Industrie 4.0 and HANNOVER MESSE are closely intertwined. More than ten years ago, the term “Industrie 4.0” celebrated its premiere at the Hannover-based tradeshow. Since then, the topic has developed and evolved. But what’s next? Visitors to the show can find out – in Hannover, from 17 to 21 April.

Hannover, Germany. Industrie 4.0 is an umbrella brand grouping together sensor manufacturers, automation companies, robotics builders, software producers and users. The term gave rise to a new enthusiasm for automation and thus also for the digitization of industrial processes – inspiring many young people to sign on at industrial enterprises as a result.

The promises were great. But what about the goals – has everything been achieved? Definitely not. Criticism of the term “Industrie 4.0” also comes from the fact that it was highly politically charged and that at the beginning, every component was to be made “intelligent” while often failing to pay off, and that productivity failed to skyrocket.

In the early years, people tried to emulate Silicon Valley corporations. The fever of digitization was contagious. In the meantime, people are considering their own strengths and, of all things, the tech corporations have increasingly sought contact with German SMEs and Industrie 4.0. Companies are reaping the initial benefits of those years and will be showcasing this at HANNOVER MESSE.

The “administration shell” was, and is, a showcase project, providing a standardized description of components that many exhibitors at HANNOVER MESSE are now building on in order to offer their customers added value. The administration shell is closely linked to the topic of the “digital twin”. On the first day of the show, industry representatives will discuss the “standardized digital twin for a sustainable industry”. This digital twin is also a crucial element for Lenze on its NUPANO platform, as machine and plant builders want to tap into new sources of revenue. The pressure on them is growing, because they need to differentiate themselves through additional digital offerings. However, they often lack the appropriate resources and the necessary expertise to get the job done. Lenze’s NUPANO Open Automation Platform is designed to help, offering a space for digital innovations at machine and plant level and creating access to new business models – without any prior IT (information technology) knowledge required on the part of the user. In doing so, this exhibitor from the German state of Lower Saxony is relying upon open, proven IT architectures and technologies to build a bridge from operational technology (OT) to the IT universe.

HANNOVER MESSE is the perfect showcase for Industrie 4.0. It’s still all about connected machines, sensors, data, information and new business models, but also about a new way of thinking in industry: Companies need to be present on platforms and need to develop and operate their own platforms. Automation companies need to collaborate with customers, but also need to think in open source (ROS2 in robotics), develop products jointly, involve young companies and new industries such as the gaming industry (gaming engines in robotics), learn from one another, work together in new constellations (“coopetition”) and earn money with other business cases (subscription). This is not always easy, and Industrie 4.0 thus also becomes a cultural and educational issue.

Festo Didactic, for example, offers comprehensive training and qualification programs for Industrie 4.0 with its CP Factory – the universal Industrie 4.0 research and learning platform. Festo CTO Ansgar Kriwet recently emphasized at an internal event that digitization is a major learning topic. At the same time, he gave a preview of future products. Put simply: The company will be offering a multipurpose hardware as a software-defined product packed with AI.

Kunbus proves that open source and industry can go together with its hardware based on a Raspberry Pi. The S and SE series represent a further development of the Revolution Pi’s basic modules RevPi Core, RevPi Connect and RevPi Flat. Equipped with the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 S, the modules now feature the powerful 4-core Broadcom BCM2711 Arm Cortex-A72 processor.

But what’s next? Some people are already talking about Industry 5.0, but the SmartFactory from Kaiserslautern, Germany, certainly has a realistic view of tomorrow’s manufacturing. With their Production Level 4 demonstrator landscape, the makers appear to be a step ahead of the ManufacturingX initiative. Many ManufacturingX ideas have already been implemented in the SmartFactory-KL, as this Rhineland-Palatinate-based company confidently announced in the run-up to the tradeshow. In Hannover, everyone learns from each other. “Coopetition” is just what the doctor ordered.

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