Hannover Fair 2005 postscript

Hannover, Germany—Enthusiasm in the air during this year’s Hannover Industrial Fair (April 11-15) translated to measurable metrics, as more than 205,000 visitors—20% over 2004—were drawn to 2.2 million sq ft of technology and product displays in 24 exhibit halls.


Motors, Drives, Motion Control

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder opened the Partner Country Russia exhibition, during one of their several appearances at the fair. (Photo by Frank Bartos, Control Engineering .)

Hannover, Germany —Enthusiasm in the air during this year’s Hannover Industrial Fair (April 11-15) translated to measurable metrics, as more than 205,000 visitors—20% over 2004—were drawn to 2.2 million sq ft of technology and product displays in 24 exhibit halls. Number of visitors in 2005 reversed a recent trend of falling attendance even with a newly streamlined five-day fair format—one day shorter than in 2004. Number of exhibiting companies at 6,090 also showed a gain versus 5,085 in 2004, coming from 65 countries (60 in 2004).

This year’s successful formula of “less = more” stemmed from various factors. Process automation show Interkama, now incorporated into the Fair’s annual program, completes the total range of industrial automation offerings unmatched by another single exhibition. Interkama made its 2004 debut here, after running on a non-annual schedule as a separate trade fair in Dusseldorf. Hannover Fair offers a format of multiple “fairs within a fair,” which in 2005 comprised 11 topical shows.

One of Hannover Fair’s traditions is a “Partner Country” exhibition. Selection of Russia as the partner country for 2005 proved to be a particularly strong draw. A 71,000 sq ft Russian pavilion showcased that country’s technological expertise and industrial products. More than 150 Russian companies participated, with aviation, machinery, and process industries in the spotlight. More than a token presence of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Russian President Vladimir Putin in and about various fair activities contributed to the event’s stature (photo). As part of the fair’s international business attraction, eight German-Russian contracts worth several billion euros were signed, according to show organizer Deutsche Messe AG. Positive business trends also were reported by ABB, Bosch Rexroth, and other exhibiting companies (see CE .)

International, U.S. presence

There is no doubt about Hannover Fair’s international appeal, as 2,885 companies (47%) came from outside of Germany. At 713,000 sq ft of displays, non-German companies also accounted for 32% of exhibition space. The top five countries with exhibitors (after Germany) were Italy with 449 companies, China (321), Russia (155), France (142), and Switzerland (141). The top-five order changed somewhat based on display space: Russia took second place in exhibit area with its special Partner Country exhibition (ahead of China), while Turkey (sixth in number of companies) moved up to fourth place on space.

American companies have traditionally enjoyed prominence at Hannover Industrial Fair. This year the official count of U.S. exhibitors was 104 spread over a little more than 20,000 sq ft of display space. However, as mentioned in previous reporting about this fair, U.S. companies have a far larger presence. Exhibits of numerous large U.S. companies are organized and managed by their European subsidiaries and, as a result, the statistics go into the respective countries’ columns.

Special exhibits, presentations

A noteworthy group exhibit—“Hydrogen + Fuel Cells”—brought together 117 international exhibitors and forum participants from 21 countries. With a display area of 3,000 square meters (32,000 sq ft), the 11th running of Hydrogen + Fuel Cells made it the largest and most international of all showcases dedicated to this highly topical issue, according to Arno A. Evers, owner and operator of the group exhibit. “The display was well received by the many exhibitors, visitors, and political delegations from every corner of the globe,” said Evers. Before close of the fair, 17% of this year’s exhibitors had already registered to take part in 2006, which will include the conference " Hydrogen and Fuel Cells on their way to commercialization ," on April 25, 2006 .

This group exhibit was part of a larger Energy fair held in three halls. Various energy technologies covered included alternative energy forms, such as wind turbines, solar, fuel cell, biogas, and photovoltaics.

Gerd Hoppe, corporate management at Beckhoff Industrie Elektronik , emphasized the company’s preference for incorporating higher intelligence on a central controller rather than undue focus on distributed control architectures. “It’s a case of separating necessary versus unnecessary distributed control,” he said. “The fewer controls in the field the better.” This was in reference to eliminating some potential problems of a distributed control design, such as ground potential shift that can arise, especially when networking together two different systems. With today’s CPU capabilities, one processor can integrate a complete solution using one software tool, he explained. More levels of intelligence have recently been added to EtherCat, the company’s version of industrial Ethernet, including more ways to communicate with MES and ERP systems.

In products, Hoppe mentioned Beckhoff’s substantial European presence in industrial PCs (IPCs), with 500 models currently available, including numerous custom designs. A new form factor C69xx Series IPC offers a 1 GHz CPU and comes in versions with and without fan cooling.

PLCopen announced a number of developments during its press conference. Safety in machine and automation systems is one of the organization’s newer activities, even as safety specs are “in a state of flux,” explained Eelco van der Wal, managing director of PLCopen. “Importance of error avoidance in machine safety is becoming fully realized,” he adds. PLCopen and associated safety organizations have defined safety functions within the IEC 61131-3 development environment that can be supported by dedicated software integrated into the overall development tools. The safety specification, which will merge with motion and logic functions, is at the comment stage and slated for first release in November 2005.

PLCopen also reported on progress of its Motion Control Specifications: Part 1 (Basics) is now at Version 1.1. It has been updated with a “homing” extension and capability to merge/blend function blocks. Part 2 (Extensions) has been updated with comments and is at official release 1.0. Part 5 (Homing) is a new document released for comments. It extends the homing functionality (links to spec Part 1), defines eight standared homing modes, and includes “homing on the fly,” according to van der Wal.

In April 2005, the organization released Version 1.0 of PLCopen XML (eXtensible Markup Language) specification. This document seeks to further open the development environment of IEC 61131-3 to additional software tools.

At Rockwell Automation ’s press conference, Urs T. Marti—director of market development for Rockwell’s EMEA [Europe, Middle East, Africa] region—emphasized the company’s initiatives in safety-based controls for automation and its industrial Ethernet protocol, called EtherNet/IP. He explained the solid basis of Rockwell’s integrated architecture on the Logix and Kinetix control product families. For example, the Logix model places one common executable engine between multiple hardware platforms. Among longer-term architectural trends, Marti cited integration of information, safety, security, and controls; peer-to-peer communications for flexible, fault-tolerant systems; multi-vendor compatibility enabled through software standards; and continued compliance with international regulatory standards. Rockwell EMEA currently has 50 facilities and 3,300 employees.

Enthusiasm at this year’s fair extended to entertainment provided for attendees. More acrobats, mimes, and other performers were evident. Some American showmanship also appeared here and there; for example, slot machines at the LAPP Group exhibit helped dramatize the company’s cable and wire products by spinning out “winning” product combinations for visitors working the “one-armed bandits.”

For additional coverage of Hannover Fair 2005, also visit

The next edition of Hannover Fair has already been scheduled for April 24-28, 2006. Interkama and Factory Automation will head next year's multiple fairs. For more information on visiting or exhibiting, click here .

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Frank J. Bartos, executive editor

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