Digital Factory Comes into Focus at Hannover Messe 2018

  • May 22, 2018
  • Feature
Digital Factory Comes into Focus at Hannover Messe 2018
Digital Factory Comes into Focus at Hannover Messe 2018

By Bill Lydon, Editor,

Resembling more a bustling city than a trade fair, the 71st Hannover Messe was very busy and chock full of energy and innovation this year. With over 200,000 attendees from 75 countries, this years’ Hannover Messe continued as the largest industrial manufacturing event in the world. This year’s event featured over 5,000 exhibitors, 150 speakers, and 1,400 events focusing on the theme 'Integrated Industry – Connect & Collaborate' with the Digital Factory front and center.


Mexico Flourished as Partner Country

Featured prominently this year, was the Hannover Messe 2018 partner country, Mexico, with over 160 Mexican companies presenting their innovations to visitors.  At the opening ceremony, Mexican president H. E. Enrique Peña Nieto urged continued partnership and investment between nations in his speech and lauded HANNOVER MESSE as an opportunity for his nation to showcase its industrial progress to the world. German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized the two nations shared values and further supported globalization driven by global free trade. 

Dr. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, H. E. Enrique Peña Nieto, President of the United Mexican States Toured exhibits.


Endress+Hauser Wins the HERMES AWARD

Also at the opening ceremony, Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek announced Endress+Hauser as the winner of this year’s HERMES AWARD, for the iTHERM TrustSens TM371 self-calibrating thermometer.  Having a self-calibrating temperature sensor has been dream fodder for many automation engineers and technicians over the years and Endress+Hauser’s thermometer is designed to make that a  reality.

During the opening Ceremony of HANNOVER MESSE, Sunday, April 22, 2018 at the Hannover Congress Centrum Endress+Hauser was awarded the Hermes Award for innovative self-calibrating temperature sensor.

First self-calibrating thermometer - iTHERM TrustSens Hygienic compact thermometer 


Macro Takeaways from Hannover Messe 2018

With so much innovation and information flowing through the halls of Hannover Messe 2018, I gained multiple articles worth of new insights that I have been and will be sharing with you through the weeks. In the meantime, these are some of my top level takeaways to share with you:

Technology Driving Globalization

Hannover Messe 2018 illustrated how the influx of technology is driving big changes in manufacturing methods and production automation architectures throughout the globe.  Creative new automation and manufacturing solutions coming from China and other new players are expanding options for manufacturers.

Competitive Manufacturing Convergence

As illustrated by the 75 countries sharing in the presentation and discussion, manufacturers worldwide are applying new technologies to improve manufacturing productivity and performance. In fact, I have found that manufacturers from developing countries have an advantage in adopting new technologies because they may not be constrained by investments in legacy automation and methods.

Industry 4.0 World Adoption

Another uniting factor has been the Industry 4.0 concepts that are being adopted worldwide with various initiatives.  Some of these global initiatives include Made in China 2025, Japan Industrial Value Chain Initiative (IVI), Make in India, and Indonesia 4.0.  Clearly there is a future for the holistic automation, business information, and manufacturing execution architecture to improve industry with the integration of all aspects of production and commerce across company boundaries for greater efficiency. 

Industry 4.0 for Process

Industry 4.0 initially focused primarily on discrete manufacturing, but the technology quickly evolved and now there is a growing focus on applying Industry 4.0 concepts to process automation as well with the NAMUR Industry 4.0 for Process initiative.

Industry 4.0 and Digitization                                                                    

Hanover Messe was focused very early on industry 4.0 and digitization. As I've been researching and writing about this since 2013, when it was first discussed,  I’ve seen it grow to the point that Industry 4.0 and Digitization was the largest topic this year.  There were dedicated halls, over 590 exhibitors and many open forum discussions and presentations by vendors, trade association, standards groups, and educational institutions sharing how digitization is driving industry. 

Industrial Middleware Evaporating

The new integrated manufacturing and enterprise architecture to achieve more responsive manufacturing integrates plant floor middleware software functions into edge devices, enterprise & cloud computing. A more traditional way to express this is OT (Operations Technology) is being integrated into IT (Information Technology) but this is a narrow vision of the changes underway.  

This new manufacturing architecture was reflected by the major presence of companies including Amazon, Google, SAP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, PTC, Dassault Systems, Haiwai, and Splunk to name a few.  I would also include Siemens Industry Software and Schneider Electric- Aveva in this group since they have made major investments in enterprise-level software supporting these more responsive manufacturing architectures.

On the whole, these new technologies are challenging and empowering control and automation professionals to deliver more value as systems and manufacturing process subject matter experts.


Holistic Cyber Security Architecture

One of the eye-opening events I witnessed at the Fair was the number of initiatives that are launching top to bottom Holistic Cyber Security Architectures. These architectures, at the most fundamental edge devices, leverage System on Chip (SoC) microprocessor chips with built-in cybersecurity.  These are becoming of increasing interest to the industrial and process automation industries where cybersecurity protection requirements continue to increase with the number intelligent edge devices, controllers, sensors, actuators, motor controls, etc.  

This is impactful because, architecturally, cybersecurity has been an add-on to existing system architectures that weren’t originally designed for cybersecurity protection.  These new approaches bring in security from the outset, creating top to bottom cybersecurity architectures that are being leveraged for wide range of IoT applications. Some of these initiatives include:

Microsoft’s Azure Sphere

Microsoft is making an interesting push into the chip business, as they announced “Azure Sphere.” The goal for Azure Sphere is to combine a chip design, a cloud security service, and a Linux kernel to better secure billions of IoT devices around the world.  In 2016, Microsoft announced that it had co-designed a FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array), to enhance the intelligence of its cloud servers, the first instance of a Microsoft designed chip.  Now an area of interesting growth for Microsoft, the first Azure Sphere chip will be the MediaTek MT3620 that incorporates Arm Cortex-A7.


Not to be outdone, Google made their presence known as well. They announced the Google Cloud IoT Core, a system for managing the connection of internet of things (IoT) devices, like sensors, with Google’s cloud, and a pipeline for securely getting data to and from those devices.  To drive this effort, Google has a cultivated a partner ecosystem that offer devices and kits that work with Cloud IoT Core. These partners include: Allwinner Technology, Arm, Intel, Marvell, Microchip, Mongoose OS, NXP, Realtek, Sierra Wireless, and SOTEC.  Microchip became the first partner to capitalize, delivering the ATECC608A chip for Trusted and Secured Authorization with Google Cloud IoT Core.

Amazon FreeRTOS

Since the other internet giants got in the game, Amazon has decided to play as well. They introduced the Amazon FreeRTOS, an IoT operating system for microcontrollers that are qualified through The Amazon FreeRTOS Qualification Program (Amazon FQP).   Amazon FreeRTOS is open source and based on the FreeRTOS kernel real-time operating system for microcontrollers. Amazon FreeRTOS includes software libraries to help program commonly needed IoT capabilities into devices. Amazon FreeRTOS also includes an over-the-air (OTA) update feature to remotely update devices with feature enhancements or security patches.  Partners today that fully support Amazon FreeRTOS features and capabilities include Espressif, Microchip, NXP Semiconductors, and STMicroelectronics.

ARM  Arm Mbed IoT Device Platform Products in the Mbed IoT Platform

 ARM introduced both Arm TrustZone and the Mbed IoT platform. Arm TrustZone is a hardware-based security built into SoCs by semiconductor chip designers who want to provide secure end points and a device root of trust. The family of TrustZone technologies can be integrated into any Arm Cortex-A and the latest Cortex-M23 and Cortex-M33 based systems, from  microcontrollers to applications processors. 

The Arm Mbed IoT Device Platform is made up of two key sets of products: device software and cloud-based device management services. Together this is designed to make it simple to move data from sensor to server.  The Arm Mbed IoT Device Platform provides an operating system, gateway, device management services, and partner ecosystem as well as connectivity and communication for constrained devices. Partner companies have enabled 6LoWPAN, Bluetooth Low Energy, Thread, LoRa, WiFi, NFC, RFID, Mobile IoT (LPWA), cellular and Ethernet on Mbed.  Further, the Mbed IoT platform secures the device itself from untrusted or malicious code, as well as the communications between device and cloud, and the lifecycle of the system itself, using uVisor, Mbed TLS, and Mbed Client respectively.  Thus the platform provides device management services, making deployment and lifecycle management possible for everything from constrained devices to microcontrollers.


A Continued Need for High Speed Deterministic Networks

These advances in Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things is driving a need for high speed deterministic networks, especially in manufacturing.  Some of the prominent efforts focusing on Deterministic Industrial Control Networks/Coordinated Motion Control at Hannover 2018 included several Time Sensitive Networking (TSN IEEE 802.1) concept demonstrations as well as established solutions in use today such as PROFIdrive, CIP Sync, SERCOS, POWERLINK, and EtherCAT with TSN

Specifically, the EtherCAT Technology Group demonstrated EtherCAT running with TSN, which was supported by TSN technology providers and switch manufacturers like Moxa, Hirschmann, Hilscher and Xilinx.  The aim is for users to directly connect EtherCAT slave devices and entire networks to heterogeneous TSN domains without any change or modification to the EtherCAT devices.  In November of 2017, the EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) became the first major fieldbus organization to publish a TSN profile that specifies how their fieldbus will make use of TSN technologies.

5G & X-Ethernet Innovations 

Beckhoff and Huawei had an extremely impressive concept demonstration, using established Huawei 5G and X-Ethernet to demonstrate deterministic high-speed coordinated motion over both wired and 5G wireless communications. Thiis represented the first time this has been showed in an industrial setting. These Huawei 5G and X-Ethernet technologies are already used today in China in cellular applications.


A Sea of Edge Devices

There is a rapidly growing number of wired and wireless edge sensors coming to market from both established and nontraditional suppliers. ABB, Panduit, Bosch, Phoenix Contact, Parker, and others are all releasing devices that can be  mounted on motors, machines, and other equipment and incorporate embedded processors and sensors to monitor and provide predictive maintenance information. As IoT Edge devices are nonintrusive and typically communicate wirelessly, this market continues to experience heavy momentum.


Career 4.0

Hannover Messe 2018 didn’t just focus on the business side of things however. The Fair also had a prominent focus on talent development, education, and recruitment. This focus was based on the premise that the talent needs of industry are shifting with the influx of new technology.  Indeed, fundamental questions and thoughts were explored throughout several Career 4.0 discussing topics like: Will Industry 4.0 really lead to a huge loss of jobs in the workplace? Can we simply rethink our approach? Could it be that work is not vanishing, but rather shifting from one form to another?

One thing was very certain: If they haven’t already, companies and employees need to get smart about smart manufacturing.  This was displayed through many of the impressive programs and participants in Career 4.0 at Hannover Messe 2018:

job and career STAGE

Throughout the event, the job and career STAGE offered a comprehensive program of training sessions and presentations for personal and professional development, with 34 presentations and 27 speakers.

15th careers conference WoMenPower

Another feature was WoMenPowerconference, which featured 48 presentations for women focusing on topics including diversity, women in leadership positions, (re)starting careers, career strategies and work-life balance. The event provided attendees with information and tools to find new individual career paths, provided continuing education opportunities and opportunities to generate leads for personal and career advancement.

Forum Young Tech Enterprises

In order to cover hot topics and key trends for start-ups, the Fair also had the Forum Young Tech Enterprises. These forums focused on identifying new paths for industry via talks, presentations and panel discussions. The exhibition area offered presentation options for entrepreneurs and startups, as well as startup networks, accelerators and economic development agencies. The forums provided comprehensive information about startups and new companies every day during the fair and featured 57 presentations.

Young Engineers Day

Hannover Messe 2018 also got the engineers of the future involved through The Young Engineers Day. This event, organized by the Association of German Engineers (VDI) and Deutsche Messe AG, offered a program for students including themed guided tours and activities. The format enabled students to make direct contact with and learn from exhibitors in the fields of robotics, Industrie 4.0, lightweight construction, energy and drive technology.

Young Engineers Day evening party featured a DJ, dancing, snacks, and beverages.


2018 Hannover Messe Wrap-Up

With new innovations, fresh excited faces, exhibitors from around the globe, the Hannover Messe 2018 exemplified the exciting future in automation. We can only wonder what innovations will be on the menu for 2019 when Sweden joins Germany as the Partner country. Suffice it to say, Hannover Messe 2018 has given us a lot to discuss in the meantime


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