Hannover Fair

The annual science fair at Hannover is a kind of a show of things to touch and of those things that come to the public market in the near future. Most of the annual hype is about potentials of production. Rationalization, using few resources or innovative solutions of digitization are high on the agenda. Create your digital twin, save energy, make production more safe or cyber secured.
Robotics is another reason to visit the fair. Some 7 years ago I had my Sputnik experience there. The robotics company KUKA had demonstrated live the that assembling a car from pre-manufactured components takes just 10 minutes for the robots. Shortly afterwards the whole company was bought by Chinese investors. Roughly 5 years later we are swamped by cars from China. It was not that difficult to predict this at that time. Okay, we need to focus on more value added production and take our workforces (not only) in Europe along on the way. Reclaiming well-paid, unionized jobs in manufacturing, as Joe Biden does, will not be an easy task. Robots and their programming is expensive, but skilled workers, too. Hence, the solution is likely to be robot-assisted manufacturing as a kind of hybrid solution for cost-effective production systems.
Following the proceedings of the 2024 fair we are astonished to realize that visiting the fair is still a rather “physical exercise” walking through the halls. After the Covid-19 shock we expected a lot more “online content”. Instead we keep referring to webpages and newletters rather than virtual visits and tours. The preparation of the visit in advance remains a laborious adventure. However, the in-person networking activities in the industry are largely advanced by ease of exchanging virtual business cards and the “FEMWORX” activities.
This year’s Sputnik moment at Hannover is probably most likely related to the pervasive applications of AI across all areas of the industry and along the whole supply chain. Repairing and recycling have become mainstream activities (www.festo.com). Robotics for learning purposes can also be found to get you started with automating boring household tasks (www.igus.eu).
Visiting Hannover in person still involves lengthy road travel or expensive public transport (DB with ICE). Autonomous driving and ride sharing solutions might be a worthwhile topic for next year’s fair. Last year I thought we would meet in the “metaverse fair” rather than in Hannover 2024. Be prepared for another Sputnik moment next year, maybe.
(Image: Consumer’s Rest by Stiletto, Frank Schreiner, 1983)