There’s always so much to see at the Hannover Messe, and this year is no exception to that rule. Some of the highlights:
Parker unveils new “Voice of the Machine” platform
Parker Hannifin Corp. unveiled its Voice of the Machine IoT platform today. This is an open, interoperable and scalable ecosystem of connected products and services. As part of a broader digital transformation underway, Parker—currently celebrating its 100th year—is leveraging its product and application expertise to build better digital customer experiences.
“From online platforms that enable users to engage with our broad portfolio of products, systems and engineering talent; to global monitoring and asset integrity management services that keep critical systems productive, we are creating better outcomes for our customers,” said Bob Bond, VP-eBusiness, IoT and Services. “Our Voice of the Machine offering operates at the sweet spot of our core competency at the component and system level. Parker is creating discrete insights across our broad range of motion and control products that we can then connect to enterprise IoT solutions.”
The company says it is addressing challenges that have prevented operators from fully leveraging IoT to improve safety and prevent unplanned downtime and high maintenance costs. These include legacy devices that are not IoT-enabled, an absence of component-level insights, and competing communication protocols used by various suppliers.
“Through the Voice of the Machine IoT platform we enable our customers to hear what their assets are saying at a component level so they can improve application performance,” said Miguel Morales, Director, Internet of Things. To learn more about Voice of the Machine, visit www.parker.com/IoT or follow @Parker_VOM on Twitter.
Cobots highlight artificial intelligence
Turning conventional factories into smart factories calls for a mix of innovative automation technology, cobots and AI. Collaborative robots—or cobots—are easy to program. Some models can even perform tasks and solve problems autonomously and pass on what they’ve learned to their robot co-workers. Deutsche Messe Managing Board member Dr. Jochen Köckler explained, “These robots can learn from one another, but it’s still humans telling them what to do. In other words, they are universally deployable intelligent tools designed for use by factory workers.”
As time goes on, collaborative robots will become increasingly attuned to and “in sync” with their human co-workers. This year’s Hannover Messe features robot systems that are capable of interpreting human behavior. Applied to industrial production contexts, this means that robots will learn to work at the same rate and speak the same language as humans—rather than the other way around—and thus be better able to support them in their work.
Dawn of the “all-knowing” factory?
Digitalized production processes generate vast quantities of data that may hold clues to the causes of malfunctions and work stoppages. Someday soon, manufacturing systems will incorporate machine-learning technologies that analyze this data centrally and feed the results back to the production machines in question, thereby enabling them to learn and self-optimize. As such, machine learning is fundamental to predictive maintenance.
Some factories already leverage the power of supercomputers for fault diagnostics. Service personnel contact the computer via smartphone and describe the problem. Using photographs, the computer system detects the type of machine in question, analyzes the fault and suggests a fix. This application scenario has been used to develop a free app being presented at Hannover. With the app, factory owners will soon be able to leverage the power of artificial intelligence for their machinery fleet without having to do any programming or install any additional hardware or software. The entire app logic, including all necessary functions, runs in the Cloud. Using a simple graphical user interface, the user teaches the supercomputer how to use the machine in question by uploading manuals, photos and graphics.
Ingersoll Rand, at Stand C12 in Hall 26, revealed breakthrough compressed air technologies that it says will advance energy efficiency and performance of manufacturing operations for industries worldwide. The company’s CARE Suite service offerings are said to be the most comprehensive service and maintenance offering available—which increases reliability and reduces total costs of ownership for a plant’s valuable compressor assets.
“Industries are looking for ways to increase reliability and reduce energy use, as pressure mounts on regulatory compliance, cost-efficiency and meeting customer demands. High-quality reliable air and gas compression is the invisible power that helps these industries increase their profitability and competitiveness,” said Eric Seidel, VP of product management for compression technologies and services at Ingersoll Rand. “Compressed air equipment can last for decades and our service suite of offerings is suited to help customers improve uptime and reach their reliability and energy use goals, year-after-year.”
Ingersoll Rand also revealed its Next Generation R-Series RS200 to RS250 oil-flooded rotary screw compressors. This compressor features an all-new, state-of-the-art airend that the company said is one of the most efficient available today—delivering as much as 15% energy efficiency improvement over the legacy products. The RS200 to RS250 fixed- and variable-speed models come standard with features that offer customers new levels of energy efficiency and maximize uptime for high-capacity compressed air needs.
Energy transition issues
Digitalization is transforming the energy industry. Without it, it won’t be possible to make the switch from today’s centralized power plants to modern, highly efficient energy systems that are based on renewables and distributed generation structures. Here at Hannover Messe, many leading technology companies and research institutions are highlighting changes the energy industry will undergo—as well as individual technologies playing a role in this transformation.
“The Kopernikus projects initiated by the Ministry of Education and Research are Germany’s biggest-ever research initiative on the energy transition. The initial findings of these projects are being presented at Hannover Messe. The primary focus of the projects is on expanding and restructuring our country’s energy grids and on developing solutions for storing surplus energy from renewables by converting it into other energy carriers,” said Köckler.
VR glasses and exoskeletons, oh my!
Industry 4.0 technologies will make factory workers’ duties more interesting and varied. Instead of focusing on repetitive manual tasks, factory employees be called on to solve problems, make decisions and innovate. In tomorrow’s agile, flexible factories, employees will be experts in the use of virtual reality, augmented reality, smart glasses and tablets. All of these exiting new digital factory tools feature prominently here.
But even with the best of Industry 4.0 technology, tablets and smartphones, working in production can still be physically very demanding. Here, exoskeleton technology can help. Exoskeletons are wearable support and weight-bearing devices that adjust hydraulically to the wearer’s height, build and desired body posture. In industry, they will help make factory work less physically demanding, such as by reducing the strain of lifting heavy objects. One such exoskeleton, the Chairless Chair by Noonee, has been nominated for the 2017 Hermes Award.