Microsoft, Gov. Walker making presence felt at Hannover Messe

Hannover Notes: Microsoft expanding the concept of HMI; Gov. Scott Walker makes a visit to fair; Hannover Messe after hours


HANNOVER, GERMANY: Microsoft is a familiar global brand and a U.S. business giant, but your first thought isn't of them as a manufacturing partner. In fact, it's been a few years since Microsoft has come to Hannover Messe with as significant a presence as they have in 2015. The company sees its role as a facilitator of data management, and it showed off several dashboard HMIs on the show floor in Hannover. That is an extension of their strong interest in the Industry 4.0/Internet of Things initiatives that are integral to every technology booth at Hannover this year.

"When you look at the industrial automation space, there's been a lot of progress around real-time data capture and managing business processes," said Sanjay Ravi, worldwide managing director for Microsoft's discrete manufacturing business. "There's so much optimization happening in manufacturing.

Ravi said there are two issues driving the surge in system intelligence. One is the unlimited computing power available today, and the other is the rich data platforms now available. "You have all this data, but now with this rich data platform, machine are learning what they need to do based on the data. A human can show the machine what needs to be done and the machine can just do it, with no programming."

Gov. Walker visits fairgrounds

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker visited Hannover Messe Tuesday as part of his week-long economic development tour of Germany. Walker spoke briefly at the fair in support of the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIF). It's one of the few areas where Walker, who has been mentioned as a Republican presidential candidate, and President Obama are on common ground.

Research and Technology: Leading Trade Fair for Research, Development and Technology Transfer. Courtesy: Hannover MesseThe TTIF, also called the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), has supporters on both sides of the Atlantic, but negotiations of a trade deal that would strive to reduce trade barriers between the United States and the European Union has proven to be an intense and occasionally tense process. Obama began the negotiations in 2013, and hopes to have a final deal in place before he leaves office and Walker or another presidential hopeful steps in to replace him in 2017.

Hannover Messe after hours

The trade fair part of Hannover Messe is a fairly buttoned-down affair. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, business is conducted and customers wooed in the show halls. Unlike most North American trade events, which tend toward marketing, the Hannover Messe is a sales show, and customers come with money to spend and manufacturing needs to be met. 

After 5 p.m., however, Hannover Messe becomes a funground, with cocktail events and dinners scattered throughout the show floor. While the more informal events take place in the halls, the Bierhaus on the fairgrounds is the magnet that draws show workers and customers to relax and really unwind.

The beer is endless, and served in massive glass steins. The pork is plentiful, served by cheerful fräulein. And the music is truly spectacular, performed by what looks like a German oompah band. Few such bands you've ever seen have a repertoire that includes Tom Jones, The Beatles, ABBA and AC/DC. At the end of a long day, it's a 3,000-seat, double decker break from the show.

- Bob Vavra is content manager, Plant 

See additional Hannover Messe coverage below.

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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

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