Tackling manufacturing’s global issues
Output can grow worldwide in 2014 with an integrated approach
A strengthening global manufacturing market, and an understanding of its importance, is drawing optimism to the 2014 Hannover Messe in Germany. The world's largest industrial manufacturing
trade event, Hannover Messe will attract a worldwide audience to the fair from April 7-11. The fair attracts more than 250,000 visitors annually, and the 2014 show whas signed up more than 6,500 exhibitors.
With “Integrated Industry—Next Steps” as the 2014 theme, Hannover Messe officials said global manufacturing is poised for strong growth in the next year of local issues in each region can be minimized.
“I'm convinced 2014 will be a decisive year for the industrial sector,” said Dr. Jochen Koeckler, a member of the Hannover Messe board, at a press conference in Berlin previewing the 2014 event. “The national and international press are now convinced manufacturing industries are important, that services and banking alone do not protect you against crisis.”
The 2014 Hannover Messe will focus on two key areas: the movement toward an integrated manufacturing plant—the concept of Industry 4.0—and the importance of energy and environmental system to solve manufacturing's long-term power issues.
The turning point for manufacturing has come with the shifting of manufacturing emphasis to the U.S. This occurs as wages in China continue to rise, and the European Union's issues with slow industry growth from countries like Greece and Spain.
Koeckler said China, the 2012 Hannover Messe Partner Nation, will welcome new automation to combat the tide of rising wages. "It is a huge market for high-tech," said Koeckler. He also said lower energy prices in the U.S. helped boost the concept of reshoring in the last two years.
For the 2014 show, Hannover Messe officials expect representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers will attend the show to explore ways to attract more manufacturing investment and export opportunities.
And with the arrival of the Industrial Internet, manufacturers looking to utilize this new strategy to their advantage will need to look beyond their four walls to do so.
It is a crucial issues for Philip Harting, a third-generation manufacturing leader at the Harting Corp., which has been a global leader in industrial connectivity and automation for decades.
“Harting is well known as an expert on connectivity solutions. We have a great deal of application expertise,” said Harting, who besides his role as partner is also vice president of Harting’s connectivity and network business. “Our business today is not to sell products. We’re selling know-how. We’re selling advice. This means we’ve reached a level of partnership with our customer.”
For Harting, these issues are important not only as a manufacturing supplier, but also as a manufacturer. That’s one reason he finds such value in Hannover Messe each year.
“Hannover has broad spectrum of leading industrial supply companies, energy companies, factory automation companies,” said Harting. “There’s not just a focus on one type of product. There’s a broad spectrum, a big variety. We’re seeing more and more international guests.”
The annual show is also a major political event. In 2014, the Netherlands will be the Partner Nation at Hannover Messe, and German chancellor Angela Merkel will welcome Dutch Prime Minister H.E. Mark Rutte to a gala opening ceremony on Sunday and a tour of the fairgrounds Monday.
The U.S. also is expected to be well-represented at Hannover Messe this year as the issue of global trade continues to be a hot issue. The U.S. Department of Commerce will sponsor a trade delegation to Hannover Messe in the hopes of attracting more German manufacturers to open plants in the U.S. At the same time, U.S. manufacturers will be seeking distributors for their products in Germany and Europe.
Harting is also a global manufacturer, with a manufacturing plant in Illinois and a presence in more than 40 countries worldwide. With a global presence come local issues.
“Lifecycle costs are getting more important,” Harting said. “Customers are asking us more about the environmental impact of our products, all the way to what happens to the product at the end of the lifecycle. In North America and Brazil, they ask us about local manufacturing.”
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.