Hannover Messe 2019: It's all about enabling the smart digital factory - #1

This year’s motto at Hannover Messe was “Integrated Industries – Industrial Intelligence”. With only three days to get an overview of the major trends out there, I tried to focus on what’s happening in particular in the digital factory domain.

So, let me share with you my personal highlights related to the digital factory, which are my key take-aways from conversations I had with several execs at the fair. Speaking of whom, thanks to all of you who have taken the time for meeting up with me!

End-to-end process optimization and integration are key!

First of all, when I’m talking about a digital factory many may think about new manufacturing concepts, such as flexible and modular production cells replacing the traditional assembly line. However, in order to achieve a truly smart digital factory, among the key measures to take is to optimize processes end-to-end. This also means to embrace and apply lean management approaches on the shop floor. In this context I had an interesting conversation with IT consulting and services provider BridgingIT, whose approach to help manufacturers transform shop-floor operations is a combination of lean management consulting and the implementation of digital technologies, such as IoT, predictive analytics and AI. From my perspective, this combination of competencies is quite suitable for optimizing processes end-to-end in order to increase throughput and productivity.

SAP, certainly the predominant provider of enterprise applications to the German manufacturing industry (with around 50% of its software revenues coming from the manufacturing sector in Germany), undertook significant efforts in 2018 to better integrate its existing software solutions for design, build and operate functions to enable manufacturers to optimize processes end-to-end so as to achieve integrated processes.

Automating intralogistics process with autonomous transportation systems

When it comes to optimizing shop-floor processes, this year I saw showcases at the exhibition which often related to autonomous transportation systems. I have no doubts that these have quite some potential to further automate intralogistics processes both on the shop floor and in the warehouse. Several showcases dealt with autonomous drones, among others at the booths of T-Systems and DXC. Corresponding use cases are scanning inventory or even performing visual inspection to detect quality issues.

Autonomous vehicles in the factory are also becoming more and more intelligent, allowing a safer co-existence and collaboration between autonomous vehicles and workers on the shop floor. This was a major showcase at the SAP booth, for which SAP partner MHP had jointly developed algorithms with Serva Transport Systems on top of SAP’s MII to make Serva’s transportation vehicles smart.

For further insights from HMI 2019, read my blog posts on…

…edge computing, quantum-inspired technologies, data management, and MES (#2);
…on production networks in the cloud, and the rise of industrial ecosystems (#3).