Who plays the leading role in the "fourth industrial revolution"? "Automation" was the answer given by four out of ten trade visitors in a survey following HANNOVER MESSE 2014. A quarter believed that IT is the driving force behind Industry 4.0. At least 16 percent of experts believe that mechanical engineering is the decisive industry.
"It doesn’t matter whether industrial or IT companies take on the leading role. Only together can we develop the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0 in the best possible way. And to do this we need a strong network consisting of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and IT.”
The lead theme of HANNOVER MESSE 2015, "Integrated Industry – Join the Network!", suggests that the main challenges of Industry 4.0 – such as universal standards for machine-to-machine communication and data security issues – can only be overcome within a network.
The strong presence of IT providers at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 demonstrates the degree to which these companies are entering manufacturing. Microsoft is a prime example. With around 700 square meters at the Digital Factory exhibition, the company occupies more space than ever before. Microsoft is also participating in the "Industry 4.0" guided technology tour along with software giants SAP, Accenture, T-Systems, Bosch Software Innovations, Psipenta and the IoT specialist ThingWorx.
ThingWorx’s parent company PTC (Hall 7) is also a part of the Industry 4.0 tour. This US company’s main customers can be found in discrete parts manufacturing. PTC supports them with software tools for the Internet of Things and integrated production. For the past year, PTC has been working with General Electric on a solution to close the loop between product development and the factory floor. The joint offering "Proficy + PTC Windchill" provides a PLM-MES connection that can manage a closed loop of product information between engineering, manufacturing and production. "None of our competitors has such integration in supporting the value-added process," says Jack McAvoy, Director of Analyst Relations at PTC. "We are extremely well-positioned, in particular when it comes to the model-based development of modern systems and direct performance support in the Internet of Things," stated McAvoy in an interview with Ulrich Sendler for PLMportal.
In terms of digitalization, product development and manufacturing remain separate islands. Connecting them is a key issue of Industry 4.0 at the center of the trade show Digital Factory (Halls 7 and 8). The Open Integrated Factory that SAP is presenting with the automation specialist Festo in Hall 7 also connects production and business processes and offers an integrated manufacturing system that continuously monitors itself on an SAP foundation. "We have a holistic approach to IT support in industry," says Thomas Ohnemus, Vice President Solution Marketing Extended Supply Chain of the business software giant. According to a statement Ohnemus made in PLMportal, SAP is aware of industrial manufacturing's growing need for systems engineering methods and model-based system development. Therefore, SAP has announced a new platform for Industry 4.0 and IoT in 2015. The new business division will enable customers to develop their own products and company-specific applications for the Internet of Things.