Posted on 5/9/2018

5 Things We Learned at Hannover Messe

Noel Nevshehir, Lisa Lasser & Eriola Fishman

Innovation is driving industry across the globe, and this was on full display at the recent Hannover Messe industrial trade fair in Hannover, Germany last month. This week on the blog, Automation Alley’s International Business Services team discusses what they learned at this Industry 4.0 showcase and how Michigan companies can capitalize on big opportunities ahead.

1. Big Data is fast becoming the most valuable resource in the world: Although this has been one of the underlying themes of recent Hannover Messe trade fairs, the major difference today is that we now have the computational ability to render raw data into meaningful analysis and actionable next steps. This is largely attributed to advances in artificial intelligence and “self-taught” machine learning.

2. Digitization is proving to be a jobs engine: Taken together, Industry 4.0 technologies have resulted in new product development cycles, increased manufacturing efficiency and productivity, all the while reducing company costs. And given their capital intensity, more and more advanced manufacturing economies are moving to insource their production away from cheap-labor countries. This phenomenon is a paradigm shift that will lead to the creation of high-paying, high-value added manufacturing jobs in the U.S., but only if we have the talent and skills required to support it.

3. Human-robot collaboration is the wave of the future: Humans and robots working seamlessly alongside each other are still a ways off, but development is well underway on these so-called “cobots.” "Technology is not about competing with us humans, it's about assisting us. That is the core message conveyed by this trade fair, which has again underscored Hannover's reputation as a global hotspot for the digital transformation of industry," said Dr. Jochen Köckler, chairman of the managing board at Deutsche Messe, at the close of Hannover Messe. "The focus here has clearly been on the human element: We're the ones making the decisions and setting the course. The interaction of humans with machines and IT adds up to a huge competitive gain across manufacturing, logistics and the energy industry."

4. Industry 4.0 is a global phenomenon: Germany is not the only industrial nation working on the implementation of Industry 4.0. China is currently carrying out its "China 2025" program which takes Industry 4.0 as its model. The Japanese government has launched its "Society 5.0" and "Industrial Value Chain Initiative" activities, the latter of which has a strong focus on robotics. South Korea has its own "Smart Factory Initiative" and a broader "Fourth Industrial Revolution" program. The "Industrial Internet Consortium" established in the U.S. has a broader focus, but does not go into much detail in the area of production. The UK and Sweden's "Catapult" and "Production 2030" programs also pick up on the key themes of Industry 4.0. These countries are not just looking to see what is happening in Germany, they are already engaged in intensive activities. In the U.S., Automation Alley is leading the charge as the Industry 4.0 knowledge center in the state of Michigan and beyond.

5. Industry 4.0 is much more than production automation: Consulting company Ernst & Young has focused on industrial SMEs and found that mechanical engineering invests more than average in digitization. Small industrial companies, however, may be left behind. The U.S. supply chain is late to the party, but not necessarily behind at this point. Time and again, the business community in the U.S. has demonstrated its resilience, ability to adapt and innovate. Industry 4.0 is no different. We are confident that America's can-do attitude and bias for action will help us overcome any short-term challenges that digital disruption presents.


About the Author

Noel Nevshehir, Lisa Lasser & Eriola Fishman

Automation Alley’s International Business Services team assists Michigan companies in expanding their markets overseas through global trade and export activities, including international trade missions. The team also oversees Automation Alley’s International Business Center in Troy, Mich., available as a soft landing space for foreign companies looking to expand to Southeast Michigan.


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Lee Redding

University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business

Automation Alley Staff

Automation Alley

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