Solutions for future industrial challenges lies in networks

The theme of the 2015 Hannover Messe 2015 was 'Integrated Factory - Join the Network!', referring to the growing importance of networks in industry of the future. This evolution is part of Industry 4.0, the name under which the fourth industrial revolution is shaped. It is also one of the main challenges of the future.

Increasing levels of far-reaching digitization of the economy also affects industry: factories and energy systems must increasingly work in digital networks, production cycles are shorter and new business models are coming into existence. Solo operators are in danger of losing their connections. In future competitive forces will increasingly depend on the capacity of companies to expand their networks through involvement in production processes coming from different parties. This will result in products being developed and brought to market even faster.

Within this context, the actual challenges become an introduction to generally accepted standards for communications between machinery, data security and new business models. Networks should be able to offer solutions for these challenges. Collaboration is the way of completely unlocking all the opportunities, but a network of mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as ICT is also required for achieving this. Suppliers, manufacturers and customers must increasingly communicate and collaborate within networks in order to achieve optimal products and solutions.

In technology this is transformed into different types of developments: production lines linked to digital networks, innovative production methods, a new generation of industrial robots are making an entry and automation is supported by ICT. Specific examples found at the trade show included robots with advanced sensor systems, thereby allowing them to operate alongside their human colleagues without the need for safety precautions, IT based automation solutions that bring about fundamental changes to all the organised processes on the shop floor.