Hannover Fair 2017: Integrated Industry Empowers World Competition

Hannover Fair 2017: Integrated Industry Empowers World Competition
Hannover Fair 2017: Integrated Industry Empowers World Competition

The 2017 Hannover Fair taught us one thing above all others. Manufacturing winners and losers will be defined by their understanding and application of Industry 4.0 and IoT solutions. Yet, the Technology and real-world applications described and demonstrated at Hannover Fair made it clear the digitalization of manufacturing with Industry 4.0 and IoT can be realized by forward thinking manufacturers throughout the world. 

The Hannover trade fair has become a global showcase where industrial professionals, from all over the world, come together to experience the latest in Industry 4.0 and other innovative manufacturing technology. This year’s showcase boasted over 6,500 exhibitors, over 225,000 attendees, and over 1,500 lectures, and the theme, "Integrated Industry–Creating Value," put a major spotlight on the benefits of Industry 4.0 and the role of humans in tomorrow's integrated factories. 

Over 85,000 of the attendees came from outside Germany. "This is an unprecedented figure in the 70-year history of HANNOVER MESSE," commented Dr. Jochen Köckler, member of the Managing Board, Deutsche Messe AG. The largest number of foreign visitors came from China, followed by the Netherlands, India and Poland, whose visitors set a new Partner Country record.  Participation by Chinese companies was particularly impressive, as they occupied approximately 20% of exhibit space. The long-term impact of Partner Country participation was underscored by an impressive 3,000 visitors from the U.S., last year's Partner Country.

A wide range of software and hardware was introduced and demonstrated at Hannover Fair 2017 that are the building blocks to implement significantly more responsive and productive manufacturing. This included more powerful controllers, modeling and simulation software, cloud services, and edge devices.  Edge device manufacturers make a convincing case that to achieve responsive and high reliability manufacturing will require powerful edge devices. Dr. Köckler noted that many Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) exhibitors demonstrated how they are digitizing, “These companies are now digitalizing their processes and establishing connectivity with their partners, because they know that their customers–from the automotive industry, for example–expect the end-to-end digital tracking of each and every part every component."

The rise of enterprise & cloud offerings

The latest and greatest in software and cloud services were demonstrated throughout the Hannover Fair by hundreds of industrial automation and enterprise software vendors. The proliferation of cloud offerings was made clear perusing the exhibit halls, plus the introduction at Hanover 2017 of new cloud services and analytics to improve operations and perform predictive maintenance. Microsoft had a large presence that included cloud offerings, a range of software, and, most importantly, many partners that were demonstrating real-world manufacturing applications including augmented reality with HoloLens. SAP again this year showed real-world manufacturing applications with integrated plant floor to enterprise software. Amazon WEB Services also had a presence, focusing on their cloud offerings. These all illustrated the rapidly growing integration and digitalization of manufacturing using Industry 4.0 concepts.

A frenzy of edge device innovation

The number of new edge devices at Hannover Fair 2017 illustrated the importance of computing at the edge, in order to implement Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things manufacturing systems. Computing at the edge is consistent with the goals of manufacturing systems to be highly responsive, reliable and achieve high availability. Here are some of the highlights of the many industrial automation edge offerings on display at Hannover Fair:

The Festo Motion Terminal Digital Valve

The Festo Motion Terminal generated quite a bit of buzz at the fair. Merging hardware and software to create a programmable valve, the Festo Motion Terminal combines the functions of over 50 individual components in order to simplify engineering and reduce the number of hardware components required to design adaptive systems.  A variety of valve functions can now be programmed and addressed using FESTO apps. Project manager Dr. Julia Duwe, Head of Future Motion Solutions Management, explains: “In technological terms, this entirely new platform combines mechanics, electronics, control engineering and software. With a choice of various motion apps, clients have the possibility of both registering the condition of their systems in real time and of modifying their functions, thereby flexibly adapting to the demands of their customers.” 

The customizable valve’s integrated sensors supply operational data in real time and give insights into the internal processes of the system. The virtual production documentation issues warnings in cases of critical wear or divergent parameters. Disturbances in the complex processes are made visible and readily comprehensible. The digitalized functionality is invisibly programmed and protected in a “black box”, rather than being exposed in visible hardware elements–thereby ensuring a high degree of protection for intellectual property.

FESTO’s Integrated PLC & Programmable Valve

The combination of the FESTO CPX automation platform with the Festo Motion Terminal produced a completely programmable solution with an embedded PLC.  The FESTO PLC, running CODESYS IEC 61131-3 control software, is designed to provide complete valve and controller programmable controller with communications, including OPC UA, making it an Industry 4.0 and IIoT edge device.

Combining Festo Motion Terminal and FESTO CPX automation platform is a compete industrial automation edge controller.

Beckhoff’s Edge Device Micro PC

Beckhoff introduced the Beckhoff C6015, an Industrial PC which leverages Intel AtomCPUs and features up to four processor cores. The C6015 supports 30 GB Soild State Disck (SSD ) storage, 2 GB DDR3L-RAM (expandable ex-works up to 4 GB), a display port connection, an on-board Dual-Ethernet adapter with 2 x 100/1000Base-T connection and ports for both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. With its Windows Embedded Compact 7 operating system, it is fully operational in the basic configuration, and Windows 7 or Windows 10 operating systems are also available.  With universal multi-core support, the C6015 can be used simultaneously for automation, visualization and communication applications. The Beckhoff C6015 IPC features a die-cast zinc and aluminum housing, 82 x 82 x 40 mm ( 3.15 Inch X 3.15 inch X 1.57 inch) footprint, and temperature range up to +55 °C with passive cooling, The multi-core processors are supported by TwinCAT 3 Beckhoff automation software.

The C6015 IPC has a 3.15 Inch X 3.15 inch X 1.57 inch) footprint

Bosch Advanced Sensing IoT Toolkit

Leveraging the companies semiconductors & sensors technologies, Bosch showed off the BOSCH IoT Toolkit, which is designed  provides users and OEMs a universal programmable sensor device with integrated processing and communications. The Toolkit includes accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, community sensor, pressure sensor, temperature sensor, acoustic sensor, and digital light sensor. The unit also features a 32-bit microcontroller ARM Cortex M3, Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, Debug & extension port, Micro SD, Push buttons, Status LEDs, and a Li-Ion rechargeable battery.  The unit, including battery, is housed in a form factor of 60 x 40 x 22 mm³.  Communication options provide connection with other devices including PC or a mobile device via USB, Bluetooth or WLAN, an operating system is already on the XDK based on the open source operating system FreeRTOS enabling real time IoT applications.


KUNBUS’ Raspberry PI Edge Controller

One of our more interesting finds was at the KUNBUS GmbH booth. They launched a DIN rail-mounted industrial Raspberry Pi computer, based on the Broadcom BCM2835700 MHz CPU with 500 Mbyte RAM, and 4 GByte Flash. The operating system is a Raspbian / Debian with RT patch of the kernel, Realtime Clock with 24h retention, 2: USB 2.0 A, 1 micro USB, HDMI, Ethernet (RJ45) 10/100 Mbit/s.  Relatedly, a growing trend I have seen is that of a number of users and software vendors demonstrating applications running on Raspberry Pi boards.

Panduit Edge Computing - Vibration at the edge

Panduit demonstrated the SynapSense 900 MHz Sensor for vibration, which incorporates a 3-axis MEMS based accelerometer that measures on the x, y and z axis to determine velocity and frequency of the measured vibration. The sensor is adjustable to capture data based on an assessment interval, and also reports the duty cycle of the measured vibration wirelessly to a gateway for transmission to an online or premises based configuration management / database system.

The Panduit wireless SynapSense® 900 MHz Sensor for Vibrationrunson standard AA batteries..


The efforts for open-sourced frameworks for edge software

The efforts for common open-sourced frameworks were also prevalent at Hannover Fair 2017. The Linux Foundation announced the launch of EdgeX Foundry, a vendor-neutral, open source project devoted to building a common open framework for Industrial IoT edge computing. The project is aligned around the goal of simplifying and standardizing Industrial IoT edge computing, while still allowing the ecosystem to add significant value.  The hope is that this will unify the marketplace and accelerate enterprise and Industrial IoT. 

In a leadership move, DellTechnologies seeded this project with its Project Fuse source code base under Apache 2.0. This contribution includes more than a dozen microservices and over 125,000 lines of code. Dell claims that it designed Fuse based off feedback from hundreds of technology providers and end users, in order to enable interoperability between existing connectivity standards and commercial value-adds such as edge analytics, security, system management and services. 

“We think EdgeX Foundry is the key to accelerating the fragmented IoT market and are proud to have been a part of the effort from the beginning,” said Jason Shepherd, IoT Strategy and Partnerships, Dell. “We’re big believers in openness and choice, and this modular architecture is designed to help anyone easily build edge computing solutions with preferred hardware, software, standards and services while minimizing reinvention. EdgeX Foundry is not a new standard, but a way to unify standards and edge applications.”

The project is intended to enable and encourage the community of IoT solutions providers to create an interoperable ecosystem. EdgeX Foundry will certify the components to ensure the highest level of compatibility. The project is supporting x86 and ARM processors running any operating system including Linux, Windows and macOS. Applications can be written for any application environment such as Java, Javascript, Python, Go and C/C++. EdgeX Foundry employs tiered IoT architecture that allows developers to use a variety of plug–and–play microservices on the compute nodes. The project is backed by over 50 companies from the IoT ecosystem including Dell, AMD, Analog Devices, Canonical, Cloud Foundry, FogHorn, Relayr and VMware.

Bill’s thoughts & observations

Since Industry 4.0 was first discussed at Hannover Fair a few years ago , the fair has seen a rapidly growing set of products which  embrace the concept, and are providing tools that manufacturers need to compete on a worldwide basis. On the whole, there seemed to be a higher level of energy and innovation at this year’s Hannover Fair. This energy bump may be attributed to the more positive attitudes about the current state of the global economy,  but also, as I believe, to excitement about the highly innovative products which are being released with increasing frequency, and are helping to build more efficient and responsive automated manufacturing.

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