Hannover Messe 2023: Digital twins, gen AI and a look to the future

  • Posted on May 25, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Avanade Hannover Messe 2023

Imagine the world’s leading trade fair for industry, 4,000 companies and 100,000 attendees from around the world, gathered in one place to showcase and experience the latest equipment, materials and technologies that are changing the actual face of global manufacturing and production.

That was Hannover Messe 2023, an unforgettable experience for my team and me, both as exhibitors and attendees.

As others have remarked, the breadth of the event is a story in itself, encompassing every industry imaginable, as one person said, “any industry that makes anything.”

My team and I were in the Microsoft booth along with our Accenture colleagues, in the heart of the Digital Ecosystem hall, a popular place to be. Our schedule was fully booked every minute, as we talked with attendees and demonstrated how technologies such as those in our Industry X suite can help companies begin a digital journey that will reduce energy consumption, identify opportunities to improve production quality and output, and reach sustainability goals.

Those were also the topics I received the most questions about. In today’s economic climate, companies are focused on both speed and value. Any investment they make must provide both a short-term ROI and actual value that justifies its business case. One advantage today is that we can use technology to actually demonstrate in real time how a company can prove the speed and value of any investment before a single check is written or contract signed.

At Hannover Messe, for example, we were able to demonstrate during our conversations how it is possible to gather the information already existing in a company’s production systems, contextualize it and then use it to create data models from which we can build digital twins that mirror the actual production environment.

In one example, we were asked how we could reduce energy costs. We demonstrated an alternative to placing multiple energy sensors throughout a manufacturing operation, which would be costly. Instead, by using digital twin technology, we would be able to run various “what if” analyses that would help the company see the energy consumption of each actual production component. Armed with that information, production managers could create specific scenarios for production cycles that would save energy: when to purchase energy, when to turn on energy-hungry production lines, how much energy is required to produce a particular product and much more.

This ability to show rather than tell makes all the difference. As one company representative said to me at the end of such a session: “I was very sceptical about this, but you have shown me what this technology can do.”

Knowledge, they say, is power and that is especially true in the world of digital optimization.

Generative AI was another topic of intense interest. In the Microsoft booth where we were, you could see generative AI in action. In one demonstration, the team pulled data from a prototype production line with up to 400 sensors, contextualized and formatted it into data models, then connected those models to generative AI technology. They then created a query such as, “Tell me why, during the period of

Which brings me to another question I frequently heard during our conversations: “That would be amazing. But how – and where – would we start?”

My answer?

How: Focus on speed and value. We define and then select a first use case. Then together we execute a basic project that will demonstrate its value in 12-15 weeks. Over time, at a rate that is comfortable for the company, we expand and refine the first project and move on to another.

Where: The opportunities are endless. Among them:

  • Product optimization, quality control, energy optimization, sustainability
  • Worker safety, productivity and wellbeing, all of which offer true bottom-line business benefits
  • Sustainability, resilience, responsiveness, customer satisfaction
  • In the category of products and after sales, new revenue models, customer satisfaction and personalization, all important components of a successful organization in today’s environment

The bottom line is that from an Industry X foundation, digital technologies can help businesses transform their operations into adaptable and resilient enterprises that are innovative at scale, giving them a competitive advantage, and that put humans – both their personnel and their customers – first, always a winning strategy for success.

There was so much to experience at Hannover Messe, but what I came away valuing the most were the people I met and the conversations we had about the future of industry and manufacturing.

If these are topics that fascinate you too, I’d love to continue the conversation.

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