Mike Bacidore is the editor in chief for Control Design magazine. He is an award-winning columnist, earning a Gold Regional Award and a Silver National Award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. Email him at [email protected].
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the office, here comes winter. Yes, His Royal Frostiness will soon be shutting down cities and closing schools with plummeting temperatures and a blanket of white slipperiness. But the upside is that spring is not far behind.
April may seem months away right now, but, rest assured, it will soon be here, which is why now is the time to plan for it. If you’re thinking of attending or exhibiting at Hannover Messe, which annually hosts more than 200,000 visitors from more than 100 countries, there’s never been a better time to make arrangements. It will be held April 25-29, 2016, and the United States has been selected as Partner Country for the event.
Larry Turner, president and CEO of Hannover Fairs USA, made the announcement in Chicago at UI Labs’ Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), where new technologies are developed affordably for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a 94,000-sq-ft facility that provides a testbed for more than 130 DMDII partners.
Commerce Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Antwaun Griffin spoke about U.S. manufacturing’s future during the announcement of the United States as Hannover Messe 2016 Partner Country at UI Labs’ Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute in Chicago.
“It's not every day I get to see innovative spaces like this,” said Antwaun Griffin, deputy assistant secretary for U.S. operations in the U.S. Commerce Department International Trade Administration. “The Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 are catch phrases, but it's nice to get out and see it in action. The U.S. manufacturing sector is the ninth largest economy in the world, and it comprises 12% of U.S. GDP. Increasing U.S. global competitiveness is tied to helping our small and medium-sized companies to sell their products or services overseas, outside of our borders.”
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India made a big impact on forging its manufacturing future as this past year’s Hannover Messe Partner Country. More than 400 Indian companies participated in the industrial technology event. Foreign direct investment grew 27% in the first quarter of the year. Foxconn said it will spend $5 billion for as many as 12 new factories in India by 2020. Ford Motor opened a 460-acre integrated manufacturing plant in Gujarat. Bosch, General Electric, Panasonic and Tejas each committed to invest in manufacturing clusters in India. And other companies are moving production in-country to better reach India’s 1.25 billion consumers. World Bank projects India will have the world’s fastest-growing major economy from 2015 to 2017 with average GDP growth of 7.4%.
“Manufacturing matters again,” explained Dr. Helmuth Ludwig, executive vice president, digital enterprise realization & chief manufacturing officer, Siemens PLM Software. “It was not always like that,” he explained. “How do we integrate technology when we design products? Manufacturers are pretty challenged. In the automotive industry, they have 3-4 years to design a car. There's a mindset change. Siemens is a provider of technology at DMDII, but we are a manufacturer ourselves. The key question for many manufacturers is: What is your digital strategy? It's no longer about the screwdriver. Now, it's the iPad.”
ABB also believes in the renaissance of manufacturing in the United States, said Dr. Greg Scheu, president of the Americas region at the Swiss technology giant. “How do we take the next steps and help the world to use that technology?” he asked. “If you look at industrial use of energy, about 40% of it comes with motors and drives turning something.”
Kevin Cosgriff, president and CEO of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), which represents nearly 400 companies, explained that his organization’s principal focus for advocacy is the U.S. government. “How can we improve the representation at Hannover from the electrical industry?” he asked. “It’s a competitive, globalized world, and we need to step up to it. Nearly half of U.S. exports are from manufacturing. It’s a productivity powerhouse. Some 27 million jobs are directly or otherwise tied to manufacturing in the United States. How are we doing as a nation in preparing the next generation of workers? Innovation is critical to success. Development time is compressed. Bringing a new product to market in the lighting industry, for example, is now measured in months.”
Hannover Messe Partner Country status supports the strategy of keeping the United States competitive on a global stage and boosts the manufacturing revival, said Marc Siemering, senior vice president of Hannover Messe. “The world's largest economy will take center stage at the world's largest technology event,” he explained. “Manufacturers learn how to stay competitive. Hannover Messe 2016 covers energy, automation, networking, development and component sourcing, and it's a global hotspot for Industry 4.0. These are solutions that will fundamentally change manufacturing processes. President Obama is invited to join German Chancellor Angela Merkel to open the fair on April 24.”
If he plans to attend, now is the time to reserve his seat on Air Force One and book a room before they’re all gone.