SPS IPC Drives 2016

Author photo: Ann-Kathrin Blech
ByAnn-Kathrin Blech
Industry Trends

The 28th annual SPS IPC Drives show in Nuremberg, Germany closed its gates last week with the expected high numbers of visitors and exhibitors.  The continued success of the show is due to its no nonsense approach, clear focus on discrete automation, and high quality of visitors.  The show remains the main autumn event for industrial suppliers, balancing the Hanover Industrial Fair in the spring. For many smaller automation suppliers, it has become the main trade show.

This year the fair organizers welcomed 1,601 exhibitors, a four percent drop from last year's 1,668.  Like last year, two-thirds of the exhibitors came from Germany and another third from outside Germany.  63,291 visitors came in total, just shy of last year's records count of 64,386; three quarter of those came from inside Germany and the remaining quarter from abroad.  The area occupied by the show dropped slightly to 122,200 m2 from last year's 122,800 m2. 

Industrie 4.0, IIoT, TSN, Gateways
Some automation suppliers have responded to the Industrie 4.0 trend by reflecting the influence of commercial IT.  Suppliers such as Beckhoff, B&R and Hilscher showed visions of the link between the plant floor and the Cloud, and offered practical solutions on how to achieve this.  Siemens presented advancements of MindSphere, their open cloud-based IoT platform for analytics and possibly much more in the future.  They plan to make MindSphere available on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.  At the show many supplier and associations have announced partnerships and cooperations with major IT providers.

OPC UA TSN is the newly proposed industrial automation standard supported by a group of leading suppliers and associations, including ABB, Bosch Rexroth, B&R, Cisco, General Electric, Kuka, National Instruments, Parker Hannifin, Schneider Electric, SEW Eurodrive and TTTech.  First solutions were presented early this year at the Hanover fair.  It is intended to provide open, deterministic, real-time communication for Industrie 4.0/IIoT-based production between controllers and controllers and the cloud. 

Addressing existing plants, many suppliers have introduced gateway devices to act as a patch between legacy automation systems and the cloud.  Gateways come in many varieties, but are typically compact industrial PCs that collect data from installed automation devices.  Most gateways simply transmit the data to higher-level devices or into the cloud for analysis, but some store and analyze data locally.  Suppliers and users may add additional application-specific functionality.

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