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Your guide to Hannover Messe 2017: What to see and do in the Industrial Internet of Things

It's easy to get lost in the maze of vendor displays and activity at Hannover Messe. If you're heading to the conference, here's an overview of the key conference themes related to the Industrial Internet of Things and the must see forums that can provide the best opportunities for learning about new products and use cases.

So you’re going to Germany for Hannover Messe 2017, one of the world’s longest running trade fairs for heavy industry. With more than 200,000 attendees and some 6,500 vendors expected at this year’s event, it’s also one of the largest. The April 24-28 event is so big that it has several conferences running inside and alongside it, including CeMAT, a trade show dedicated to logistics and supply chain technologies; the International MES Conference, dedicated to manufacturing execution systems; and WoMenPower, a career conference dedicated to success strategies and innovative work models for women in business.

Even old hands can get lost in the maze of vendor displays and activity. For newbies, it can be positively overwhelming. But Enterprise.nxt has your back! In this report, we brief you on some of the key conference themes related to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and steer you to the forums and halls that can provide the best opportunities for learning about new products and use cases.

Hannover Messe overview

Hannover Messe has been a fixture of European industry since the late 1940s. Long ago it spun off CeBIT (information technology), but the primary trade fair still has a gigantic breadth of offerings grouped into seven themes:

  •        Industrial automation
  •        Motion, drive, and automation (MDA)
  •        Digital factory
  •        Energy
  •        Compressed air and vacuum technology (ComVac)
  •        Industrial supply
  •        Research and technology

Vendors associated with specific line-ups are concentrated in certain areas of the exhibition space—for instance, companies that build products for integrated energy systems will generally be concentrated in the southwest section of the Hannover Exhibition Grounds, while many IT vendors will be grouped in the Digital Factory line-up on the east side of the exhibition space. There are also delegations and booth displays from specific countries, including this year’s official partner country, Poland.

Walking around the exhibition grounds, you will find that Hannover Messe is a very visual trade fair. We're not just talking about screens. Visitors will be exposed to all kinds of high-tech industrial displays, from concept cars to virtual reality. You will see turbines, assembly line machinery, hacking demonstrations, self-driving factory carts, and all manner of robots. Inevitably, a few vendors will rig their gear to perform tricks, like the automated coffee barista at last year’s Hannover Messe.

IIoT and Industrie 4.0

For attendees interested in IIoT, there will be much to see. The lead theme of this year’s fair is “integrated industry,” using digital technologies to tie together the disparate parts of a modern industrial company to boost efficiency and create value. The German government and many German companies use the term “Industrie 4.0” instead of IIoT, but the underlying technology concepts are essentially the same: leveraging digital networks to connect sensors, controllers, robots, conveyor belts, specialized production equipment, transportation resources, and logistics systems to inform and extend the capabilities of the enterprise.

Many vendors come to Hannover Messe to show off their latest IIoT-enabled systems. Last year, fair organizers say exhibitors showed more than 400 examples of Industrie 4.0, and the number is expected to top 500 this year.

In addition to viewing demonstrations of cutting-edge IIoT systems, Hannover Messe is a superb opportunity to observe IIoT use cases. There are nearly 1,500 speakers taking part in presentations, forums, panel discussions, and other events at Hannover Messe. This figure includes hundreds of people working in aerospace, chemical processing, manufacturing, plant engineering, R&D, and other sectors of heavy industry. They will share their experiences launching digitization projects and innovating with IIoT. Real-world use cases not only illustrate how IIoT is being used across a range of industries, but they can also provide a source of inspiration for engineers, product managers, strategists, and other executives looking to transform operations at their own firms and up and down supply chains. Some discussions will be in German, but organizers are providing live translation for the opening ceremony and other high-profile presentations, and many other sessions will be multilingual.   

Drilling down to IIoT at Hannover Messe

Examples of IIoT in action can be experienced at any of the seven line-ups listed above. However, there will be a stronger presence in two areas of the fair: Industrial Automation and Digital Factory.

For Industrial Automation, some 1,200 exhibitors will have nearly 8,000 products on display, mostly in the halls in the southeast quadrant of the Hannover Exhibition Grounds (halls 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17). As the line-up's name implies, the focus will be on factory and process automation as well as systems solutions and industrial IT. The Digital Factory lineup is smaller, with 350 exhibitors and 1,200 products, and is located in adjacent areas near the eastern entrance (halls 6, 7, and 8). The focus here is integrated processes and IT solutions, but there is a fair amount of overlap with Industrial Automation. Here are some of the highlights:

Hall 8: Forum Industrie 4.0 meets the Industrial Internet

There will be lots of presentations and demonstrations related to IIoT, including sessions on specific technologies and use cases (“Obtaining sensor data in practice”) up to general discussions of industry (“Digitizing European industry – challenges and perspectives”). Many of them will be in English or have live translations available. 

Hall 11: Marketplace for sensors, measuring technology, and automation

In addition to the displays and demonstrations of sensor technologies in Hall 11, there will be a number of lectures and discussions about sensors in the Forum Industrial Automation (Hall 14) and Forum Industrie 4.0 meets the Industrial Internet.

Hall 14: Forum Industrial Automation

There will be nearly 100 speakers covering topics such process automation, cloud computing, predictive maintenance, industrial supply, security, and cobots (collaborative robots). Note that most of the presentations are in German. 

Hall 17: Application Park Robotics, Automation & Vision

This is the place to see not only robots in action, but also demonstrations of industrial image processing.

Pavilion P32: CeMAT Forum: Logistics 4.0 meets Industrie 4.0

Located in a pavilion next to Hall 12, this forum covers IIoT-enabled supply chains, warehouse management, mobile robots, and other logistics topics. Live translations are provided for all of the scheduled presentations. 

Other IIoT themes to watch for at Hannover Messe

IIoT interoperability

Standards present both obstacles and opportunities for the IIoT. Competing standards and proprietary technologies can slow adoption and innovation, encouraging customers to take a wait-and-see approach to IIoT—or forcing them to develop expensive workarounds to connect disparate components, processes, and systems. Conversely, well-established, widely adopted standards can ease integration and provide a platform for innovative products and custom solutions.

At Hannover Messe 2017, Industrie 4.0—Germany’s official vision of the digital-industrial future—and the U.S.-based Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) will continue to promote common ground. At one time there was a strong sense of national rivalry, with Germany’s strong industrial base determined to chart the digital future on its own terms rather than being dictated by digital powerhouses from other countries.

In recent years, there has been a shift. The IIC and Germany’s Industrie 4.0 Platform have begun to explore how their independently developed reference architectures might be better aligned to boost interoperability and reduce market confusion. At last year’s Hannover Messe, Forum Industrie 4.0 meets the Industrial Internet was one of the most popular events, attracting more than 8,000 visitors. This year, the forum will once again take place in Hall 8 with scores of presentations, demonstrations, and panel discussions. This meeting of the minds won’t instantly resolve differences in the two architectures, but the spirit of promoting cooperation and working out differences in technical architectures sets a positive example for resolving other interoperability issues in IIoT.

IIoT security

One of the big IIoT-related themes at Hannover Messe 2017 is security. IT professionals have long been aware of network-borne security threats to mission-critical business systems, but as IP networks extend to the factory floor and remote facilities, a new generation of security threats has risen to the fore. It will be on many attendees’ minds and highlighted in vendor offerings as well as presentations by researchers.

Within the Forum Industrial Automation (Hall 14), there are several presentations on security, but these will primarily be in German. At the Forum Industrie 4.0 meets the Industrial Internet (Hall 8), there will also be a number of presentations touching on security, many of them in English or with live translation provided.

At the IIC pavilion (Hall 8, Stand C24), there will be a joint demonstration of Industrial Internet security as well as the security claims evaluation testbed. The goal of the latter is to evaluate the security capabilities of endpoint, gateway, and server components using an easily configured cybersecurity platform. Any vendor (including companies that do not belong to the IIC) can connect equipment to be evaluated at the device level or as part of a system of endpoints, gateways, and other networking gear. 

IIoT security will also be the topic of presentations in the R&D area (Hall 2, booths C16 and C22) by researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology in Darmstadt, Germany. The approach involves big data and a self-learning system to identify security incidents in manufacturing environments. While the system has access to data from sensors, order information, and other types of data flows, it has no knowledge of the underlying architecture. After a period of self-learning, it can detect anomalies in data flows and other deviations from normal behavior that may indicate a breach, infection, or even defective or malfunctioning machinery. The system also monitors the integrity of factory machinery and other components.


Hannover Messe 2017

Location: Hannover Exhibition Grounds

Messegelände, D-30521 Hannover

GPS: Enter "Hermesallee"

Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Tickets: Low-priced ticket options can be purchased on site or online

Map: View online

Wi-Fi, tours, and other services: View online

See how HPE takes on the role of digital enabler at Hannover Messe

This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.