers opportunities. The patron of TectoYou is the German Minister for Education and Research, Professor Dr. Annette Schavan. TectoYou is aimed at three target groups: school students from every level of school education about to complete their education and hoping to embark on a career; trainees and students in vocational training; and, thirdly, first year university or technical college students.
TectoYou is a joint project of Deutsche Messe AG and the marketing initiative "Germany - Land of Ideas
". TectoYou partners include the Federation of German Industry (BDI), the German Electrical Engineering and Electronics Federation (ZVEI), the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) and the German Electrical Engineering Association (VDE), as well as companies such as HARTING, Phoenix Contact, Rittal and Siemens.
Thoughts & Observations
Hannover Fair is about sharing knowledge, learning new ideas, admiring innovations, people networking and collaboration in the quest for engineering and manufacturing excellence in a spirit of cooperation. Certainly companies are competing but there is an atmosphere of camaraderie and understanding that improvements “lift all boats.”
The opening ceremony at Hannover is an acknowledgement and celebration of technology, engineering, and manufacturing. This respect is part of the culture that I have observed over the years working with German people in a number of areas of technology and manufacturing including engineers, technicians, and manufacturing people. Management and politicians also have a deep understanding of the value of technology and manufacturing. This appreciation is engrained deep in the culture. There was a great example of this passion at the Fair when I saw an impressive demonstration of a new electric Linde fork lift. They announced that the driver was Germany’s champion fork lift driver. What a great concept - acknowledging all the skills required to make industry function efficiently!
Major innovations are usually created at the intersection of various disciples and Hannover Messe is a place where mechanical, electrical, automation, and IT come together. This is most evident in new mechatronic designs for machines that save energy by using regenerative techniques within a machine to optimize energy use.
Chinese Premier H.E. Wen Jiabao comments contrasting the “real economy” vs. the “virtual economy” really brings a major United States problem into sharp focus. It has become too easy for U.S. companies to outsource production to low wage countries rather than using engineering and production automation to do things smarter. This is not a problem solved with a single silver bullet. I suggest the following activity for U.S. politicians and manufacturing management. Attend Hannover Messe to learn what is going on in manufacturing, energy, and automation around the world. And I suggest they limit their attendance of political events and trade delegation presentations so they can spend time learning about tangible developments and trends in the real world.