Festo gets Hannover Messe hopping
Festo brought a kangaroo to Hannover Messe. That’s one of those sentences they told us we’d never have to write when I went to journalism school.
The opening press tour at Hannover Messe each year allows the journalists to get a preview of the booths at the annual industrial trade event. While all of those tours show off great innovation, the real fun is always at the Festo booth, which has featured flying penguins, soaring birds, and bionic hands that operate by remote control. This year, Festo showed off its research into a bionic mechanical device by developing a kangaroo that jumps when prompted by the wave of a hand.
The result of the two years of research and development on this bionic kangaroo is somewhat whimsical, but there are also practical applications at work. Engineers used electrical drives to simulate the kangaroo’s powerful jumping motion, a sensor system in the body and legs, and motorized tail and hips. All of them have to work together to accurately simulate the natural motion of the kangaroo, including a shift of its center of gravity before takeoff and energy storage when it lands.
"The BionicKangaroo demonstrates several aspects of integrated automation at once," Festo officials said in its press kit. "The system brings its components together in the smallest space. The many functions are coordinated using a highly complex control technology system."
The only thing missing was the pouch. Some innovations take more time.
Something fishy here?
There is bilateral support between German government officials and American business leaders for the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). That trade deal, also known as the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), was the primary focus of Monday afternoon’s U.S. Trade and Investment Summit, hosted by Hannover Fairs USA and Hannover Messe. The event featured speakers from both German and American interest groups.
TTIP would look to reduce trade tariffs and other trade barriers, and would seek to harmonize standards between the two large global trading regions. Negotiations are under way to complete this trade deal, and it has run into opposition from various groups on both sides of the Atlantic.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a strong supporter of the trade deal, and its president, Tom Donohue, noted at the forum that one of the essential elements of this trade deal is speed. "The first thing we need to do is move quickly," Donahue said to more than 100 business leaders, many from U.S. states looking to attract German investment. "If we let it sit too long, it’s going to be like old fish."
During a panel discussion with U.S. and German business leaders, Bernhard Mattes, president of AmCham and vice-president of the board of Ford-Werke GmbH, noted Donohue’s remarks and said, "All the facts are on the table. Let’s just do it. Let’s get it done. Fresh fish is what we need."
Putting it together
Hannover Messe is by far the largest industrial trade show in the world, with 5,000 companies from 65 countries displaying their products and more than 250,000 attendees expected for the week. What is remarkable is the logistics of pulling such a show together. With that in mind, here’s a before-and-after look at the show floor in the Industrial Automation hall 24 hours apart. On the left is Sunday’s chaos; on the right is Monday’s busy exhibition.
The Terminology Gap
As the U.S. and the European Union discuss a bilateral trade agreement, one of the first things you note is that its name isn’t quite settled. The leading choice is TTIP, standing for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. It’s also been called the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement, but it may be that TATFA hasn’t caught on with most folks talking about it because the acronym NAFTA still is unpopular in some circles. Of course, some people opposed NAFTA because it was going to drive all American manufacturing jobs to Mexico, and that never quite happened.
The same issue appears with the way to describe the integration of automation IT and production. In the U.S., the leading term is "Internet of Things," or IoT. In Europe, especially in Germany, the term is "Industry 4.0," signifying the 4th Industrial Revolution. We may not be able to agree on everything, or even most things, but we should be able to agree on what it is we’re calling what we’re not agreeing about.
Plant Engineering will be providing daily coverage of the Hannover Messe conference at plantengineering.com.
Festo is a CSIA member as of 3/5/2015