When we compare the evolution of Digitization in Production, we have to analyze the evolution of the Hannover Messe Fair in the last 5 years.

In 2014, the Hannover Messe Fair was still a very industry oriented fair and was clearly distinctive of the CEBIT IT fair, that took place a month earlier at the same place in Hannover. In the 2018 edition of European biggest industrial fair, that distinction was by far more difficult to identify and some of the fair visitors were certainly wondering if they were on an IT fair or at the Industry oriented Hannover Messe Fair:

More and more software editors are present at the Hannover Messe Fair and the big Manufacturing solution players at the Hannover Fair are presenting IT and Digitization solutions:

  • Mecalux, Ecava, Axoom and many other production and logistic oriented companies presented their software solutions for Logistics, Warehouse management and Production.·
  • Lyric Robot and Bozhon showed the benefits of robots for integrated automation solution in the Automotive sector or other heavily process oriented industry sectors.
  • Festo demonstrated how factory workers are helped, not replaced, by bionic robots, in order to achieve higher production levels with less strain and hazards for the individual worker.
  • Bosch presented its manufacturing solution of an adaptable production site for more efficiency in Production and Maintenance.
  • SAP, next to all its different kind of production-oriented solution demonstrations, emphasized at its boost the concept of Predictive Maintenance for the complex management of replacement of spare parts and of consumables “just in time”, so that production will not be altered or stopped at the wrong moment and in fewer times.

It can easily be foreseen what lays ahead for the production work force after a long stroll on the Hannover Messe fair. 

Concerning these big changes in production, a study of the Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB, German Institute for Job Market and Occupational Research) and of the Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB, German Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training) * predicts that in a few years a decrease of 130 000 production jobs in Germany will have taken place. But, in the same time, 120 000 new positions in Germany will have been created in the IT sector for programming and developing new robotic and software solutions dedicated to Production activities.

Other studies of the IAB and of other research institutes show as well that jobs will alter in production and in other areas of the economy, but that they will not disappear. **

Gartner for example predicts a higher demand of skilled IT people to satisfy the ever-increasing automation in the manufacturing and process industry. *** It is a well-known fact that engineers and IT specialists are desperately needed at many production companies and in many IT services companies. Besides, skilled production workers, who have learned to cope with the new digitization of their workplaces and who are willing to learn new tools and new IT solutions, won’t have to worry about their future. They won’t be affected by this transformation. On the contrary, they will be highly in demand!

*cf.http://www.iab.de/en/publikationen/kurzbericht/publikationendetails-kurzbericht.aspx/Publikation/k121026j01 ; Download May 10 2018

**cf. e.g. DIE ZEIT No. 7/2018, 8. Feb. 2018

***cf. https://www.gartner.com/technology/research/digital-disruption/ , Download May 10 2018

Jean Jacques WENDORFF

Partner ALHAMBRA International Germany.