German Technology Day 2021: The Future of Canadian Automation
October 22, 2021
By: Owen Hurst
In today’s climate, staying connected and on top of the rapidly changing landscape in automation can be a daunting task. Information comes to us from a variety of sources and are not always delivered in a coherent and connected manner.
Tradeshows have long been a way for manufacturers and industry members to come together to connect, share ideas, see new products and solutions live, and hopefully walk away with some valuable connections and information.
This was the goal when German Technology Day in Canada first began. And it was born not only out of collaboration from German Companies, but from the experience gained from German Technology Shows.
Andreas Sobotta, GM of PILZ Canada notes that, “whoever had a chance to visit the Hanover trade show would have seen the huge number of high-tech German companies, especially in the Automation halls 9 and 11. When I was at the show in April 2018, I was thinking that we also should be able to showcase German Technology here in Canada.”
I was present at the Hanover show in Germany in 2018 and can attest to the value of connecting industry members through showcasing the advances being made in automation.
Natasha Gosine, Senior Marketing Manager, North America reflects on this direction when discussing Festo Canada’s position, “One of our goals is to educate GTD attendees on the investments being made into collaborating on automation solutions through different platforms. In today’s automation world, the ability to communicate electrically is almost universal with various vendors adopting each other’s communication protocol. Mechanically, the story is much the same as most companies can mount motors and gearboxes onto each other’s actuators using mounting brackets and axial kits. Educating our customers helps drive home the message that we are all working together towards the same goal.”
Collaborative efforts have long been seen in the German tech space as a necessary goal to advance industry. If the market grows and new technology is absorbed by users, that growth filters out through the collaborators that are driving the advancement.
Bob van den Berg, GM of Murrelektronik Canada, supports the goal of collaboration to provide education and resources within Canada which is growing but needs more partnerships such as those driving German Technology Day. Bob notes that “Stay Connected” is Murr’s motto and the focused trade show on German Automation expertise allows us to connect with our customers, providing customer journeys, live demos and industry expertise on how they can save 1/3 on their connectivity costs.”
However, he goes on to also identify the need for more collaboration and advancement of automation within Canada. “Canada lags the US by over 7k per employee in investment in automation and technology to improve productivity. The “old way” of relying on a lower Canadian Dollar is not a solution to increasing cost competitiveness or productivity. Partnering with German Technology Day allows us to promote proven solutions that allow Canadian businesses to close this gap.”
Growth in the Canadian automation sector is a key point among manufacturers that are focused on overall growth to the benefit of all. And Canada is primed for that explosion of growth that we are already seeing in some sectors.
Juliano Matias, GM of Wago Canada, expresses that, “Canada has room to grow in terms of its manufacturing capabilities. However, Canada is also a country with many skilled technical professionals available to lead that growth. WAGO and the GTD partners are fully committed to help enable that growth with leading edge German technologies that have helped Germany become the manufacturing powerhouse it is today.”
Anthony Morielli, Business Manager, Factory Automation for Bosch Rexroth Canada expressed nearly the same point when discussing the issue, stating that “there is a growing need for Canadian companies to increase the level of automation in their facilities and machinery. We believe that Canadian companies will benefit from the extensive knowledge, experience, and resources from the combined efforts of the GTD member companies. With our broad range of complimentary automation technologies, we can assist Canadian manufacturers, OEMs, and Integrators with the successful implementation of their automation projects.”
Juliano Matias (Wago) and Anthony Morielli (Rexroth) are expressing how collaborative efforts and manufacturers working together can drive change on a larger scale to support current automation firms and the growth of new ones.
We continue to note the need for collaboration, but it should really be about expanding collaborative efforts, as German Technology Day already showcases that support and growth of the industry is a focus in Canada and companies are coming together to direct and support national growth in automation.
Roland Younk, President of EPLAN Canada provides a good overview of this goal generally and when focusing on this year’s event, “I think we can propose through this event, a coherent vision for the industry in Canada. It’s a vision that relies on collaboration and integration and it’s a vision that has been embraced with success in other places around the world and Canada has enough talents and resources to become a much bigger player and implement best practices from industry 4.0 across the board. An event like the GTD puts on display how smart, safe, secured and connected our factories can be and these are important aspects if we want to increase the efficiency, the productivity and the competitiveness of our Canadian companies.”
Roland (EPLAN) expresses a perfect summation of the event and its focus, but we can dig beyond the overall goals and discuss the goals and benefits of some of the companies that must support the growth of the industry.
André Bousette, President, Rittal Systems Ltd., Canada explains that “Rittal was one of the founding partners of the German Technology Day, as we firmly believe in that German Automation has a long-lasting role to play in the Canadian manufacturing industry. Last year, Rittal was proud to have completed 25 years of service to our partners and customers in Canada, and the GTD is a strong testament of our on-going commitment to our industry.”
Andreas Sobotta (PILZ) made a point of noting that, “PILZ is a small company in Canada and not known as the world leader in safe automation, we know we can draw more people to the event when partnering with other similar companies – world leaders but relatively small in Canada. Furthermore, we focus on just a small part of the automation, and so do the others, but together, all of them are able to compete with larger multinational companies.”
Bob van den Berg (Murr) explained that “WAGO is one of the founding members and is focused on key partnerships to help provide automation users with a combined portfolio of products. Each partner in the GTD has their own key strengths which provides a well-rounded and diverse show for the audience.”
Bob makes a point here that must be stressed. The collaborative efforts put forward are not meant to be competitive in nature. It is about coming together to provide a full solution opportunity that focuses on the strengths of each of the partners. This is what has supported the growth of German Technology Days and continues to attract growing support from other manufacturers.
Anthony Morielli (Rexroth) highlights this when he notes that “German automation technology is highly respected by Canadian Industry. Being part of the GTD partnership enables us to collaborate with other Canadian based automation suppliers with German headquarters to showcase our innovative technologies to the Canadian market.”
And Natasha Gosine (Festo Canada) notes that “Festo is new to the partnership this year and we are excited to be part of this great event and build on and create new relationships within the automation community.”
Festo is a great example of how German Technology Day has grown to incorporate more German companies that operate globally but are still positioning themselves within the Canadian market as Andreas Sobotta previously noted.
There is an established vision and direction for German Technology Day that we have been presenting through the views of the partnership that has developed surrounding this event. And as a final piece to that puzzle, we will discuss what each of the partners bring to the table and how the goals and offerings of each have unified into a solution that supports the national growth of the automation sector in Canada.
André Bousette (Rittal) delivered a sweeping response that details the offerings of Rittal and the value they bring to the event. “From Rittal’s point of view, our Value Chain is our unique differentiator as we are confident of contributing to every stage of the manufacturing process: from design engineering, to manufacturing to automation. We want our customers to understand that we are here to serve their every need and work closely with them to offer them standardized or customized offerings, as required.”
André further noted that “This year, we intend to showcase that Rittal is ‘Wired for the Future’, in keeping with the GTD 2021 theme of ‘The Future of Automation: Safe, Secure & Connected.’ Most people are familiar with the fact that Rittal manufactures enclosures, but we offer so much more than that:
Rittal Automation Systems (RAS) is enhancing automation in control and switchgear engineering with some highly advanced automation equipment such as the Perforex machining centre and the efficient Wire Terminal WT, for the maximum efficiency of automated workshop processes, for today and the future.”
The Future of Automation is the goal of GTD 2021, and André sums up that focus very well above, and when discussing with each partner about the goals they hope attendees will walk away with the consensus was greatly on advancing knowledge of support and the future of automation Canada.
Bob Van der Berg (Murr) explains that “our goal is to provide attendees with knowledge and understanding that Murrelektronik is an Automation Partner with scalable solutions that can ‘Challenge the Way of Automation’”.
Andreas Sobotta (PILZ) hopes that attendees walk away with the “realization that they can get a full solution to their automation challenge by utilizing the expertise of the participating companies.”
Juliana Matias and Natasha Gosine took the considerations further, considering the national growth of automation in Canada is not only about growing automation infrastructure but also to ensure Canada is a global player in the automation market.
Natasha Gosine (Festo Canada)) hopes attendees gain awareness that “Automation and communication standards are increasing rapidly with the influence of global trade. Products built, assembled, or programmed in Canada can potentially be shipped anywhere around the world. This stimulates partnerships between industry peers, to be able to build and support these systems internationally and across different vendor platforms.”
Juliano Matias (Wago) explains that “Advancements in remote connectivity and automation technology are helping drive unprecedented levels of labour reduction through remote machine optimization. Harnessing these, and other technologies, are what will help Canadian manufacturers become more competitive in the global marketplace.”
Forward thinking beyond growth in our own backyard is essential to growth on a national and international level. And the companies that have hosted GTD 2021 are focused on providing an expanding Canadian market that will benefit all players. With that context, collaboration and support are critical to ensure continued growth in Canada.
Roland Younk (EPLAN) highlights this when he notes, “there is value in collaboration. Working together the partners of the GTD have put together an incredible event and we even show how much collaboration exists between all of us. The last year has proven to us that our success was a direct result of being better at recognizing and helping our clients solve their problems.”
To conclude, GTD 2021 is an event unlike traditional tradeshows. It is not focused solely on making sales or showcasing a new solution that betters your competitor, or about getting more booth visits than your neighbor. The goal here is to provide a safe place for forward thinkers to learn about collaborative solutions that will drive Canada forward in the automation space.
“The GTD member companies are highly motivated and eager to assist in bringing the Factory of the Future to Canadian companies, TODAY!” adds Marco-Jose Normandin (Rexroth) in summation, “Together, we can ensure the highest levels of safety, security, and inter-connectivity of devices and systems, from the control cabinet to mechatronic systems, and everything in between.”