When Manufacturing Got a Brain: Industry 4.0 at Hannover Messe 2011

History was made at the Hannover Messe 2011 in Germany with the public introduction of the term “Industry 4.0.”

This concept represents the fourth industrial revolution, focusing on smart manufacturing processes through advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, cloud computing, machine learning, and digital twins.

The aim is to establish smart factories where machines and systems can autonomously improve processes through automation and self-optimization.

The genesis of Industry 4.0 was the German government’s High-Tech Strategy, initiated in 2006 to promote the digitalization of manufacturing. This strategy aimed to reinforce Germany’s leadership in advanced manufacturing solutions.

A collaborative effort involving government officials, engineers, business leaders, and academics led to the development of the High-Tech Strategy 2020, launched in 2010.

Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, director and CEO of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, played a pivotal role in popularizing the term Industry 4.0 during his opening speech at the 2011 Hannover Fair.

The concept gained further support from the Industry Science Research Alliance and various German industry groups. In 2013, they presented a final report from the Working Group on Industry 4.0, providing strategies and recommendations for its implementation.

Reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the event in 2021, Wahlster said, “The concept rapidly spread virally around the world and is in use today, similar to the terms ‘kindergarten’ and ‘autobahn’ in their association with Germany.”

In 2024, Industry 4.0 continues to be a focal point for manufacturers worldwide, driving innovation and sustainability.

The upcoming Hannover Messe 2024 in April is expected to attract about 130,000 attendees globally.