Manufacturing’s global issues, local solutions
With his family’s name on the business, Philip Harting sees connectivity as a key to grow
Call it the Internet of Things. Call It Industry 4.0. By any language, the age of the Industrial Internet has arrived, and manufacturers looking to utilize this new strategy to their advantage will need to look beyond their four walls to do so.
So when more than 30 major global manufacturing suppliers arrived in Berlin on Feb. 11 for the preview of the 2014 Hannover Messe trade show, they came with the goal of helping the global manufacturing trade media explain to manufacturers why these were important times to reinvest in their plants.
These are 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.”
The 2014 Hannover Messe is April 7-11 in Hannover Germany. The world’s largest manufacturing trade event, its focus will be on industrial connectivity and energy management, two issues key to companies like Harting—not only as manufacturing suppliers but also as manufacturers.
“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 top Dutch heads of state 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.”
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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey