Digital Hub at ACHEMA: A new hotspot for the digital ecosystem
The process industries are going digital – and they need specialized partners to get the best out of digitalization, big data and artificial intelligence. This is why ACHEMA 2021 is introducing the Digital Hub – a place for digital players and process industry experts alike. With a new, integrated event concept, developed in league with key players from the digital sphere, it brings the digital transformation to the heart of ACHEMA.
The chemical, pharma and food industries are introducing more and more digital aspects in their plants and processes. Not least, they are building on plant automation to bring digitalization to the next level with predictive maintenance, flexible production and new digital business models. “To be able to use this potential, however, a close exchange between industrial companies and providers of digital solutions is essential. The Digital Hub offers the perfect framework for this,” said Dr. Klaus Schäfer, CTO of German chemical producer Covestro.
As the process industry is striving to exploit the new opportunities, the digital ecosystem is developing solutions that are tailor-made for its requirements. Companies such as Microsoft, PTC or Schuller & Company combine understanding for the specific needs of their customers with long-standing digital expertise and cutting-edge solutions in fields such as data mining, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. “Taking the chance of transition means enabling new business models and fundamentally rethinking the entire manufacturing value chain,” said Melanie Weber, Industry Executive at Microsoft Deutschland GmbH.
Interaction and inspiration
The Digital Hub brings both perspectives together, enabling the forging of new business links and the development of novel ideas in an inspiring atmosphere. “Digital technologies are often recognized as complex and difficult to understand” said Bernd Möller, Founder and CEO of MYNXG. Close interaction between service providers and users is therefore essential. The Digital Hub facilitates this by providing more than an additional exhibition area: To promote interaction, a new concept integrates an exhibition with a center stage that offers space for presentations and discussions. And while visionary ideas are welcome, an emphasis lies on the here and now: “That’s what a fair like ACHEMA is ideally suited for: IT meets process industry, but please: hands-on and with proven feasibility in our brownfield plants” said Dr. Felix Hanisch, Chairman of NAMUR e.V. and Head of Industrial Automation at Bayer AG.
The concept of the Digital Hub at ACHEMA 2021 has been developed in close conjunction with renowned experts and challenged in a Round Table that involves global digital players as well as industry experts from associations. Four dedicated access points focus on logistics and supply chain, research and innovation, cyber security as well as engineering and operations. The Digital Hub showcases digital solutions such as cloud and infrastructure offerings, software and tech tools while at the same time providing the opportunity for networking and matchmaking. The offering will be complemented by guided tours, break-out talks and demos.
Gaining competitive edge
The process industries have always been confronted with the need to handle large amounts of data – be it from high-throughput technologies in the lab or to meet the increasing requirements of process intensification. Having mastered these challenges, it has moved towards “intelligent” or “smart” equipment which is highly flexible, automated and creates decentralized data landscapes. According to Dr. Henrik Hahn, Chairman of the VCI Working Group Digitalization and Chief Digital Officer of Evonik Industries AG “business is changing, industry boundaries are dissolving, industry 4.0 is entering a new phase of high connectivity and high data availability. Bringing operation technology and information technology together becomes ever more important and remains a challenge.”
Now, the next step is imminent: Making predictions based on data mining, employing artificial intelligence to run and design processes and integrating production with the whole supply chain. As Helmut Schuller, Founder and CEO, Schuller & Company, said “Digitalization is great! But what if the necessary data is hidden in silos, inaccessible to those who need it most?” To bridge these gaps, new architectures and standards are required that offer joint data formats and allow for flexibility and interaction both within the plant and beyond. Besides chemical and pharmaceutical producers and digitalization experts, a third group plays a crucial role: “With their innovative products and digital solutions, our manufacturers of measurement technology and process automation ensure that process equipment and plants can produce quickly, flexibly and efficiently” said Nikolaus Krüger, Chairman Measurement and Process Automation at ZVEI and Member of the Board of Endress+Hauser Group.
Meeting these challenges is essential for future business success. In times of global challenges and global competition, digital abilities are an essential asset. Whereas global warming influences what is done, “digitalization changes the way how things are done in R&D, business and operations. It is obvious that only the fastest and most adaptive players will win” said Dr. Wolfram Stichert, CEO of hte GmbH.
Creating a point of culmination
The Digital Hub serves as a central meeting point and home of companies specializing in digital offerings. According to Reda Mostafa, Business Development Director at PTC, “the establishment of a Digital Hub comes at the right time to address the digital challenges thematically, while providing the opportunity for us all to deepen and expand existing networks.” At the same time, it provides access to the digitalization trends that are characteristic for many current developments in the process industries and visible all over ACHEMA throughout all exhibition groups. Exhibitors who are located within their specific groups can book a spin-off in the Digital Innovation Zone to put their digital offerings in the spotlight.
The Digital Hub also interlinks with the three focal topics of ACHEMA 2021 “The digital lab”, “Product and process security” and “Modular and connected production” which are all driven by the progressing digitalization.