Latest Trends in Hannover Messe 2017 What Are Trends of Industrial Technologies for Producing "New Value"?

Ito Corporation sent an observation team to "Hannover Messe 2017," a world industrial show held in Germany on April 24 through 28, 2017. The following is the report by the team on "Industry 4.0," which is the theme of the show, recent IoT trends in the manufacturing industry, etc.

Hannover Messe, a World Industrial Show in Germany

Entrance of Hannover Messe

Hannover Messe is the world's largest industrial show held in Hannover, Germany. Its theme is "Industry 4.0," meaning the fourth industrial revolution, and attracts the latest technologies and products from all over the world. It is also a place for new business contacts, with business contacts reaching 5.6 millions last year. This year it attracted more than 200 thousand attendees.

We send an observation team every year since 2015 to catch up with the global market and the latest industrial trends. This year, we recruited team members from all our employees and selected seven members, from young to experienced employees, in two subteams. Their objective was "to find products which can be newly proposed to our customers" and attended the show after studying products of various companies.

Creating "New Value" Considering Recent IoT

Offered by Hannover Messe

The theme of this year's show was "Integrated Industry - Creating Value."

In recent years, IoT is attracting attention also in the manufacturing industry. In the last year's show, there were many exhibitions of robots which coordinate with other manufacturing devices through networks and those of newly developed software. This year, we noticed more exhibitions of technologies offering "new value" in addition to "controlling through a network," such as work support and management using wearable devices and securing workplace safety using sensors.

Especially, we assumed that sensor devices for perceiving things and humans had large possibilities of development and actively studied such sensor devices and latest devices. We present below two companies which especially attracted our attention among many exhibitions.

SICK: Sensors for Robots and Humans to "Collaborate"

SICK exhibition booth

SICK is a leading German company in the sensor industry, which was the first in the world to develop and produce photoelectric sensors. It offers sensors for industrial application and sensor solutions. In the show, we witnessed SICK photoelectric sensors being used in robots exhibited by other companies.

The most interesting exhibitions in their booth were sensors which automatically stop the motion of the robot if a human enters the range of the robot's movement and those which detect any human approaching AGV (automated guided vehicle). Their exhibitions seemed to be proposals for "robots and humans to collaborate" with the use of various sensors.

In addition, they demonstrated "a shape recognition system," which can quickly recognize objects moving in any position or direction on a conveyer if several patterns of their shapes have been memorized in advance. It can sort products sent randomly to a sorter and thus will be valuable in the area of distribution.

SCHUNK: A Robot Hand with Sensors Wins an Technology Prize

SCHUNK exhibition booth

SCHUNK is a German manufacturer which develops and produces grips and hands of robots and their clamping systems. In this show, they exhibited a robot hand with sensors, a new product.

The Co-act Gripper JL1 is an intelligent gripper which can cooperate with humans and operate safely. It is a robot hand system whose gripper is equipped with touch sensors, which allow the gripper to hold an object of various materials and shapes. Because of its superior functions, it received "the Hermes Award," one of the most coveted technology prizes.

Robot hands of SCHUNK were used on the majority of robots exhibited by main robot manufacturers and contributed to their demonstrations. SCHUNK robot hands use carbon materials, which are light and easy to process, and their round and gentle design was highly evaluated. Their excellent European design was very interesting, and design seems to be an element which Japanese products need to incorporate.

A Further Step Forward from IoT. Proposal of Products for "New Value"

Many exhibitions in Hannover Messe focused on "collaboration between robots and humans," especially cobots (collaborative robots). Furthermore, people gathered around booths where exhibitions were presented in impressive ways, such as people shaking hands with a robot and handing an object to a robot, which receives and holds it.

The expansion of IoT has accelerated around the world the automation of manufacturing sites through networks. What is needed in this process is to consider "ways to collaborate between robots and humans." To secure the safety of workers, sensors for recognizing object and humans seem to become necessary, and we could see the world's latest technologies for it in the show. This visit was very valuable for considering collaboration between robots and humans.

We will continue to expand our product line, including various sensors, by catching up with technologies around the world and to propose new solutions to meet our customers' requests.

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