Hanover fair: where robots rule
6,500 companies from 70 countries and countless exhibits: Hannover Messe is the largest industrial fair in the world. Although robots are clearly the main focus, there's plenty other noteworthy things.
A sea of robots wherever you look: That's the sight in many exhibition halls. Some of the steely machines are large and strong, others are small and nimble. What they all, allegedly, have in common: Their sole purpose is helping humankind.
My toys, your toys
This friendly fellow (on the right) only wants to play with Lego. Although German medium-sized enterprise Schunk doesn't build robots, it gives them their hands: The gripping technology of the company is at a premium around the world.
The industry iPad
"Had nobody said 'We don’t need a manual anymore,' the iPhone would have never asserted itself so rapidly. We are starting to see this kind of thinking in factories now," said Hanover fair chief Jochen Köckler. Manufacturers like Universal Robots from Denmark exhibit corresponding digital solutions.
Attention: Put on your safety shoes!
Today, factories resemble a jungle of warning notices and signs conveying a myriad of information that is hard to remember. In the future, we might wear smartwatches instead that will alert us to wear safety shoes when entering a given area.
When you can't escape the future, a look back to the past can't hurt. It was exactly 70 years ago that the first "export fair" took place in Hanover. During 21 (!) trade fair days, export contracts worth around $32 million (29 million euros) were negotiated. At this year's anniversary edition, retrofitted Volkswagen "Bulli" T1 vans drove attendees around.
Speaking of buses
This exemplar is much more modern than the T1, especially its power unit: A fuel cell, made by Ursus, a firm from the fair's partner nation, Poland. The bus is also a German-Polish coproduction: Two electric drives from German company Ziehl-Abegg power the vehicle.
It's a cloud!
Where is this cloud everybody keeps talking about? In Hanover! Only figuratively, of course, but e-commerce giant Amazon now having a presence in Hanover shows that there's a lot of money to be made with cloud services, or the storing of data on remote servers.
Although the dominating theme at Hanover fair is the digitalization of production, not everything is digital. In case of a server malfunction or a rusty robot, one can also find the perfect emergency tool: a sledgehammer.