This year, the Messe is being held concurrently with CeMAT 2018, a reputed logistics, packaging and supply chain event, and therefore, this joint congregation is expected to draw an even larger level of attention.
Hannover Messe is undoubtedly the flagship trade fair in the world on industrial products, held every year in April, in the trade fair city of Hannover in Germany. In fact, this fair is as important to Industrial Products, as Olympics are to Sports ! Like in previous years, this year too, the Deutsche Messe Team organised a preview of the fair on 6th February, to showcase a few selected exhibitors and exhibits, the ones which might hog the limelight in the fair proper. Domain-specialist journalists from all over the world participated in this event. The obvious objective of such a preview is to gain global traction for the forthcoming fair itself, by highlighting the items that might be of special interest to the potential visitors.
This year, the Messe is being held concurrently with CeMAT 2018, a reputed logistics, packaging and supply chain event, and therefore, this joint congregation is expected to draw an even larger level of attention. Almost forgot to mention that this year Mexico is the partner country for the exhibition. So, while walls may be coming up on their US border, doors are opening up for Mexico, in Europe, evidenced by the fact that number of Mexican exhibitors has gone up from a mere 5 in the past, to more than 150 in this edition of the fair. Primarily, Mexico's presentations will be expected to promote investments into that country.
A few words regarding CeMAT (being held concurrently) will be in order. CeMAT as an event, represents the function of intralogistics and supply-chain management. While the flagship CeMAT Fair is held in Hannover, there are seven sister events held worldwide throughout the year according to a calendar. What to expect in a CeMAT exhibition? A CeMAT show covers every area of logistics. Its scope includes energy saving fork lifts and industrial trucks, fully automated handling systems, hoists and working platforms, ingenious racks and warehousing systems, the latest in control systems, logistics IT, and everything else that falls in between. Other key highlights may include cranes and lifting equipment, access platforms, auto ID systems, robotic logistic solutions and packaging technologies.
This year, there were in all 38 exhibits in the preview, and at least a good four or five of them showcased logistics related products or services. The presentations by Toyota and SAP come to mind in the logistics space. Latest offerings to optimise supply chains will be of great interest to Indian visitors to the fair, since our country is currently going through a period of transformation in logistics, what with implementation of GST, blooming of e commerce and e tailing activities and gradual improvement of infrastructure. 'Factories of the Future', famously ascribed the strategic name of Industrie 4.0 in earlier editions of Hannover Fairs, need Logistics 4.0 in order to be successful, and it is only expected that concurrent holding of CeMAT will provide invaluable inputs to supply-chain practitioners. For example, concepts like 'Autonomous Fork Lift Trucks' hold the promise of revolutionising warehouse mechanics for good. Cement industry being highly logistics-intensive, the industry players may get an idea or two from this two-in-one fair, particularly from CeMAT, which focuses on automation in packaging and logistics.
This need of collaboration between manufacturing and logistics is truly reflected in this year's lead theme, which is Connect and Collaborate, and I found this expression beautiful, in the sense that this could also be hinting at collaboration between the machine and the man, people and robots, besides talking about the synergy between 'state of the art' manufacturing and 'state of the art' packaging/logistics. It will be very very interesting to discover, how this theme expresses itself in the full version of the fair including CeMAT, in April.
Now, talking about some specific items on display, I was as usual, impressed by the functional innovation of Ziehl û Abegg, who showcased the 'ZAcube Modular Fan System for efficient retrofitting of ventilation installations. We can get an idea of the equipment from the accompanying photograph. As design parameters and thermal loads for airconditioning and ventilation systems may change over time, this solution eliminates the need for total change of fans and drives, by introducing modular concept of fans.
Also have a look at the manual pallet lift truck ( photograph here ) which, the manufacturers (Clark Europe GmbH) claim to be the first ever Lithium-Ion Battery operated device for storage/handling solutions, which has the potential to reduce the recharge frequencies.
There was a highly captivating demonstration of the possibility of autonomous and automated robotic technology for warehouse material handling, which straightaway belong to realm of the future, the 'Factories of the Future'. This was a demo product of a start up company from Munich, Germany, called Magazino, and this seems to hold immense possibilities for the future.
Lastly, one can learn from the interesting exhibit of Toyota Material Handling whereby Toyota brings out the essence of their famed Toyota Production System (TPS) and how the same thinking can be applied achieve maximum efficiency in logistics operations.
On the whole, my takeaway from the preview was rather down to earth, and not euphoric. There was no great new startling innovation in terms of any new products or processes seen on display. However, I must hasten to add, that outstanding efforts were visible in innovative applications, optimisation and integration of known hardware and/or software possibilities, all of which can potentially help deliver much more than just incremental improvements in factories and supply chains. I must submit in conclusion, that in these exhibits that were on show, the innovation lies in thinking, conceptualising and then implementing wonderfully integrative manufacturing strategies deploying a combination of already available cutting edge technologies.