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Industry 4.0 Becomes Reality

Symbio’s Finland team just returned from Hannover Messe in Germany, the biggest industrial event in the world, and we are very inspired by the insight and information gained during discussions with clients and partners. The event held 190,000 participants, of which over 25% reside outside of Germany. Attendance from China and the United States also reached record heights with 5000 participants from the United States and 6000 from China. Exhibitors showcased over 400 real examples of IoT solutions, which create new services, efficiencies and improve maintenance in a variety of innovative ways. Industrie 4.0., digitization, advance robotics, and the trade agreement between Europe and the United States were some of the most interesting topics in 2016. We were especially intrigued at how the manufacturing, process, automotive and energy industries are adapting to digitization and the kinds of solutions companies in different markets are already utilizing.

German Industrie 4.0. or better known globally as Industry 4.0, connects embedded system production technologies and smart production processes to pave the way for the new technological age. McKinsey describes Industry 4.0. in their definition as the next phase in the digitization, following the lean revolution of the 1970s, the outsourcing phenomenon of the 1990s, and the automation that took off in the 2000s. There has been an astonishing rise in data volumes, computational power, connectivity, analytics and business-intelligence capabilities. Additionally, new forms of human-machine interaction such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems, and improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world, such as advanced robotics and 3-D printing are reasons why Industry 4.0 is reality for today.

This year the United States was the official partner country of Hannover Messe, and President Barack Obama opened the fair! This sent a positive and strong message to all participants on a number of technology levels. Automation makes personnel costs less important and more appealing to bring manufacturing closer to the markets. Obama also underlined how important the trade agreement between Europe and the United States is in order for the western countries to stay competitive. Both Obama and the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel promised to do everything in their power to realize the trade agreement before Obama’s presidency ends.

What else did we learn? Robots had evolved a lot from last year. They had a large presence at the event, and trends from 2015 like human-machine collaboration have also progressed. ABB’s Yumi robot uses torques sensors, which allows humans to work closer to robots without interference. Sensor allows robots and human to work side by side without protective cage, because any touch to sensor stops the robot movement immediately. This prevents fatal accidents, which could be caused from human’s accidently ending up in the working zone of a robot. Robots have been previously programmed with robot languages designed by each robot manufacturer. The new models however like Kuka’s KR 3 Agilus utilize common programming languages like Java, which make them easier to integrate to existing product lines and other systems. This kind of development has been a special request from manufacturing customers. Also, smaller 3-kilo lifting class robots designed for consumer electronics’ assembly were the newcomers in 2016 Hannover Messe. These smaller robots are popular in Asia, where rising personnel costs and lowering motivation of the people for basic assembly jobs, has made robots an interesting option. Some companies also presented futuristic experiments utilizing the animal strengths like the grapping technique of chameleon, butterfly’s low consumption of energy for lifting object or ants ability for collaborative were all great experiments in robots.

Automotive digitization is also moving forward, not only in solutions for connected car and autonomous driving, but also in road infrastructure solutions for electrical vehicles. In EV, the charging station providers are figuring out business models like kilometer as a service and upload as a service. Energy companies are utilizing IoT to real-time monitoring of the network infrastructure, balancing of electrical network and consumer based pricing models. The biggest trend however in renewable energy, of which sun, wind and wave are the most reckoned options. In the process industry, mass production is transforming to a series of production and modular production lines, which allow quicker responsiveness to changes in the market and customer-based customized solutions.

If you are interested to learn more about Industrial Internet, Digitization, IoT solutions, Software development or Testing, download Symbio’s Internet of Things Datasheet now. You can also contact us anytime at marketing@symbio.com; we’re ready to help bring your innovation to market!