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Hannover Fair Opens With Talk of Industrie 4.0, Transformation in India

Posted By David Brousell, April 13, 2015 at 3:56 AM, in Category: Factories of the Future

Modi.jpgFrom small packaging companies to the largest diversified industrial giants, to the opening ceremony speech at the 68th Hannover Fair yesterday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the idea of Industrie 4.0, the expected next wave of progress in manufacturing based on digitization and Internet connectivity, is permeating the vast halls and thousands of exhibitors at this week’s Hannover Fair, the world’s largest annual gathering of industrial companies.

Last night at the stately Hannover Congress Center, Merkel talked about the “digital integration” of industry and said the federal German government is committed to Industrie 4.0 as its “digital agenda.” She also said there will be a “Make in Germany” initiative, a direct reference to the Make in India program launched last year by the government of Narendra Modi and the major focus for India at Hannover as the partner country at the fair.

In his own remarks delivered before Merkel’s, Modi said the Make in India program is designed to accelerate India’s economic growth and create jobs for India’s population, 72% of which is below the age of 32. He said India will pursue the program based on its own strengths, but that it would be more successful through partnerships with other countries.

In a statement that surprised some in the audience, however, Modi pointedly said that India “has no special bias” for Germany as that partner, despite the fact that Germany’s trading volume in India, according to Merkel, is at 16 billion Euros, a sum which makes Germany India’s leading trading partner in the European Union. “We are open to embrace the whole world,” Modi said.

He also made a point of emphasizing that the Make in India program is far from just a slogan and does, in fact, represent a transformation on a “vast scale” in India. To accomplish the program, Modi said that India needs to move with “speed, resolve and boldness” to create a stable economic environment that encourages confidence within India and abroad, remove unnecessary regulations and simplify procedures, and devise a “stable” tax regime. He said his highest priority is “creating a world-class infrastructure” that will provide the basis for economic growth and job creation. (See Can “Make in India” Make a Global Difference? http://mlawarcs.gilcommunity.com/blog/can-make-india-make-global-difference/).

 But he also clearly acknowledged last night that the “vast transformation” he is undertaking is not going to be easy.

“It is easy to change policies and write new laws,” he said before the packed Congress Center. “It is not easy to change attitudes. The scale of transformation is vast, the opportunities are huge. Can we turn the potential into reality?”

He expressed confidence that the “winds of change” are at India’s back and that the success of the Make in India program – progress for “one-sixth of humanity,” as he put it -- would not only benefit India, but the entire world as well.

India’s footprint at Hannover this week, consisting of 350 Indian companies exhibiting here, is a big step for the country and will no doubt leave a significant impression on the other 6,500 exhibitors from 65 countries showing their products and innovations.

As it does, Germany, the United States, other European countries and others will move ahead with their own manufacturing growth initiatives and programs, many of which are focusing on that next wave of manufacturing prowess through digitization and the Internet.

Germany has its Industrie 4.0, the U.S. has its Smart Manufacturing initiative, other countries and organizations use the label of Manufacturing 4.0. This week at Hannover, for example, the German government will be launching its Industrie 4.0 platform.

But whatever you call it, the bottom line is that the stakes in global manufacturing competition have clearly risen, and success will no doubt be driven in large part by the adoption and use of advanced technologies to further automate production processes through the intelligent use of information derived from increased connectivity and data analysis.

Will India need to embrace its own form of Manufacturing 4.0 is the days ahead? It surely has plenty of work to perform right now to transform itself and establish the Make in India program, but don’t be surprised to start hearing about India’s digital future in the days ahead.

The world of manufacturing is changing and India is determined to be a big part of it.    


Written by David Brousell

Global Vice President, General Manager and Editorial Director of the Manufacturing Leadership Council

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