What’s New at the Hanover Fair?  Part 2: Supplier Trends

By Constanze Schmitz

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ARC Report Abstract

Hanover Fair Hanover%20Fair%202019.jpgOverview

As we mentioned in part one of this two-part ARC Insight, the 2019 Hanover Fair once again lived up to its reputation as THE event to attend to see where our industry is heading.  No other event or conference offers the same combination of presence of industry players and access to C-level executives.  Here, in part two of our report, we look at what suppliers large and small showcased at this year’s fair and what the industry consortia reported.

Large Suppliers Embracing End-to-End Digitalization

Large suppliers don’t always invent all the technology, but they do tend to set the trends for the factory and process automation industry. This year’s common thread was a continuation of the digitalization trends started in 2016.  Siemens summed it up nicely with its motto, “Thinking industry further!”

Siemens

Siemens once again hosted the largest display of products and solutions at Hanover.  The design of this year's booth reflects the technology trends of the past few years. The openness of the booth was intended to suggest "no limits"  and the MindSphere lounge upstairs suggested solutions "in the cloud." As in previous years, Siemens selected several industries to showcase its Digital Enterprise Suites.  These carry the digitalization theme to a specific application level built around working applications running on customers’ machines.

The company’s top announcement at Hanover was the launch of its new web-based process control system. SIMATIC PCS neo, the company’s new system software, offers a variety of features to help bring process engineering into the age of digitalization. These features include support for global web-based collaboration in engineering and operations and intuitive handling.  According to Siemens, these consolidate all relevant information in a single workbench.  The Simatic PCS neo system software uses the hardware portfolio and application architecture of the Siemens’ process control SIMATIC PCS 7 process control system (version 9.0).  This helps protect customers’ investment and know-how, while providing the new system’s features and advantages.

ABB

ABB announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ericsson. The goal of the MoU is to enhance their joint vision for the future of flexible production with advanced automation and wireless communication. Intelligent automation systems deployed at Ericsson’s manufacturing facilities in Tallinn, Estonia already use fully automated flexible robotics cell solutions from ABB.

ABB also announced a major upgrade of the ABB Ability System 800xA and extended the ABB Ability portfolio with smart sensors for condition monitoring of bearings and a “Digital Powertrain” remote monitoring and support capability for efficient, safe, and reliable operations.  Another introduction was the NiTemp non-invasive temperature sensor, which offers a simple and safe way to measure process temperature without having to disrupt the process, drill holes in pipes, or install a thermowell. The device features a double-sensor architecture and special calculation algorithm. According to ABB, it can enhance safety and reduce installation costs while maintaining measurement quality.

Schneider Electric

Contactors and motor starters, collectively known as “low voltage control gear,” are not normally considered to be strategic edge devices, but Schneider Electric elevated them to this level with the introduction of “TeSys Island.” This new series of components for controlling and protecting electric motors turn these classic building blocks into IoT-enabled modular devices that not only perform their intended function, but also act like blocks of IO by making their data freely available to other devices. TeSys Island eliminates the need to wire these devices to IO modules by embedding IO capability into a new, modular form factor. Fewer components, less cabinet space, reduced engineering, and simplified maintenance should all help reduce costs.

Rockwell Automation

Rockwell Automation hasn’t exhibited at the fair for many years, but that doesn’t mean the company isn’t present in Hanover.  In lieu of its own booth, Rockwell Automation typically exhibits with partners. This year, these included Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and PTC. At the Cisco booth, the two companies showed how industrial networking is growing in sophistication as factory networks are integrated with enterprise networks.  One display showed how certificate-verification can help thwart a man-in-the-middle attack in which hackers try to replace the contents of data packages with their own illicit instructions.  At the PTC booth, Rockwell demonstrated the integration of its FactoryTalk solutions with PTC’s ThingWorx Industrial IoT Platform to simplify the development of robust industrial IoT applications.

What the More Specialized Automation Suppliers Are Up To

Beckhoff

Beckhoff reported 13 percent revenue growth for 2018 and expects to reach sales of €1 billion  in the next two years. The company showed product innovations in machine learning, drive technology, and industrial PCs.

The technological highlight on the booth was the XPlanar eXtended motor system.  This consists of planar tiles and “free-floating movers” carrying up to 6 kg (more in combinations) using electromagnetic forces. The system offers flexible layout, architecture, and positioning, which makes it suitable for vacuums and clean rooms.  With a special surface finishing, it is also suited for a hygienic environment, such as often required by the pharma, food & beverage, or semiconductor industries.  

Endress+Hauser

To demonstrate its out-of-the-box thinking, Endress+Hauser (E+H) showed its Netilion Smart System for Aquaculture, an intelligent measuring system for monitoring the water in aquacultures and fish farms.  It consists of a single package containing the measuring equipment and the Smart Systems App for smartphones. Further applications are expected.

Netilion is E+H’s cloud-based IIoT ecosystem for the intelligent utilization of data and information from the field level. The ecosystem streamlines and comprises all the company’s IIoT-related portfolio and services: Netilion Analytics, Netilion Health, smart systems, and the Netilion library.

Phoenix Contact

Originally known for its wide range of terminal blocks and connectors, Phoenix Contact has long since expanded its portfolio to include a wide range of products and solutions for industrial infrastructure for both factory and process automation. An active member of The Open Group, the organization managing the Open Process Automation Forum, Phoenix Contact also develops connectivity solutions and interfaces for process automation systems.  These will include support for the coming “advanced physical layer” (APL) technology.  APL will enable wired IP field device connectivity over twisted shielded pair in explosive and other hazardous environments.  Phoenix Contact also offers a plethora of wireless connectivity and infrastructure products.  In 2016, the company introduced “ProfiCloud,” a cloud-computing platform designed to provide secure communications and control for machines and systems in different locations.

This year, Phoenix Contact highlighted its new PLCnext Control, an open PLC platform delivered with an SDK that allows the user to develop control programs in the language of his/her choice, such as IEC 61131-3, C/C++, MATLAB, or high-level languages.  To support PLCnext developers, Phoenix Contact has opened the PLCnext Store, an app store for both free and pay-for-use apps written for the PLCnext platform.

Omron

Omron presented intelligent, integrated, and interactive factory automation systems, including smart robots and artificial intelligence solutions. At its booth, visitors could follow an entire production process from order entry to assembly, inspection, and delivery in a flexible manufacturing line demonstration.  The upgraded AI-equipped Forpheus tutor robot invited visitors to a game of table tennis.  Furthermore, Omron presented a robotic bin picking solution that combines a collaborative robot, mobile robot, and 3D vision as well as an AI machine controller solution.

The Digital Factory: Software and Communications

IBM

IBM presented a broad portfolio of industry solutions aimed at helping scale and implement industrial intelligence. For example, supply chain solutions predict disruptions and use blockchain for secure transactions. Overall equipment efficiency (OEE) is improved by minimizing downtime while maximizing throughput using AI for maintenance and analytics.

Micosoft

Microsoft presented itself and partners on a large booth in the Digital Factory hall. The company considers partners to be an important part of a complex industrial IoT ecosystem (more than 90 percent of revenue comes through them). Major IIoT providers including ABB, Accenture/Avanade, COPA-DATA, EY, GE, ICONICS, Kapsch, OSIsoft, PTC, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, and Siemens are joining forces with Microsoft to integrate and offer manufacturing services and solutions.  The goal is to advance technologies like AI, mixed reality, and automation to drive Industry 4.0 and make “intelligent manufacturing” a reality.

Microsoft announced several improvements to the Azure public cloud. Azure now offers end-to-end security for IoT for devices, hubs, and cloud resources. The company offers advanced threat protection for IoT for three key services: Azure Security Center for IoT, Azure Sentinel, and Azure IoT Hub, which now integrates with Azure Security Center for IoT.  Furthermore, Microsoft introduced OPC Twin and OPC Vault for Azure. These provide manufacturers with a digital twin of OPC UA-enabled machines and enhances security and certification management.

Deutsche Telekom/T-Systems

Under the motto, "Let’s Power Higher Performance," Deutsche Telekom and T-Systems showed a vision of how companies can digitize intelligently.  The booth was organized to present customers with solutions for the crucial phases of value creation: planning, production, and logistics. 

An example of "industrial intelligence" was the digital label for tracking goods that can store around 1,000 documents. The display also includes a GPS receiver and various sensors. Based on geographical data, the device displays appropriate documents.

The two companies presented the potential application of 5G mobile communications for a factory site using the example of the Osram campus network, which combines private and public mobile communications networks.  This allows several thousand devices to be controlled in real time.  Osram still does this using the LTE mobile communications standard; but soon it will be 5G.

Kaspersky Lab

At the Kaspersky Lab booth in the Industrial Security hall, the company gave demos and talks about the Kaspersky Industrial Cybersecurity solution that works in conjunction with the new Machine Learning Anomaly Detection product.  A highlight was a joint Kaspersky Lab and APROTECH project that resulted in an industrial gateway with secure-by-design architecture and Vulnerability Monitor MindApp.  It is designed to enable cyber vulnerabilities to be visualized in real time at large IoT infrastructures.  PcVue showed how a SCADA/HMI solution can be hardened with Kaspersky Secure Hypervisor.

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Keywords: Hanover Fair, Hannover Messe, Industrial IoT, Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, ARC Advisory Group.

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