Hanover 2015: The Fair and Industry 4.0

The official theme of this year’s Fair was “Integrated Industry – Join the Network” but the real theme was HANNOVER MESSE 2015, 13. - 17. April“Industry 4.0.”

Industry 4.0 was noted in every booth in some way.  The best explanation of Industry 4.0 that I heard was in the ABB booth as part of the official Industry 4.0 tour that the Fair offered: Industry 4.0 has three components: things, services, and people.

The people portion is interesting in that it includes people involved in Industry 4.0, but recognizes that different preparation and training may be needed.  I have heard references to women in engineering and STEM education as part of this component.

Services has a 2-prong explanation.  Think of software services, of course, but also new kinds of services like remote monitoring of an OEM’s machine by the OEM for preventative maintenance purposes.

Things introduces the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) approach.  Around the Fair some referred to IIoT, but many referred to just the Internet of Things (IoT).  I really think the IoT label is inappropriate for us.  IIoT and IoT are two different things in my view.

The surprising phrase I kept hearing related to Industry 4.0 was “lot size of one.”  Customization or personalization was everywhere.  In the SAP booth they had a model production line assembling customized components into a unique part.  This included a metal insert with the visitor’s initials.  They spoke of OPC UA connecting to the SAP system, but I peeked into the cabinet and there were PROFINET and PROFIBUS components.

The other comment I heard from multiple people was that Industry 4.0 and IIoT were where industry was headed anyway, but now there is a name for it.  The Industry 4.0 and IIoT names provide us automation types with broader exposure to upper management.  Our news is now not just in our trade magazines but also in the Wall Street Journal.

PI technologies (PROFINET, PROFIBUS, and even IO-Link) are an important feeding mechanism, providing data to the IIoT and thence to Industry 4.0.

Next post: in the PI Booth.

–Carl Henning