The chances of digitization, electrification and automation gave rise to visit the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology in Hannover. Future and trendsetting signals related to the digitization of manufacturing and energy were conveyed by the keynote theme “Integrated Industry – Discover Solutions”. In FACTS4WORKERS we want to put the industrial aspect to the fore, and for this it is useful to think about showcasing developed prototypes and demonstrators at such a fair. The Hannover Fair offers a great opportunity to demonstrate both individual solutions on existing machines as well as integration of entire production including data collection and analysis.
The focus of our visit was to gain insights about various application fields of industry 4.0 like Digital Factory, Smart Factory or Industrial Automation, which are touched upon briefly below. When walking the halls, you immediately get the impression that there has already been a serious progress in the integration of production systems and will be even more in the future. The access to timely manufacturing data and the accurate tracking and monitoring of work progress on the production line is becoming increasingly important. In this context, one of the key players SAP introduced their solution SAP ME – in Manufacturing Execution. The parts, whose data are managed in the MES, can be traced very easily and in real time, by using so-called “ME-dialogues”, via done massages of the operators for every work step. Therefore the software system is implemented as part of the integrated manufacturing at the manufacturer, via Thin Clients. The big players are aiming to provide ICT systems which cover all levels of data and information throughout the automation pyramid on a proprietary basis. It obviously is still no strategy to provide open interfaces or even direct access, however, all companies assure to customize all kinds of interfaces, if a customer should require.
With industry 4.0 the industrial production evolves more and more towards modularity. As an example, the technology initiative SmartFactoryKL developed a comprehensive IT network platform that offers a uniform integration of all production modules to the comprehensive IT services. The cross-vendor compatibility with universal connectors is intended to guarantee electricity and compressed air, industrial Ethernet and emergency stop. Flexibility and quick configuration of the production line are at the forefront and the smart product controls its production process itself, by means of RFID identification. This system is crying out for standardized system interfaces, which will now be really indispensable.
Wearable devices like smart glasses, has been very rare at the fare. One of the presented use-cases has been shown by Accenture Digital an example on positioning the seats in an aircraft cabin which is already in the state of implementation. Other applications regarding Augmented Reality were presented by some organizations like Fraunhofer IGD Institute, SAP and also our sister project, SATISFACTORY, whose booth we also visited. The SATISFACTORY on-the-job training solution utilises an AR platform, developed especially for industrial environments to provide innovative and efficient workforce training. The example demonstrates the marker-less object recognition for assembling specific parts.
One of the key objectives of our visit to this most important trade show on production technologies is to gather comprehensive insights whether our developed solutions will be accepted in this market and what possible competitors, whether in the research or industrial application fields, are already exploring our approaches. Whilst the fair was strongly focusing on technology, to us it is still a bit of a surprise that workers needs and worker centric approaches apparently where not a matter of particular focus.
With our visit this year, the planning for our next year appearance has been kicked off. As already foreseen, it is extremely difficult for a single research project like the FACTS4WORKERS project, to reach relevant visibility on such a big event. This assessment has also been supported by our colleagues from CERTH who have presented the SATISFACTORY results on their own booth. So it will be a key to connect with similar projects and initiatives to create a strong cluster which can attract visitors and business opportunities. A cooperation with SATISFACTORY is envisaged, other similar projects will be welcome to join. Just drop us a note!