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Showcasing smart manufacturing innovations
ROBOTIC vehicles that can identify and move pallets of goods, virtual power plants redirecting electricity to and from grids, and digital simulations of entire production chains - these are but a few of the newest ideas in advanced manufacturing that visitors to the Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC (ITAP) trade show will get an up-close look at.
This first Asia-Pacific edition of the iconic Hannover Messe industrial technology trade show, which runs from Tuesday to Thursday, will have 265 exhibitors from 22 countries showcasing a multitude of products and solutions. Organisers scaled the original 15,000 square metres of allocated event space up to 20,000 sqm, after ITAP's launch in April drew a stronger than anticipated response from regional industrialists.
Exhibitors told The Business Times that they were drawn to the event's focus on the Asia-Pacific region, and the chance to reach customers and partners interested in the full range of Industry 4.0 concepts and technologies.
"With Asia-Pacific shaping up to be an economic heavyweight in advanced manufacturing, and leading the Industry 4.0 charge, being a founding partner of the ITAP is a natural choice for us," says Ashish Pujari, SAP's GM & VP Digital Supply Chain & Manufacturing - Asia-Pacific & Japan.
ITAP's clear focus on the "megatrends of today" can be seen in the four categories that exhibitors could choose to be part of - additive manufacturing, digital factory, industrial automation and smart logistics - said a representative of Zeiss, the German manufacturer of optical systems, industrial measurement and medical devices.
COBOTS AND AR ON THE SHOPFLOOR
It isn't an industrial technology show without the snazzy robots, and there will certainly be those at ITAP.
ST Engineering is launching Strobo, a new family of autonomous vehicles for material handling tasks. These are able to plan paths dynamically, navigate warehouse aisles, detect and avoid obstacles, and can be remotely operated over wireless networks.
The vehicles can also accurately identify and move cargo both indoors and outdoors, thanks to their advanced pallet detection and recognition capabilities. This makes them "safe and efficient, ideal for routine, repetitive material handling tasks", ST Engineering says.
Also being showcased is ST Engineering's latest T4 model of TUG, an autonomous mobile robot that has already been deployed in more than 200 customer sites worldwide - from manufacturing plants to hospitals and hotels.
Over at the digital factory space, Schneider Electric will feature its EcoStruxure family of innovations, including an Internet-of-Things platform that allows machine builders to track, monitor and even fix IoT-enabled machines remotely.
Another highlight from Schneider Electric is its augmented operator adviser, which allows on-site technicians to view superimposed real-time data over parts of a machine, simply by holding up an augmented reality (AR)-powered tablet to the machine being worked on.
Meanwhile, in the additive manufacturing arena, Zeiss will have on show its DuraMax Production CMM (coordinate measuring machine) that has been integrated with pick-and-place KUKA collaborative robotics and promises speed on the shop floor as well as less manpower for lower costs.
Information and data flow resulting from Industry 4.0 technologies can be huge, and on show will be systems addressing this too.
Zeiss will feature its PiWeb big data management software, which collects data from the entire supply chain and offers real-time visualisation of that process data in a format accessible from multiple devices.
And, Siemens will introduce MindSphere 3.0, the latest version of its open Internet of Things (IoT) operating system, which connects products, plants, systems and machines to harness data generated by IoT, using advanced analytics.
DIGITAL FACTORIES, DIGITAL TWINS
ITAP also aims to offer visitors an experience of the future of manufacturing.
Mr Pujari says SAP intends to create such an experience for visitors by showing them how digital twins come to life in a supply chain.
"The showcase will demonstrate how this exciting technology will enable organisations to connect their machines within a network throughout their lifecycle, allowing them to monitor and analyse their operations. Through real-life manufacturing scenarios, we will be demonstrating how businesses can get total visibility as products are designed, manufactured and deployed, by connecting processes with real-time data from assets, equipment, customers and suppliers," he says.
Similarly, Raimund Klein, Executive Vice President, Digital Factory, Process Industries & Drives, Siemens, believes visitors ought to "experience the full scale of digital transformation" and "how digital technologies - such as generative design, 3D printing and virtual reality - act as innovation accelerators".
To that end, Siemens will be featuring its Digital Enterprise Suite, which offers discrete industries with integrated software and hardware solutions to digitalise their entire value chain, suppliers included.
"The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain - the digital twin," says Mr Klein. Companies can then simulate, test and optimise processes in a virtual environment, reducing time-to-market and raising flexibility and efficiency.
"This is important because businesses are facing increased competition and the need for shorter product cycles, accelerated response times and flexible manufacturing. At the same time, customers expect fully configurable, smart products," SAP's Mr Pujari adds.