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Industrial mass production is now increasingly moving towards customized mass production in a megatrend commonly referred to as individualization. And being a megatrend, it is universal. It is not confined to specific pockets of manufacturing. The trend is driven by our human desire to be different and make our own decisions, to bend the world around us to our needs rather than the other way around. In a word: self-realization. That may sound like egotism and egocentrism, but it’s also about recognizing and accepting diversity and being tolerant of differing values and viewpoints.

For the consumer markets, individualization means fragmentation into ever-smaller segments – the end of mass markets and a return to individualized products. Industrial customers, too, increasingly expect individualized products and solutions. As a result, mass production is converging with customization to create mass customization. The challenge, of course, is to manufacture individualized products quickly and profitably.

Similarly, creating customized solutions for development, design engineering and production calls for innovative technology. Which is where the digitalization megatrend comes in. Industry 4.0 technologies are the key to being able to produce one-off items at the low cost of mass produced goods without skimping on quality. Examples of these technologies include automation, intelligent, digitally connected systems and production processes, and new production processes like additive manufacturing.

The world has known all this for some time, but the majority of its factories have yet to become smart. What’s needed is a massive technology transformation towards greater efficiency in the form of modular production in highly reconfigurable factories, greater use of artificial intelligence and, of course, training to give people the skills they need for new forms of work.

The world needs change, and industry is a bringer of change. That is why the lead theme of HANNOVER MESSE 2020 is Industrial Transformation. The subject of individualization will feature prominently at the show’s numerous forums and conferences as well as the exhibition stands. HANNOVER MESSE’s central platform for discussion on the megatrends of climate change, digitalization, individualization and demographic change and the challenges and consequences arising from them is the Transformation Stage in Hall 25. There, on each day of HANNOVER MESSE, leading figures from industry, science and wider society will address the big issues and challenges of our times with courage, passion and hard-hitting honesty.