Hannover Messe 2017: the tech transforming manufacturing

Hannover Messe 2017: the tech transforming manufacturing

Microsoft’s Toni Townes-Whitley outlines the innovations being showcased at Hannover Messe

Caspar Herzberg |

Today at Hannover Messe 2017, the world’s biggest industrial fair, we’re proud to showcase, alongside our customers and partners, new innovations and results that are transforming the way manufacturing customers approach their work, reduce costs and increase revenues.

Customers are living Industry 4.0 and seeing impact today

By IDC’s estimates, manufacturing companies that take advantage of their data have the potential to generate nearly US$400 billion in revenue in comparison to their peers who don’t capitalise on their data. It’s creating a virtuous cycle with savings being reinvested on innovation. However, while leading manufacturers are reaping the results disrupting technologies bring, the gap is widening between those who have started down this path and those who have not. My advice is simple: if a business hasn’t developed a digital strategy, start now so your business can lead the transformation and maintain or gain a competitive advantage.

Customers and partners, who are with us at Hannover Messe, will be sharing their results and showcasing innovations that are having real impact, not just proof of concepts. For example, technology has empowered Ecolab and its water management division Nalco Water to provide added value to its customers. Nalco Water helps customers reduce, reuse and recycle up to 100 percent of their water while protecting systems and equipment. Together our technologies have saved the San Antonio Water System more than US$140,000 in water costs per year, totalling more than US$1.2 million over nine years. They’re also saving 58.3 million gallons of potable water per year.

By connecting its food and beverage packaging to the Microsoft Azure cloud, Tetra Pak, a world leader in food and beverage processing and packaging, is taking its Conditioning Monitoring to the next level. Tetra Pak started a six-month trial in early 2016, supporting 11 customer lines with the new service. Results show that during this period, down-time was eliminated by up to 48 hours for each packaging line saving up to €30,000 for customers.

Leading commercial vehicle manufacturer Daimler is consistently working on innovative cloud-based solutions to increase its customers’ efficiencies and create future services. In contrast to a server-based infrastructure which is still commonplace, cloud solutions offer permanent availability, higher levels of flexibility and economic efficiency. In the future, Daimler FleetBoard GmbH and Mercedes-Benz Vans will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to support the infrastructure for new digital products relating to commercial vehicles. Another great example of an industry leader in truck manufacturing, is Daimler Trucks North America. They’ve collaborated with Microsoft to establish a new cloud-based back office for all Detroit Connect services using Microsoft’s cloud to help process immense amounts of data across connected vehicles worldwide.

Human insight plus machine intelligence

Over the past several years, partners like OSIsoft and Rockwell Automation and customers have re-imagined their approach to manufacturing and are already seeing benefits from the complementary strengths of humans and machines. In fact, 75% of organisations believe their future success depends on collaboration between human and machine intelligence, according to a study from Harvard Business Review.

With mixed reality, Microsoft is redefining what a digital twin is in manufacturing, the ability to blend physical and digital into 3D. Using HoloLens, factory technicians have an entirely new way to visualise a piece of machinery, and solve complex tasks that were previously impractical or even impossible, not to mention saving them costs and downtime in their factories or plants.

For example, thyssenkrupp’s mission in providing mobility solutions is to help people overcome physical limitations. Prior to using HoloLens, thyssenkrupp had used the same process for almost 20 years, which involved multiple customer visits, a complex system of labels and cameras and manual data entry to ensure highly customised mobility solutions were measured precisely. Now, the salesperson is able to measure the staircase using the mobile HoloLens solution during their first visit. The measurement data is automatically shared with the manufacturing team via Microsoft Azure, which allows for quicker decision making and near real-time approval of the design without redundant data entry. The digitisation of the sales and manufacturing processes has reduced delivery times as much as four times.

Global electronics manufacturing services leader, Jabil, and its consulting arm, Radius Innovation & Development, will demonstrate the potential of Windows 10 devices for product innovation and development. The interactive demo at Hannover will show how the future of IoT-enabled product design is already improving the healthcare industry by giving providers a better way to design infusion devices, which doctors rely on to administer dosages of vital fluids like nutrients and medications to patients. Using design software on Microsoft Surface Studio and the visualisation capabilities of Microsoft HoloLens, the companies are armed with tools that improve collaboration and innovation in the manufacturing process. Holograms and 3D capabilities allow for product manipulation and accelerate group collaboration and design refinement prior to a product’s introduction on the factory floor.

When people and robots collaborate, they can operate more safely and efficiently, particularly in repetitive or challenging environments. For instance, Comau is working with Microsoft and ICONICS to bring an innovative digital solution to manufacturing plants in order to improve production processes and efficiencies, using Microsoft HoloLens and ICONICS Holographic Machine Interface to remotely control a Comau Racer3 robot that assembles small components in a variety of manufacturing environments. It is also using HoloLens to remotely monitor factory machines, giving manufacturers a new way to interact with data on the factory floor via natural gestures and hands-free operation.

With more than eight million people injured or killed on the job each year in the US, there’s a demand for technology to help us accomplish tasks that are too dangerous or difficult for humans. Sarcos Robotics is collaborating with Microsoft to offer customers a “robot-as-a-service” to improve the safety and efficiency of many industrial tasks. The company’s Sarcos Guardian S can be tele-operated from miles away as it crawls through narrow culverts, pipes and storage tanks or traverses other difficult terrain. Equipped with a full suite of sensors, it uses Microsoft Azure Machine Learning and Windows 10 IoT technology to decipher patterns and detect anomalies over time. Imagine possibilities in disaster scenarios and how robots can help save lives and make rescue operations much safer.

Meanwhile, Deschutes Brewery with OSIsoft are turning to AI and machine learning to optimise their operations and be more efficient. Yes, brewmasters at Deschutes are using machine learning technology from Microsoft and OSIsoft PI Integrator for Microsoft Azure to transform beer making with data science. Beer fermentation typically takes 12 days. They’ve found if they can trim two days from each cycle they can get six more fermentations from their 50 vessels per year. The 20% increase in production capacity from existing equipment is expected to add US$6 million in profits annually.

Sandvik Coromant, a leading supplier of cutting tools, is using technology from Microsoft to develop solutions for monitoring machine processes and performance in order to reduce waste and improve production efficiencies. Once the domain of only the most skilled technical engineers, the testing processes have been digitally replicated. This has given Sandvik Coromant an entirely new service offering that it can provide to manufacturers and machine builders like DMG MORI, who builds industrial cnc-milling and turning machines for high volume production and high-quality made components. Using the new monitoring solutions, DMG MORI can now predict when a blade may need servicing or repair.

Why our customers and partners work with Microsoft

There are four major distinctions that set Microsoft apart from others: our commitment to security, global cloud scale, our partner ecosystem and our investments in continuous innovation and industry standards.

For the manufacturing industry, we continue to evolve our support of OPC UA, the machine-to-machine communications standard for industrial automation. Building on the OPC UA announcements from Hannover last year, Microsoft announced last week it’s making it even easier for manufacturers to use OPC UA to preconfigure factory devices from the cloud with our latest Azure IoT Connected Factory solution. Microsoft also announced Microsoft IoT Central, a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that has the potential to dramatically increase the speed manufacturers can innovate and bring new products to market and lower the barriers to creating IoT solutions that generate new revenue opportunities and better experiences for customers.

In addition to our own solutions, Microsoft Azure cloud is compatible with major IoT platforms including ABB Ability, Rockwell Automation and Siemens Mindsphere, giving manufacturers complete choice over the platforms they use. Most importantly, Microsoft is investing billions of dollars in security to help manufacturers to safeguard their intellectual property and protect themselves from cyberattacks.

It’s incredible and humbling to be on this transformational journey with so many ambitious, digital leaders. Come visit us in Hall 7 if you’re in Hannover.

Toni Townes-Whitley is Microsoft’s corporate vice president for worldwide industry. This article was originally published on Microsoft’s press site.

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