‘The future workplace will be less hazardous, more creative and subject to continuous change’
An interview with Armin Wittmann, Exhibition Group Director, automatica/Messe Muenchen.
Messe München GmbH
The biggest show for automation and robotics is growing bigger. What is the size and scale of automatica 2018 compared to the 2016 edition?
That's right, automatica is growing! We expect a total of almost 900 exhibitors and more booked exhibition area than ever before. For the first time, the fair will fully occupy six halls. Robotics and automation play a central role for all manufacturing companies in the wake of global competition. This positive development and a robust economy will hopefully also give automatica a boost on the visitor side.
The number of first time exhibitors is significant and interesting too. What explains the surge?
New customers have booked a total of 17 per cent of the total area. Whoever wants to expand or secure his competitive advantage in a globalised world must always be flexible, provide high quality and produce cost-effectively as well as use the opportunities of digitalisation. automatica provides innovations, trends and knowledge with a high level of business relevance. This is why the fair as a platform for automation companies is more important than ever.
What are the main highlights of this edition? Any sneak preview available from the leading exhibitors?
Visitors can look forward to many highlights at automatica 2018. In addition to the presentations and products of the exhibitors, there will be an extensive supporting program with live demonstrations, talks, panel discussions and conferences. Innovative formats such as the Startup Arena with pitch presentations and the Makeathon help to make it possible to experience industry trends.
What about the conferences and seminar programs?
The robotics conference "International Symposium on Robotics" (ISR) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In addition, the OPC Day Europe 2018 will again take place within the context of the trade fair. The Automobile Production congress is new. With the motto "On the way to autonomous production", the impact of digitalisation and artificial intelligence on vehicle production will be the focus there.
Industry 4.0 is no longer a concept but a reality bringing in other technologies such as digital twin. What will be the shape of the new workplaces?
The digitalisation of the production is a main factor for competitiveness and future success. The end-to-end digitalisation of the entire production chain from design to production and all the way to a finished product makes series production more flexible and saves costs. This is why IT as a link is the key factor for the intelligent production of tomorrow. How will this impact the future of our workplace? Our special show “The Role of Man in the Smart Factory” will give a deep insight into this topic. From today’s perspective, we can say that the future workplace will be less hazardous, more creative and subject to continuous change.
The field of collaborative and service robots is evolving rapidly in terms of applications and sophistication. What new developments are expected here?
Human-robot collaboration is an important issue for all automatica exhibitors, because the combination of the creativity of human labor-power and the technical capabilities of robots creates many new application possibilities. Various technological aspects will be examined at the trade fair: from safety and sensor technology to gripping technology and mechanics and all the way to programming and the division of labor. The "co-worker" robot is already at work in actual practice. The task now is to make the smart assistant more intelligent and flexible.
In the area of service robotics, automatica 2018 shows key technologies and components for the service robotics on one hand, but also operational solutions for different service sectors: transport and logistics and all the way to medical applications.
China had made quite a splash at automatica 2016. How strong is the Chinese contingent of exhibitors this year?
China is an important partner for the leading robotics and automation platform automatica in Munich. In 2016, we had a record number of visitors from China. It is in the 3rd place when it comes to our international visitors list. This year, we have so far approximately 15 exhibitors from China – a record number for automatica. This is proof that Chinese companies are conquering the world of robotics and automation at breakneck speed. For this reason, we expect a high rate of participation this year.
What are the statistics from India in terms of exhibitors and visitors?
In 2016 the number of Indian visitors increased by 50 per cent to 158. We hope that this positive development will continue again in 2018. On the exhibitor side, the picture is different as no company from India has applied so far.
Photo credits: automatic 2016 archives.
© 2017 IED All right reserved.