Hannover Fair 2022: the largest industrial company in the world


After an unprecedented 3-year hiatus, Hannover Messe returned last month in a more compact format, but with a surprisingly high level of enthusiasm among exhibitors and visitors. Tired of video conferences and virtual events, 75,000 industry players attended the 4-day event which was postponed earlier this year from its traditional April timeslot. Despite its small size, the show did not disappoint and exhibitors said they were very satisfied with the quality of contacts. Anyway, it was great to be back.

One of the main themes of this year’s show was “digital ecosystems” in the industry. The most interesting exhibits and largest crowds were in the halls that hosted companies offering cloud and edge infrastructure, including digital platforms and industry-specific solutions for data processing. Another common theme was sustainability, which is gaining traction among industry suppliers as threats increase from global warming and tight energy markets.

Industrial events resume!

While the show was only a third the size of Hannover Messe 2019 in terms of exhibitors and visitors, nearly every major automation vendor exhibited, along with a plethora of IT companies. Notable companies that stayed away were ABB (with B&R), Emerson Electric, Endress+Hauser and Mitsubishi Electric.

Industry uncovers data

Manufacturers process production data daily. However, the digital transformation journeys currently underway result in the generation of much higher amounts of data, and many companies do not have the IT systems or the right people to extract value from this data. This year’s show was marked by a variety of small businesses vying for the attention of industrial users plagued by this dilemma. Companies such as Cognite, Sight Machine, Radix, Element Analytics, Crosser and many more offer solutions that help industry users access, contextualize and even “democratize” industry data – a known practice under the name “Industrial DataOps”.

Coopetition for IoT platforms

How to explain the plethora of IoT offerings from small businesses and start-ups? The availability of IoT and Industrial IoT platforms makes it possible. IoT platforms host applications of all sizes and provide ready-to-use cloud infrastructure with deployment and connectivity tools. This allows app developers to focus most of their attention and engineering time on building the app. With IoT platforms, the potential for a cottage industry of useful industrial applications is enormous.

Essentially, two companies, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, dominate the hosting market for IoT platforms. Users can use platforms and tools offered by either company, or they can select an industrial IoT platform from an industrial vendor like EcoStruxure (Schneider Electric) or MindSphere (Siemens) . As for the platform, AWS or Microsoft typically provide cloud hosting, resulting in an interesting form of “co-opetition” between IT and OT vendors.

API as a service

Software-defined everything is common in the computing world, because hardware-based functions are systematically replaced by software. But can this concept be applied to the real-time control of industrial machines? The answer is YES, but only if the right framework is in place to program, deploy, and monitor the performance of virtualized automation assets.

Software-defined automation is the concept of virtualizing traditional automation hardware to manage it as a software asset. SDA is also the name of a start-up that presented its solution on the stand of AWS partners at the Hannover fair. The company’s PLC Ops suite for automation engineers enables industrial control as a service by virtualizing commercially available PLCs through a digital twin of the controller. Industrial automation practitioners benefit from hardware-independent remote connectivity, simplified collaborative API engineering, and virtual APIs with real-time deterministic behavior running on commodity hardware. The vPLC solution enables real-time deterministic control to be performed on virtualized edge servers in combination with a comprehensive vPLC management interface in the cloud. Combined with the Cloud Automation Engineering solution, it enables customers to improve flexibility, productivity and security while gaining independence from vendor-specific industrial automation hardware.

SDA’s solution supports the migration of customers from conventional APIs to fully virtualized API controls running on VMware Edge Compute Stack on conventional computing servers next to the shop floor. Automation engineers can continue to work with vPLCs as with conventional PLCs via a cloud-based control plane. SDA’s cloud application allows users to provision, manage and monitor vPLC instances from servers located in the factory. According to SDA, real-time virtual controllers achieve deterministic control cycle times of

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Keywords: Hanover Fair, IoT Platforms, Cloud, Edge, IT/OT Convergence, Sustainability, ARC Advisory Group.

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