High energy costs, broken supply chains and rising raw material prices continue to pose new challenges to business. To remain competitive, companies need to take steps to increase their efficiency and contain energy costs, which in turn will lead to a reduction in their carbon footprint. High-tech solutions in this area will be presented at HANNOVER MESSE – the world’s leading industrial trade fair, and the only event to centrally showcase the interaction of leading companies from the mechanical engineering, electrical and digital industries as well as the energy sector.
“At the upcoming HANNOVER MESSE, we will be able to witness the new products and substantial innovations with which our exhibitors are tackling several different crises. In April, they will be presenting highly specific solutions for greater efficiency to counter climate change and enable CO²-neutral production. Digitization, artificial intelligence and hydrogen play a prominent role here,” reports Dr. Jochen Köckler, Chairman of the Managing Board at Deutsche Messe. “Due to their high level of innovation, companies from the drive and fluid technology sectors have traditionally been among the biggest and most sustainable drivers of innovation at HANNOVER MESSE.”
And indeed, the transformation of drive technology and fluid power is running at full speed. Despite numerous global challenges, the two sectors are experiencing excellent economic results. Innovativeness and solutions competence are placing drive and fluid technology at the heart of Industrie 4.0. Added to this are the issues of climate protection and resource efficiency, which require cutting-edge technologies to provide lasting solutions. Here in particular, digitization offers new, efficient and sustainable solution approaches for customers in both industries.
“Drive and fluid technology components are the central building blocks of machines, for power and motion, but also as a source of data for digital value-added services and crucial to the performance of customer products – this is what we will be showing at HANNOVER MESSE,” emphasizes Hartmut Rauen, Deputy Executive Director of VDMA and responsible for power transmission engineering and fluid power at the association. Numerous VDMA member companies will be highlighting practical examples in the context of digitization and sustainability.
Greater industry revenue in 2022
The companies grouped in drive technology and fluid power trade associations can look back on a successful 2022. Sustained high order volumes and even order backlogs have resulted in industry sales of around 9.5 billion euros in fluid power and just under 18 billion euros in drive technology, which are record figures. Despite challenging conditions, sales in hydraulics rose by more than 10 percent in nominal terms to around 6.5 billion euros compared with the already excellent previous year. In pneumatics, sales are a tad over 3 billion euros, which also represents a nominal increase of around 10 percent compared with 2021. Drive technology is recording a short-term nominal increase in sales of just under 12 percent.
Slight increase expected in 2023
It is difficult to forecast developments for 2023. Order intake weakened somewhat towards the end of last year, although the base effect of the very good previous year must also be taken into account, with some customers’ warehouses also being full. Overall, the Executive Board of the Fluid Power Association anticipates nominal sales growth of 2 percent for the industry this year (hydraulics and pneumatics both + 2 percent). The Executive Board for Drive Technology expects a nominal increase of 3 percent.
Continued challenges due to supply chain problems and a shortage of skilled workers
The supply of raw materials and energy, rising costs, inflation as well as supply chain problems and a shortage of skilled workers continue to be a burden. Even though the dramatic picture emerging from VDMA flash surveys seems to be gradually easing for upstream supply chains, it will remain a defining issue. In terms of challenges, this is only surpassed by the shortage of skilled workers, which more than 80 percent of companies see as an existential issue for the future. The VDMA is committed to this with initiatives such as the Young Talent Foundation, Talentmaschine (talentmaschine.de), the Tech Talents young talent fair, research projects (for example in the Fluid Power Research Fund or the Drive Technology Research Association) and numerous trade association-specific activities.
Indonesia – potential for the future
Due to a number of different global crises, many companies are currently focusing their strategy on China and ASEAN markets. This year’s partner country, Indonesia, has so far played a fairly minor role as a trading partner for the two sectors. In the fluid power sector, exports amount to 20 million euros (40th place in export rankings) and in drive technology 39 million euros (44th place in export rankings).
There is a great deal of potential here however, especially in view of the fact that Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and rich in raw materials. Both industries are planning to open up new markets outside of China. This is mainly dependent on how Indonesia succeeds in the future in developing an independent mechanical engineering sector in addition to its agricultural industry, construction industry and raw materials market.
Extensive VDMA digitization activities
In terms of digitization, the Fluid Power Association is a pioneer, with the digital twin created in the management shell. Data and information over the entire life cycle are available in a standardized, structured form that is compatible with other formats across all manufacturers. Sub-models containing data for specific use cases are driving new business models. The results, which have been published at fluidtechnik40.de, are the result of years of standardization activities, which continue to be facilitated by the staff of fluid power member companies with great commitment.
The Power Transmission Engineering Association, with the participation of leading drive technology manufacturers, is developing OPC UA Companion Specifications for the industry in an international Joint Working Group. The first OPC UA Specification 40400-1 describes a uniform information model for the vertical integration of drive systems with the application area of asset management. In addition, the contents of the second part of the OPC UA Companion Specification Powertrain (40400-2) have already been defined.
The fluid power and drive technology activities are flanked by several VDMA initiatives, for example one involving the OPC UA interface standard, the “Industrial Digital Twin Association” (IDTA) alliance co-initiated by VDMA, the “Wireless Communications for Machines” working group, and the “Industrial Security” Competence Center, which is also exhibiting at the show. With Manufacturing-X, the federative data room ecosystem for the manufacturing industry, the platform gap is now also closing. In this way, the VDMA is helping to realize the interoperable system landscape of intelligently connected Industrie 4.0 production methods.
Sustainability continues to be a major theme
In a survey of VDMA members, the number of companies dealing with climate-related issues tripled in 2022 compared with 2019. In addition, 71 percent of the companies surveyed said they are creating resources to address the challenge of climate change. Power transmission and fluid power companies are actively contributing to climate protection with performance modules and smart, efficient components and systems. The sustainability activities of the trade associations, including on the topics of carbon footprints, digital product passports or the circular economy, will be flanked in Hannover by two new guides for member companies on circular economy and climate-neutral production. The aim is to provide members with assistance in analyzing and implementing the relevant issues at their companies. In addition, the VDMA’s “Carbon Busters Award” initiative – a competition in which young employees can submit ideas for reducing CO² consumption – will present and highlight the winning proposals at HANNOVER MESSE.
Companies to exhibit digital and sustainable solutions
Companies from the VDMA Drive Technology and Fluid Power Associations offer core components and systems to help their customers implement issues surrounding sustainability and digitization. The examples at the trade fair reveal that the supplier industry is an important source of data and offers services that make future-efficient and sustainable machines possible.
The structured and continuous generation and processing of data are essential in this context. Software and hardware go hand in hand. This is what makes automated and predictive maintenance and the efficient operation of machines and plants possible. Digitization is leading mechanical engineering into the future by promoting sustainability, and drive technology and fluid power – as supplier industries – are key enablers.
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