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Hannover Messe 2023 – three key trends

By William Adamthwaite

At 2023’s Hannover Messe there were three key trends that dominated conversations in the digital transformation space – wearables, additive manufacturing, and the debate between SaaS vs. on-prem solutions.

I mentioned in our review of this year’s Hannover Messe that there were some key trends dominating conversations in the digital transformation space – namely wearables, additive manufacturing, and SaaS vs. on-prem solutions. I thought these things deserved a blog of their own, where I could deep dive into what they are, why they’re being talked about, and what they mean for the future of the space. So without further ado…

Wearables

Health and safety in the manufacturing industry is paramount. And with the industry having the second highest number of fatal work-based injuries in 2021/2022, technology that can combat this is set to change the industry for the better.

Gone are the days of ‘wearables’ meaning simply hard hats or steel boots. Increasingly, wearable technology and ‘Smart PPE’ is revolutionising health and safety in the manufacturing industry. From exosuits, to tech that can detect hazardous gases in the air, to wear sensors that monitor the rate of wear in machinery, there are many devices coming to market that aim to reduce risk and accidents. These technologies are designed to bring together valuable real-time information, keeping people more connected to the plant floor whilst also keeping them safer.

But wearables aren’t just about health and safety, they can also increase productivity and efficiency. Voice-first and hands-free technologies will allow for more seamless workflows, and integrated smart watches can make information easily accessible to those on the shop floor, connecting workers and machines via technology.

Additive Manufacturing

This is all about supporting factories with their optimisation. Companies like Siemens, for example, now have factory lines where robots are performing all the key parts of the production process. One of the coolest developments in this area is 3D printed components, not only are they lighter in weight that components that have traditionally been used, but they also use significantly less energy and need replacing less regularly. Plus, they can be printed on-site and produced in less than 48 hours, making them incredibly efficient and reducing potential downtime.

This was one of the key things Hannover Messe attendees were talking about, particularly around the impact it could have on the manufacturing industry going forward.

SaaS vs. On-Prem Solutions

Different companies are taking different approaches here – with some opting for a subscription-type model and some opting for on-prem. Which implementation type companies go for really is all about preference but, interestingly, the choice between the two does appear to be influenced by geography. Businesses in the West are typically happier to have data stored in the cloud with the assurance (and hope!) of safety and security, whereas businesses in the East often prefer to own their own data and store it on site. Beyond the obvious cost, things that companies are typically considering when deciding on which type is best for them often revolve around number of users, how accessible and scalable the software needs to be, and if an on-prem implementation is possible from a resource perspective.

Increasingly on-prem solutions are being seen as outdated in comparison to SaaS subscription models, so it will be interesting to see how preferences continue to shift over the next few years.

Implementing the trends

Half of the battle is changing the mindset of traditional manufacturing environments when it comes to integrating new technologies. Communication and consultative open discussions are so important to help with the shift, particularly in conservative regions. Being open, taking a look at the successful case studies, and finding out how this could be applied at an enterprise level will help companies to pick the right businesses to partner with.

It was really interesting to hear all the different perspectives on these trends at Hannover Messe this year, and I’m interested to see how they continue to develop over the rest of the year. What do you think the biggest trends for the next year are going to be?

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