Longtime baseball fans know well of the late, great Ernie Banks. The first African-American member of the Chicago Cubs, he played 19 seasons, was a 14-time All Star, won two league MVP awards and was a first-ballot Hall-of-Fame inductee. Noted for his boundless energy and passion, legend has it that on an oppressively hot summer day Banks rallied his teammates with the famous saying, “It’s a beautiful day. Let’s play two.”
Fans of fluid power might want to channel Banks’ enthusiasm and contemplate a visit to Germany this spring, as the Hannover Fair and bauma are running back-to-back. With an easy train ride, one could hit both in the span of a week.
These massive, mind-boggling trade fairs are unlike any we see in the U.S. — combined, they are expected to attract more than 800,000 visitors from nearly every country worldwide — and fluid power will have an outsized presence at both. Virtually every type of component, sensor, control, software and system imaginable will be found among 14 exhibit halls in Hannover. And it’s hard to find a mobile machine without hydraulics among the thousands that will be on display at bauma.
While one show leans industrial and the other to mobile and mining, both address common hot-button issues for fluid power. Consider digital integration. It’s permitting more exacting control, better performance and higher efficiency in hydraulic and pneumatic systems across the board. Industry 4.0/IoT is a ubiquitous theme at Hannover, with networked production, predictive maintenance and machine learning positioned as the basis for “smart” factories.
At bauma, the trend is toward cloud-integrated construction sites and machines equipped with sensors and communication interfaces that improve precision, lower fuel consumption and emissions, anticipate breakdowns and manage entire fleets. Automated machine functions and expanded use of driverless vehicles will drive productivity.
Likewise, there’s electrification. Industrial fluid-power cylinders have been fighting neck-and-neck with electromechanical drives for years. Now electric construction machines, while still just novelties or prototypes, are gaining momentum in the push for zero-emission vehicles. That could profoundly affect fluid power.
Other areas of emphasis include everything from new materials and coatings to virtual reality for training and servicing. R&D clusters will glean the future with topics like cognitive systems, bionic robotics and the growing importance of artificial intelligence in production.
Finally, to address the shortage of skilled workers, fair organizers have arranged young-engineer events. Relatively new graduates and university students can get free career-coaching sessions with industry experts, try out simulators and learn about internships, apprenticeships and non-traditional technical professions. Special networking events for women target successful career strategies and novel work options.
Well over 200 North American firms will be exhibiting, along with countless other European and Asian companies with a strong U.S. presence. To those executives attending: Consider bringing along one or two of your young engineers. From a career development standpoint, the experience would be invaluable. It’s a unique opportunity to meet key players, suppliers and competitors, learn about the newest trends and see the latest innovations. The impressions will be long-lasting, foster a more broad-minded perspective and, ultimately, make them more valuable employees. Hannover and bauma? Let’s play two!
For more details on these trade fairs, see our accompanying stories on Hannover Messe and bauma.