I was invited by Inadem and ProMexico to form part of the Mexican mission to the Hannover Messe 2018 fair where Mexico was the partner country. A first for Latam and the Spanish speaking business world.
What is all the fuss about “Industrie 4.0?
“Industrie 4.0” is a national strategic initiative for pushing forward digital transformation from the German government developed by the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWI). It aims to drive digital manufacturing forward by increasing digitization and the interconnection of products, value chains and business models. Industrie 4.0 was promoted in 2011 as the central theme of the Hannover Fair.
Fast forward to 2018 and this year was all about “Connect and Collaborate”. During the inauguration, Dra Angela Merkel spoke about “The future of Industry”; leveraging Self learning Robots, the imminent impact of artificial intelligence on the factory environment and E-Mobility (driverless, assisted, e-vehicles).
The close integration of production and logistics was a key topic in the CeMAT halls – unsurprisingly, since the digital factory simply cannot work without intelligent logistics systems. Product highlights included industrial trucks and order-picking robots but interestingly I could not spot many transport innovations beyond autonomous vehicles.
For those that have attended an event at Centro Banamex, Hannover Messe dwarfs Mexico Cities’ 21,000m2 25 times over, with almost 500,000 m2 of floor space. Out of a total of 210 000 visitors at the fair, more than 70,000 of them came from abroad, for an international share of 30 percent. China headed the foreign visitor statistics with a total of 6,500. A total of 160 companies and 1,400 visitors attended from Mexico.
The German Mexican Business Summit
The German Mexican Business Summit was a joint forum promoted by the BDI and CCC. After a round of introductions from Presidents Merkel and Peña there was a panel on Value Chains and Competitiveness.
Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens, took up the theme of robotics and strategic positing along the value chain. It is not “how you produce” much more “what you produce”.
Andreas Renschler, VW Board Member and CEO Truck and Buses emphasized the need for a strong communications backbone. That he often has blackouts taking the 250Km drive from VW headquarters in Wolfsburg to Berlin. Something he has not experienced in Mexico where “Todo México es territorio Tel… well… at least 4G”.
“Digitalization will not be stopped by individual countries” states Cemex CEO, Fernando González.
With respect to NAFTA, Mr. Renschler said that the levels of cooperation between firms from both countries have created “intense” value chains, which will be difficult to break in the event of changes in the trade agreement. “The cooperation of German and Mexican companies must continue despite the results of NAFTA,” he said. Joe Kaeser went further, stating that the “demographic bonus is even more important than NAFTA”, since Mexico – where 130,000 engineers graduate every year – enjoys “an important base” of young people who can change the country’s industrial future.
There was general agreement that Mexico is no Venezuela and the democratic process has to run it’s course.
That took us to lunchtime of the opening day. In the next post “X Marks the Spot”, I will summarize Mexico’s participation as guest country and the key innovations from the fair.