The world’s largest trade fair for production technology is back with a bang for 2023. Manufacturers’ Monthly finds out what is shaping and moving industry and the latest trends in technology for manufacturers.
EMO Hannover 2023 will welcome over 2200 exhibiting companies and more than 116,000 professional attendees both in Hannover and digitally. The show is moving towards the theme of “innovate manufacturing,” reflected by a new format focused on cross-sector communication.
In September this year, production experts will learn about the latest in industry technology, with four joint booths focusing on additive manufacturing, connectivity, open space cobot solutions, and sustainability.
Martin Göbel, Director Exhibitions at the EMO organiser VDW (Verein Deutscher Werkzeugmaschinenfabriken, or German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) in Frankfurt am Main, knows the value of a visit.
“Nowhere else can production specialists experience the sector’s innovations so close up – presented in thematic packages over the entire process chain, and up to date at all times,” he said. “So, if you’re coming to EMO Hannover 2023 in September, you shouldn’t miss out on the joint booths.”
Innovative 3D printing as a fixed constituent
Whether in aircraft construction, medical engineering, or the hydrogen economy – additive manufacturing methods are becoming more important to production. And the business prospects are good.
A survey among around 200 member companies of the Additive Manufacturing Working Group within the VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau, or German Engineering Federation), found almost three quarters of companies are expecting an upward trend in the next 24 months.
However, the technology can only utilise its full potential when it is integrated successfully in highly automated industrial process chains. This will be demonstrated in the Additive Manufacturing Area, where companies will be presenting pioneering concepts from the whole bandwidth of the additive process chain, whether direct and indirect 3D printing technologies, engineering materials, or rapid product development (RPD).
Connectivity of production processes at a glance
In digital production, machines must be able to communicate with each other, irrespective of their make, age, or controller.
The Future of Connectivity Area focuses on these processes. Here, visitors will encounter new applications, automation processes, smart production, Industry 4.0, machine learning, predictive maintenance, IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things), as well as many other aspects of connectivity. The editorial series Future of Connectivity will also be reporting on these subjects in the run-up to EMO Hannover.
Humans and robots working hand in hand
More and more companies are investing heavily in automation to maintain their productivity and competitive strength, to augment their resilience and versatility and to keep pace with growing demand. For instance, the number of new industrial robots installed in 2021 exceeded the 500,000 mark for the first time.
Cobots, or collaborative robots, are particularly in high demand, already making up 7.5 percent of all installed industrial robots.
The Open Space Cobot Solutions
Area is fully dedicated to the interactions between humans and industrial robots and their actual and potential applications. Manufacturers will present to an international trade public their automation solutions based on cobots and their innovative use: grippers, image processing, measuring systems, software, industrial electronics, feed systems, and much more can be experienced up close.
Sustainability to underlie tomorrow’s production
The declared goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement is to limit the rise in the mean global temperature to a maximum of two degrees Celsius. Since that announcement it has become clear that the subject of sustainability is seen as a challenge of global imports affecting society as a whole.
Among other intentions, the European Union has resolved as a result to render its economy and society carbon-neutral by 2050. The manufacturing industry too is feeling the considerable effects, and sees itself faced with equally imposing challenges and opportunities.
At EMO Hannover 2023, the Future of Sustainability in Production Area provides the ideal environment for experiencing the latest solutions for tomorrow’s production. Here visitors can learn about the current trends in energy efficiency, the integration of renewable energies, circular economy, and lifecycle concepts. The exhibit reveals plans for climate protection and reduced production costs in times of persistently scarce energy and raw materials.
From the research lab straight to the shop floor
Artificial intelligence (AI) for efficient production – An important technology is moving from the research lab into daily use. Not fast enough, perhaps, in the view of those hoping to gain a significant competitive edge from AI. Rather sinisterly in the view of others who currently only have a vague idea of how self-thinking machines could change their everyday working lives.
In the “Future of Business” focus topic at EMO Hannover 2023, experts will be answering urgent questions about new business and working methods. Meanwhile, German universities are supporting AI by convincing local companies to implement AI applications, and by preparing employees to perform new tasks.
ProKI (ProAI), is playing a crucial role here. This is the name of an initiative launched by the WGP (German Academic Association for Production Technology) at the end of last year.
Backed by 17 million euros of funding provided by the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research), a nationwide demonstration and transfer network is being set up at a total of eight locations to provide practical support for the implementation of AI solutions in industry.
The initiative is coordinated by the WZL (Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering) at RWTH Aachen University. Taking part are institutes in Berlin, Darmstadt, Dresden, Hannover, Ilmenau, Karlsruhe and Nuremberg.
In line with their respective research focuses, they are providing demonstrators and test environments for manufacturing companies in the fields of joining, forming, machining and coating.
A wide range of services provided free of charge to companies
“Each individual site is basically autonomous,” explained Christian Fimmers, coordinator of the ProKI network. “But they are in constant touch with each other.” A common brand will be set up with the same training formats, and there will be a website and social media activities aimed at achieving the greatest possible reach and maximum awareness.
The services offered range from information events, personalised consultations, workshops and seminars through to practical support for company- specific projects. Participation is free of charge for companies. The overriding goal is to provide a point of contact for as many companies as possible with an interest in AI – especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Overcoming skepticism among SMEs
The institutes involved in this event include the PtU (Institute for Production Engineering and Forming Machines) at TU Darmstadt. Christian Kubik, head of the Process Chains and Plants department, serves as the Centre’s managing director and said more than 80 companies registered to take part in the first ProKI InfoPoint in Darmstadt. “The interest is there,” Kubik noted.
However, there is a certain amount of apprehension, especially among SMEs. This is reflected in scepticism about the technology, fears of losing control, a lack of expertise, and the fact that the ROI (return on investment) is not always easy to determine. The ProKI InfoPoints now take place online once a month.
They last one hour and are divided into three 15-minute keynote presentations from academia and industry. The topics illuminate different angles of how the use of AI technologies can improve companies’ internal KPIs. Once interest has been aroused, a personal consultation is arranged. Opportunities for AI solutions are then explored. Finally, a visit is paid to the company.
“Our motto is: Less talk and more action,” Kubik emphasized.
For many SMEs, the topic of artificial intelligence not only opens up new possibilities, but also brings new problems, at least initially. This applies to the development of a digital infrastructure for the factory as well as to employee training.
“This, of course, raises the question of whether it makes sense to give a key production worker half a day off for training,” Kubik admitted.
The time factor, he said, is a major hurdle, especially nowadays with the increasing shortage of skilled workers. Here, it is important for the initiative to show the necessary sensitivity, to determine the exact cost-benefit ratio and also to show how it is possible to take small steps in adopting the new technology.
“The companies which are convinced and are really keen are already sending us their staff,” Kubik said. Enhancing employees’ skills is the order of the day.
To learn more about EMO Hannover 2023, visit here.