Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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From the editor: Visiting the mecca of industrial technology


July 20, 2016
By Alyssa Dalton


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Jul. 20, 2016 – Picture this: robots that tower over attendees, demonstrating their strength and agility in what looks like a robotic ballet routine; business leaders speaking English, German, Mandarin, Italian and more, fully immersed in conversation around aisles of new product innovations; soccer performers and other entertainers that captivate crowds with impressive tricks; and what seems like an endless stream of eager student tours visiting exhibitor after exhibitor. And to top it all off, a real roller-coaster you could ride indoors!

I was at the mecca of industrial technology — listening to and chatting with some of today’s most brilliant manufacturing minds.

Hannover Messe 2016 was, by far, the most dynamic, exhilarating and tiring show I’ve ever attended and, as my first Hannover experience, it certainly did not disappoint. More than 5,200 exhibitors — companies of every size and technology perspective — met with more than 190,000 attendees from around the world to discuss the future of manufacturing.

This year was particularly unique — the United States was the partner country for the very first time and president Barack Obama even attended the show’s opening days, arguably making him one of the most influential attendees to date. “I am here, and we are here, because we are ready to do even more business with Germany, more business with Europe and more business with the world,” said Obama, during his opening remarks on April 24. He noted the importance of reducing tariffs and other barriers that hinder transatlantic trade and investment, all the while stressing continued partnership and collaboration amongst countries.

I attended Hannover Messe as a member of Siemens’ Canadian press delegation, where we also got to tour the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, explore the world-renowned Autostadt, and go behind the scenes at Siemens’ Amberg electronics plant (EWA).

As the largest automotive factory in Europe, Volkswagen’s 6.57 km2 Wolfsburg plant churns out 3,800 vehicles daily, thanks to the help of 3,000 robots and 22,000 workers. Its organization and efficiency makes it one of the more impressive manufacturing operations I’ve personally seen. Meanwhile, at the Amberg EWA plant, I saw how Siemens uses its own Simatic series to build new Simatic units. In fact, the entire production process is controlled by Simatic controls — from incoming goods to delivery, almost 1,000 Simatic controls are in operation. Talk about practicing what you preach.

My trip to Germany reinvigorated me, like a high from completing an intensive manufacturing bootcamp. In this “meeting of the minds” marathon, there’s no doubt Hannover 2016 did the same for many others, sparking new conversations, future deals, and potential product developments… and I can’t wait to see the results.

Check out the magazine and website for follow-up stories from my trip. Danke!

This column was originally published in the June 2016 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.