Efficient Engineering
Hannover Rittal fig 3

An Engineer Abroad: Dispatch from Hannover Messe

Trying to see everything on display at one of the largest industry shows in the world may be futile, but here are some of the highlights we did catch.

Before heading to the Hannover Messe show, I was fortunate enough to take a tour of the Rittal factory in Germany. The company, which manufactures enclosures, does have locations in Ohio, Nevada, and Texas, but this is where it all started back in 1961. While Rittal was touting many of the new products it would be featuring at the show, I was trying to see how easily I could break them. Turns out they really test their products—I couldn’t break a single thing! At the testing facility I saw why—they actually use guns and bowling balls to test their products; I didn’t stand a chance.

I was also attracted to Rittal’s bus bar technology. I was impressed with how everything is simple and limits the use of tools, specifically the RiLine. It is a quick way to make one or many connections to the bus bar without a single tool. They snap into place, and Rittal offers the large connectors that can be used for many applications.

Rittal’s RiLine Compact is a smart power distribution system for simple and fast assembly. It is fully insulated and has no processing due to plug-in modules, and is certified internationally for IEC and UL.

 

There was also a new conductor connection clamp with push-in spring clip. You simply clip the small gray clamp onto the bus bar, then push in the cable. To remove the cable, you push in a pink button and pull on the cable. While this sounds basic, with the countless connections you make in a cabinet, this technology increases your ROI.

This new toolless bus bar clamp shows Rittal's commitment to simplifying products. This saves time and you don’t need to reach for a screwdriver to mount it. 

 

One of the projects at Rittal’s Innovation Center involved augmented reality (AR). As I said, there are a lot of connections to be made in a cabinet. AR can show step by step where devices need to be installed and where cables are to be run. This can eliminate the time it takes to reference a print after every step of a build.

Continuing on to the show, AR did seem like a good way to get people into your booth. Some companies were really embracing the technology.

DAQRI showed off the DAQRI Smart Helmet, its AR safety helmet featuring Intel Core M7 Processor, Intel RealSense Depth Sensor and safety glasses. The DAQRI Smart Helmet can over lay prints, messages from engineers, work instructions, maintenance history, Remote Expert functionality and more.

DAQRI has introduced a new AR safety helmet featuring  Intel Core M7 Processor, Intel RealSense Depth Sensor, and safety glasses.

 

As the skills gap is growing and senior-level people are retiring before passing on their tribal knowledge, AR technology might be a good way to help preserve this information. AR glasses or helmets could videotape an experienced person performing a task, maintenance, and troubleshooting. Then the video would be available to be played over the vision of another user for training.

AR wasn’t the only popular trend; crowds also gathered for displays of 6-axis arms and mobile robots. At the show they moved objects around booths to get attention, and it worked. However, one trend that was hard to see in the booths was everyone’s apps. Having wireless technology sync or gather data on an app might sound like a security risk, but is one reason why many apps used near-field communication. This saves all the hardware, cables, and connectors necessary to transmit data. Walking past one of the many Phoenix Contact booths, I noticed NFC tags on many of its products.

NFC has built-in security, as no data is transmitted unless you are close to the machine (about 10 cm). This means a physical person must be by the machine to make this work, but can then upload data on a secure network to where it is needed.

 

Wireless was a trend I noticed through the massive amount of products at this show. For remote access without the need of a technician with an app, wireless controllers, drives, and more were touted at many booths. While Ethernet is becoming more popular to increase the amount of data, Anybus is communicating wirelessly over 10 different buses—hence, the name Anybus.  Also, the distance seems to be increasing; as one representative said, the Wireless Bridge II can connect to devices 400 meters away. He was honest, mentioning that in order to get a connection over this distance there would have to be little between the devices to interfere with the signal.

Many companies are integrating wireless controls into manufacturing panels. This offers more data for manager to make more informed decision. In addition, if a new line is installed it can save time and money on installing the cables that would need to be run in order to obtain the same results.

It was impossible to cover everything at this show, but it was fun to try. Hannover Messe is a show where a booth could be the size of a small expo by itself. The biggest lesson I took from this show was, as in industry, you never have enough time. Planning and setting goals is essential.  

 

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