Last month, I attended the Hanover Fair, billed as the world's largest industrial trade show, in Hanover, Germany. I won't dispute the "world's largest" statement because it's the biggest I've ever attended. It was eye-opening for lots of reasons, including the difference in German trade show culture vs. that seen in US trade shows.
I got the impression that the Germans believe that attending trade shows is part of their jobs, a way to meet with manufacturers, a way to stay abreast of the latest technologies, and so on. They block off the time for the pertinent events and attend like it's mandatory. Conversely, the Americans tend to attend the shows when they really have a current need for info, or they have nothing better to do (which is really never the case these days).
One topic that was very prevalent at the show was energy efficiency. Those words seemed to work their way into just about every conversation. Clearly, some form of energy efficiency has migrated from "nice to have" to "must have."
In one conversation with Bosch Rexroth, they told me they are trying to penetrate into countries where there simply isn't enough energy available to "do it the old way." So the choice comes down to finding a more energy-efficient method, or losing the business to a competitor. Clearly, they opted for the former.
As customers continue to ask for more efficiency with at least the same degree of productivity, Bosch Rexroth developed a strategy called For Energy Efficiency, or 4EE. Because Bosch uses the technique in its own facilities, it has a high level of confidence in the capabilities of 4EE. Basically, 4EE leverages the potential of all drive and control technologies to optimize across an application.
A meeting with Festo uncovered similar results. They believe that sustainable energy efficiency in automation requires a sophisticated concept that covers four areas: intelligent dimensioning, energy-efficient products and solutions, services, and training and consulting. The company has an ongoing internal training program to ensure that everyone within the company is up to speed on its latest and greatest techniques and technologies, which are then passed on to customers. The concepts are applied through the product lifecycle, from the initial design concept, and through delivery of the product, including training.
Throughout the Hanover Fair show, similar conversations were had, the only differences lying in the expertise of each vendor. Some saw their efficiencies through software, while others in various hardware techniques. But in the end, I didn't come across one vendor that didn't already have a strategy in place.