What to Expect at Hannover Messe 2024

ABI Research will attend the Hannover Messe 2024 exhibition in late April to evaluate the most transformative technologies shaping the industrial markets. This article shares our analysts' predictions for the event. Before we get to those expectations, here is a word from ABI Research Chief Research Officer Stuart Carlaw.

Hannover Messe is one of the year's pivotal industrial technology conferences and tradeshows. This year is more pivotal than others, given the condition of the global markets, industrial recession in core markets, geopolitical instability, and financial impact arising from COVID-19 responses. Is the situation all bleak? No is the answer. We are at a turning point and subject to any other external shocks, so we look set to see the industry exhibit green shoots of growth.

When looking at the market's immediate future, it is clear that digital technologies are the core to powering out of this slump. Hannover Messe will be echoing with talk of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital twins, industrial metaverse, sustainability, connectivity, and private networks. The common denominator for all of these technology areas is that they are focused on solving some of the real market problems that are creating inertia for the market.

The Team at ABI Research looks forward to experiencing:

  • How digital twins will allow virtual commissioning and efficient maintenance
  • How the industrial metaverse will allow for upskilling and training workforces and optimizing operations
  • How generative AI will democratize access to data and digital services
  • How AI will help with sustainability monitoring and reporting
  • How connectivity technologies will connect more assets

Now is the time for companies to look to make those critical technology decisions that will elevate them out of the crowd and ride the wave of looming recovery. Look out for our post-Hannover Messe whitepaper that will outline our key findings!

Industrial Sustainability and Smart Energy Will Take Center Stage

Vice President, Vertical/End Markets Dominique Bonte predicts that Hannover Messe 2024 will zoom in on sustainability and smart energy more than ever. As Bonte reports, “3 of the 5 main themes of the show will be related to industrial decarbonization: carbon-neutral production, energy for industry, and hydrogen & fuel cells.”

These topics have now become unavoidable as they represent the single biggest challenge the manufacturing industry will be facing in the next decade, with net-zero regulatory targets looming large.

Industrial electrification (think heat pumps, electric furnaces, and electric equipment) is the equivalent of how Electric Vehicles (EVs) are transforming the automotive and transportation industries. On-site renewables generation and battery energy storage are already becoming fundamental assets of large industrial operations like mining and are set for widespread adoption across the manufacturing segment.

At the same time, Bonte posits that these smart energy systems will be critical for the uninterrupted operation of discrete and process-based production lines. Bonte continues, “Guaranteeing minimum downtimes will require applying the entire spectrum of Industry 4.0 tools ranging from (generative) AI and digital twins to enhanced connectivity and various manufacturing management software tools.”

ABI Research expects “digitalization of electrification” to be a key theme at Hannover Messe, with vendors like Schneider Electric, Siemens, and ABB showcasing digitalization tools at the intersection between the (electric) energy and manufacturing verticals.

Technology Vendors Will Showcase Their Generative AI Credentials

In the halls of the Hannover Fairgrounds, ABI Research Director Michael Larner expects a lot of buzz surrounding generative AI. However, he will be looking to ascertain whether there is a genuine shift from the hype around generative AI’s potential toward meaningful use cases to improve processes. Larner states, “Implementers with long memories will have experienced waves of much-hyped technologies that come to little (the hype around Second Life in the noughties has parallels here).”

Furthermore, Larner believes that implementers visiting the show will be disappointed if vendors’ solutions are repackaged data analytics solutions. “It will be essential for vendors to articulate how their generative AI-based solutions meet the needs of individual vertical markets with a clear pathway to Return on Investment (ROI), including how to scale solutions, rather than endless Proofs of Concept (PoCs).” Optimistically, Larner expects the ABI Research team to witness the outcome of thousands of hours of innovations that will enable industrial and manufacturing firms to improve productivity, quality, safety, and their bottom lines.

Industrial Metaverse Will Be in the Limelight

“Two main approaches to creating and enabling the industrial metaverse will be on display: outside-in and inside-out,” says ABI Senior Research Director Ryan Martin.

Outside-in metaverse will be created by companies like Matterport, PTC, and Hexagon, which offer and are developing robust spatial capture solutions equipped to record and digitalize real-world environments.

Inside-out metaverse will be led by companies like Siemens, Dassault Systèmes, and AVEVA, powering immersive engineering experiences across factories, buildings, and government infrastructure projects using digital twins.

Use cases demonstrated at Hannover Messe will range from point solutions that facilitate more seamless collaboration for designers and engineers to “art of the possible” scenarios such as a factory fly-through with zoom-in/zoom-out capabilities. The use cases that get the most attention will be those that demonstrate near-immediate business value, like removing travel from training and remote support.

Martin says the conversation around generative AI in the context of the metaverse will be for scene creation and the normalization of workflows that deliver actionable insights. The belief is that customers need a clear business case that is aided by ease of use, and generative solutions will help.

Martin concludes, “The longer-term challenge for solutions providers is how to enable an end state where real-time rendering of physics-based environments brings high-fidelity simulation and process improvement capabilities to any device via a web browser.”

Spotlight on Connectivity’s Crucial Role in Enterprise Digitization

While the past years of Hannover Messe have been a somewhat painful reality check for private cellular connectivity and cloud computing technologies, ABI Research Principal Analyst Leo Gergs expects this year’s event to represent connectivity differently. “For it seems that connectivity has now found its realistic place in the context of enterprise digitization: it will be a critical enabler for enterprise applications and outcomes—nothing more and nothing less,” states Gergs.

Most importantly, in this context, the 2024 edition of Hannover Messe will see connectivity and compute domains moving closer together and will feature more presentations and announcements combining the capabilities of 5G connectivity with edge and cloud computing to enable large-scale deployment of AI applications and improved analytics capabilities.

Furthermore, Hannover Messe will provide an opportunity for interesting new connectivity initiatives to present themselves. Among the most interesting to watch will be a new initiative from the DECT Forum called NR+, which stands for a new wireless technology known as DECT NR+ or DECT-2020 NR. This has been developed as the world's first non-cellular 5G technology. This technology will use 5G’s New Radio (NR) interface but will exist outside of The 3rd Generation Partnership Project’s (3GPP) standards.

“While the prospect of commercial traction remains slim, it will be interesting to see how the discussion will be received on the show floor,” concludes Gergs.

A Generative AI Gold Rush

Generative AI will steal the show at Hannover Messe 2024, according to Industry Analyst James Iversen. Iversen believes that software vendors will promote generative AI as the new gold rush at Hannover Messe 2024, with limitless potential and no risk. It will be in the hands of the manufacturers to judge whether tangible benefits and reasonable returns will occur on a case-by-case basis.

With the expansive nature of generative AI, use cases from design through the final delivery of products will be showcased at Hannover; however, all use cases must be heavily vetted. Iversen suggests that the reader look for companies with proven track records of implementing groundbreaking technology (e.g., the cloud), along with companies that have put pen to paper with current leaders in the space, such as NVIDIA, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). As he says. “In terms of deployment timeline, carry skepticism for tentative release dates and roadmap objectives for generative AI applications.”

Much like Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and sustainability goals, generative AI will not be a fixed solution that rolls off the shelf in 6 months. Continuous tweaks and redeployments will be required before high ROI use cases are widely deployed on manufacturing lines. With an agreed consensus among software providers, manufacturers, and industry professionals that generative AI is here to stay, it is imperative that Hannover Messe provides the baseline for current use cases, while clearly articulating the art of the possible without overpromising and underdelivering.

See the on-demand webinar featuring Iversen and Senior Analyst Reece Hayden to hear more about AI’s transformative impact on the manufacturing sector.

Sustainability at the Fore

ABI Research’s Research Analyst Alexander McQueen expects to see a focus on hydrogen and its applications as a fuel source across industries like steel, chemicals, and mobility. This will be showcased by the presence of a greater number of companies providing solutions for hydrogen production, transportation, and storage. The production and consumption of (green) hydrogen is considered a critical strategy for reducing industrial emissions by replacing fossil fuels needed to power high-temperature industrial processes.

Also on the energy side, McQueen expects to see several new smart energy storage solutions and an identification of opportunities where energy storage can be integrated into existing infrastructure. Given the current pressures on grid capacity, the development of storage technologies is essential to supporting the energy transition, facilitating the introduction of renewable energy to the grid, and increasing the reliability of power supply.

Finally, McQueen foresees announcements on new sustainability features in design software/simulation tools that enable manufacturing process optimization, emissions management, resource efficiency, and product lightweighting, as a few examples.

A Generative AI Deluge

“Visitors can be expected to be inundated with generative AI at this year’s Hannover Messe,” says Industry Analyst James Prestwood. He continues, “The real challenge will be differentiating real and high-impact use cases from the marketing fluff. Every company worth its salt now has some form of AI application baked into its solution so that it will be critical for analysts, and most importantly, manufacturers, to identify technology vendors with strategic roadmaps for their solutions and hopefully the beginning of some concrete examples of scaling deployments.”

One generative AI application Prestwood is eager to see demonstrated at Hannover Messe 2024 is its use in supporting Programable Logic Controller (PLC) coding, something that was tentatively shown by some vendors such as Beckhoff at last year’s Hannover Messe. Following NVIDIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jensen Huang's prediction of the removal of the need to learn to code, it will be interesting to see if these solutions take on a new shine and come to the fore more visibly.

Finally, Prestwood expects quality to be a key topic of focus across many vendors and manufacturing delegates. This is due to the current market trend toward increasingly customized solutions, and quality traceability continues to drive the need for new quality-focused hardware and software.

When our analysts return from Germany, they will share their key Hannover Messe 2024 takeaways with a free whitepaper. Keep your eyes open for this resource under our News & Resources tab.

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