Manufacturing Our Future: Hannover Messe 2016, a Turning Point in History

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 10:30 am EDT


Eric A. Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens USA

Hannover Messe is the world’s largest industrial technology trade fair and it is fitting that the United States is serving as this year’s partner country as the U.S. and Germany deepen and broaden cooperation in shaping the new age of industry – combining Germany’s engineering prowess with America’s leadership in software. Siemens has been a Hannover Messe exhibitor since the inaugural fair in 1947, and with investments of $35 billion in the U.S. over the past 15 years, Siemens plays an important role in advancing the future of U.S. manufacturing. To learn more and for expert insights, sign up for our blog and follow @SiemensUSA

When we heard the sad news about Prince last week, like a lot of people, I thought about the impact he had on the music industry. Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I appreciated a lot of the music by big stars such as Prince and also David Bowie, who died last year. As I get older, sometimes I wish that era of music never left, yet the music moves on.

With manufacturing, the reverse is true. We want to see the U.S. manufacturing sector move into the future. Yet most firms – even as some successfully embrace advanced software – are still running on technology that dates back to the year “When Doves Cry” by Prince was released. Manufacturers are looking at an aging infrastructure of nearly 35 years, according to ARC Advisory Group 2016 statistics, which means 3 out of 4 factories are 20+ years old. What will it take for the industrial sector to move forward in the world of technology?

Well, at Hannover Messe I’m seeing a lot of evidence that the digital enterprise is top of mind for every manufacturer. This is the largest industrial fair in the world, and the United States is debuting as partner country. Commerce Secretary Pritzker has led a delegation of more than 400 U.S. companies, and President Obama was here to open up the show with German Chancellor Merkel. All of this shows me that we are moving closer and not further away from the future of manufacturing.

Speaking with the Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker

When you walk through exhibition spaces here you can see very clearly that we are in the early stages of a Fourth Industrial Revolution – or what Germany refers to as Industry 4.0. This week the United States is showing that it’s ready to be a force in this industrial age. McKinsey estimates that if the U.S. were to fully embrace digitalization, it could boost GDP by up to $2.2 trillion by 2025, which implies that the opportunity for industry in America is massive. This is a sentiment that President Barack Obama touched on at the Siemens booth earlier this week.

“Siemens is a great company and we appreciate its presence in the United States,” said President Barack Obama at Hannover Messe on Monday. “Obviously, this kind of tailored and individualized production is becoming the norm; saving companies time and making customers happier.”

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Merkel visiting the Siemens booth

Joe Kaeser presents President Obama with a Callaway Golf club, designed with help from Siemens PLM software

We’re living in the digital age, and as technology advances so does industry. As manufacturing software becomes more sophisticated it has the capacity to revolutionize the industrial world. One day we’ll look back and point to this 2016 Hannover Messe as the year two industrial giants came together to lead a transition to smart factories.

Meeting with Lt. Governor Mary Taylor of my home state of Ohio