The attendance of US President Barack Obama at the opening of Hannover Messe yesterday has focussed attention on global industry.
“As President I have worked to make sure that we are sustaining the spirit of innovation in the United States,” Mr Obama said at the launch event, representing the USA, which is the “Partner Country” for Hannover Messe 2016. Over 5,000 businesses, including AuCom, are exhibiting their products and services at Hannover.
“We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs in new online tools to help entrepreneurs start new businesses fast. Over the last six years the United States has created more than 14 million private sector jobs including hundreds of thousands in manufacturing.
“Here at Hannover Messe you will see examples of American growth and ingenuity including a full 3D-printed electric car.”
Mr Obama’s attendance at Hannover and enthusiasm for innovation reflects has renewed focus on industry. A lot of business press focus in recent times has been on the world of IT and computing, but industrial applications, from manufacturing to pumping to mining to oil & gas, are starting to re-merge as exciting areas as technologies converge and new opportunities appear.
As head of the organising committee for Hannover Dr. Jochen Köckler said: “In the space of just five days, we will be witnessing all the key factors and trends that are going to be shaping industry and the energy sector over the next five years.”
This new era for industrial systems has been called “Industry 4.0”.
From most sources the term “Industry 4.0” is explained as the fourth industrial revolution. First there was steam and water powered machinery to help with production, second the advent of electrically driven machinery to enable mass production, and thirdly the emergence of the computer and the automation and efficiency it could bring to the production process.
This Industry 4.0 talk can seem very futuristic, with some suggesting artificial intelligent robots will basically take over most industrial applications. For many engineers and managers, we just have to focus on what’s happening today, and getting the most out of what we have.
Rather than worrying about trying to predict the future, we believe a sounder approach is to prepare for a changing world. That’s mainly about taking smarter approaches – to energy use, to operations and to control.
In industrial motor control there are implications, especially for mature technologies like soft starters. We believe there is a compelling case for the technology, but using it effectively is about taking a smart approach – to system control, to energy and to operations.