Hannover Messe 2019, Day 1: Innovation challenged by human concerns

Supply chain leaders won’t link with digitalization; AI has human workers nervous.

By Bob Vavra April 1, 2019

Hannover Messe 2019, the world’s largest industrial trade show, opened its 62nd edition April 1. The event started with an expected 200,000 attendees over the five-day run of the show and more than 6,500 exhibitors from 75 countries looking to grab their attention.

Sweden, the 2019 Partner Country, introduced itself to the more than 3,000 attendees at this year’s Opening Ceremony March 31. The 2019 Hermes Award winner, presented each year for the innovative product at the show, took a new approach to an old technology.

While products are the stars at Hannover Messe each spring, it is the human element that remains top of mind. Some of the research released at the conference points to issues around supply chain and artificial intelligence that could delay or derail the implementation of Industrie 4.0.

Among the show’s early highlights:

Getting supply chain managers to use technology

A study by the German Federal Association for Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics (BME) and the Fulda University of Applied Sciences found few supply chain managers are utilizing inexpensive sensors or digital twins to improve operations.

The 251 logistics sector respondents said they are familiar with digitization offerings but utilize only strategies such as cloud computing, robots, automation and, to some extent, big data analytics. The bigger news—they don’t expect this to change in the next two years.

“The results surprised us,” says Carsten Knauer from BME in a press release. BME officials suggested the supply chain managers who are reluctant to move into digitalization will be left behind as the industry moves toward a more digitized operational model. This is seen as essential to meet with accelerating product design, demand and delivery that is changing the way manufacturing operates.

One Hannover Messe vendor made it even clearer. Officials from software developer Promatis said simply, “No Industrie 4.0 without supply chain digitization.”

AI has the human worker a little nervous

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more pervasive, the human workers who possess the non-artificial kind of intelligence are concerned for their employment future.

The Global Talent Trends Study 2019 produced by consultancy company Mercer found one in three workers are afraid their jobs could be eliminated by AI and automation. Another part of the survey noted that employees now want a clearer definition of their duties and responsibilities as technology continues to evolve.

Among the things workers would like communicated is a clearer sense of their personal value to the organization. The press release announcing the Mercer study noted that German human resources departments identify “employee fluctuation” and a “decline in employee confidence” as two of the biggest challenges for the coming year.

NanoWired’s ‘Velcro solution’ wins Hermes award

The best thing about Velcro is not only can you secure items with it, you also can pull it apart. For the 2019 Hermes Award winner, announced at the opening ceremony, their Velcro-like solution to connect wire components comes together in the same way Velcro does—but it won’t come apart.

NanoWired GmbH received the award for its “KlettWelding” solution to easily assemble and connect electronic components at room temperature. The Gernsheim, Germany start-up was solution was called “an ingenious process because it is fast and eco-friendly and produces permanent connections.” Hermes award judges further called the KlettWelding “a first-rate innovation with a broad range of applications.”

Professor Reimund Neugebauer, president of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and chair of the Hermes jury, said the KlettWelding “lends itself to a broad range of potential applications in multiple segments, including sensors, semiconductors, automotive systems and consumer goods, offering the ability to switch production processes from soldering to simply pressing components together at room temperature. What’s more, NanoWired’s process is cheaper than soldering and bonding and has already been applied successfully in almost 20 industrial projects.”

The surfaces of the electronic components to be connected are coated with a Velcro-like layer of nano-sized metal wires. “Components pre-treated in this way can then be connected simply by pressing them together, causing the nanowires to interlock and form a connection that—unlike an actual Velcro connection—is permanent and highly electrically and thermally conductive,” Hermes award officials said in a press release.

ONLINE extra

See additional Hannover Messe coverage on Control Engineering and Plant Engineering’s homepage.

Author Bio: Bob is the Content Manager for Plant Engineering.