Industry Megatrends: Production in the Future will be Smarter Than Eve
HANNOVER MESSE shows how IT, machines, and people are collaborating more closely together. Many exhibitors brought show-stopping displays with them.2 May 2018
Megatrend 1: Artificial Intelligence Drives Automation
Artificial intelligence (AI) is sure to be one of the biggest trends over the next few years – and a crucial factor in international competition. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel made this clear in her opening speech at HANNOVER MESSE. With regards to the American and Chinese markets, Merkel stated, “We want to be part of the competition and be at the forefront of it.” To make this happen, Germany will be backing many activities in artificial intelligence. EU commissioner, Günther Oettinger also promised further funding into AI during his visit to the trade fair.
The exhibition showed how companies in many industries can already optimize their processes using AI. For example, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology (IDMT) presented an acoustic condition-monitoring system for axial piston pumps that is based on machine learning. Sensors record the sound of the pumps and compare the data it collects with typical levels in order to check for anomalies. In this way, possible failures are detected as early as possible and operators can see where a bearing has too much play or where the supply of lubricant is wrong. With early detection, a service technician can intervene promptly and prevent further damage being caused to the drive train or hydraulic system.
Megatrend 2: IoT Platforms Combine Data with Business
Digitizing and connecting devices, components, and processes will enable new paths for collaboration – even across company borders. Digital platforms and the internet of things (IoT) will play a significant role in this for the future. These platforms will allow data on components and devices to be collected and evaluated centrally. In addition, companies will be able to create much closer partnerships and business networks.
Siemens were among many exhibitors at HANNOVER MESSE who demonstrated the opportunities that an IoT platform can offer. In order to improve pitch maintenance at Allianz arena, Munich, Siemens installed sensors in the lawn that are connected to its cloud-based “MindSphere” IoT platform. Information on irrigation, wind, light times, and fertilization all work together in real time. The software also takes the current weather forecast into consideration in order to derive the best recommendations for soil care. The information is sent directly to the smartphone of the lawn attendant.
The case demonstrates a principle that is currently revolutionizing the entire industry. More and more machine manufacturers are offering pay-per-use models where they sell usage time to customers rather than devices like they used to. This is recorded directly by the machine and sent to a cloud platform where it is calculated and directly billed to the customer via an ERP system. This type of model also provides additional services that relate to machine operation, such as predictive maintenance. Based on anomalies in data patterns, the manufacturer can detect remotely when and where a machine is about to fail.
A central component to many of these models is digital twin technology which provides a detailed and accurate representation of a machine or system. This helps operators to monitor their assets from conception, to production, to customer support. Manufacturers and operators have access to the same data throughout the entire lifecycle of machinery.
Megatrend 3: Augmented Reality Supports Employees
An increasing number of companies today are training their employees with the use of augmented reality (AR). In contrast to virtual reality, where a user is fully immersed in a virtual world, AR enhances reality with additional information. This is ideal for training employees on how to use equipment: Smart glasses project instructions directly onto a machine. A trainee is guided step by step on how and where a specific component should be installed.
The significance of AR was underlined by the jury’s pick for the HERMES AWARD this year: Among the finalists was the company Upskill with its “Skylight” solution. This software platform enables companies to develop, test, and implement AR applications centrally. Data about production processes can be integrated directly into the AR application.
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