This April, Frenus was present at two leading events at the same time. Whereas a part of the team attended Webit in the Balkan metropolis Sofia, the office based in Stuttgart visited Hannover Messe. The industrial fair, which had smart Robots, intelligent machines and networked energy infrastructure as focus topics, reached a new visitor’s record with 225.000 attendees. In addition to that, 75.000 international guests were present.
“Der Mittelstand” and Industry 4.0
After numerous conversations and conferences, one thing became apparent: the time for hesitation has come to an end, it is time for action and the German Mittelstand appears to be ready for the so-called Industry 4.0. In the recent past, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things have been labelled “marketing stunts” by many traditional midsize German companies and the arrival of the new economic era has been met with hesitation. Today it seems clear that the German Mittelstand has a strong interest in not lagging behind when it comes to adapting to new developments. “The time of paralyses due to excessive analyses is over, it was time to take action” said a senior manager of a well-known machine builder from southern Germany. It is also clear, however, that not every company will be able to build a new machine park in line with industry 4.0 standards from scratch. Production needs to remain profitable and digitalization has to create added value for clients. Therefore, multiple exhibitors have presented solutions with which older equipment and machines can be upgraded to industry 4.0 standards, for example with the help of sensors which monitor machinery in realtime and sound an alarm in case of irregularities. The exhibition of such solutions makes the buzzword industry 4.0 tangible and shows possibilities for practical applications for the German Mittelstand to adapt to new developments.
Intelligent Robots have been showcased by several exhibitors. Worth mentioning are the robots that have been exhibited by Festo. The so-called BionicCobot has the human arm as its role model and is thus capable to hold objects, lift them carefully, or to exercise pressure on objects – always depending on the specific need. A Robot exhibited and designed by technology giant Bosch has robot arms which have the ability to firmly grab round objects through integrated suction cups.
Another exhibited and trendsetting technology were glasses which assist to maintain machines from a distance. Images of defect machinery can be send in real-time to a service technician who in turn can inspect occurring errors in a detailed manner without having to travel to the site. Especially in situations where little technical expertise is needed to fix technical faults, the technology can help to significantly reduce downtime. An additional possible application of the technology is to use it for Predictive Maintenance, i.e. a technician interferes before the machine breaks down.