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„So, what’s new this year?“: 30 Years of Automation @ SPS fair

The SPS is one of the biggest and most important international fairs for electrical automation technology. I started my career at Siemens a few years before the fair’s debut in Sindelfingen in 1990. In 1997 the fair moved to Nuremberg and quadrupled its exhibition space from the original 3500 sqm to 14200. The fair now covered three halls instead of just one and had ample space to grow. For its 30th anniversary the SPS grew to 136000 sqm with more than 1600 exhibitors. Siemens first joined as exhibitor in 1991.

At the time, I had already become a product manager in the automation sector for Siemens, but it was not until a few years later when I took on the position of Head of Marketing for Automation Systems that I became involved with the SPS fair more closely as the Siemens booth manager. As the chief marketer for automation systems for me the SPS fair has been the joyfully awaited annual highlight for the last 14 years.


Siemens joined the SPS in 1991. For the 30th anniversary of SPS in 2020 Siemens fills the entire Frankenhalle, hall 11 of Nuremberg Messe

Meet the Siemens Experts @ SPS

The fair started as SPS IPC Drives, the name it went by up till its 29th edition in 2018. The initial acronym SPS stood for the most important product groups in electrical automation: Controllers, Industrial PCs and electrical drives and motors. So the old nomenclature lays the focus on the product hardware which has driven innovation for decades.

The SPS is a fair for technical engineers. The questions visitors ask can get quite tricky. That’s why we have our best Siemens experts with us at the fair, so we can answer even the most intricate of questions. The visitors love to come back each year to discuss their current projects with the experts and each time eagerly start with the same inevitable question: „So, what’s new this year?“

Trust the Process: Machine builders @ SPS

The biggest single visitor segment at the SPS fair are the machine builders. They challenge us with questions all about developing new production machines that work within a production process. This means …

  • Defining the required functionality of the machine within the production line
  • Considering the product design, product parts (bill of material) and production steps (bill of processes)
  • Defining machine flexibility scope for producing product variants
  • Designing the machine (mechanical design, electrical design)
  • Controlling the machine movements (kinematics, motion control, safety function)
  • Designing the man-machine-interface for the machine operators
  • Defining important machine data (performance, quality, downtime, …)
  • Implementing data interfaces into the production (receive recipes or calculate KPIs)
  • Defining maintenance and upgrade scenarios
  • And…and….and…

Quite a challenging process, as you can imagine. Would you go for best-of-breed tools and products for each of these steps? And take care of the integration along those steps by yourself? Or would you go for an integrated solution, based on engineering platforms and common data bases?

SPS IPC Drives becomes SPS: ‚Smart Production Solutions‘

For its 30th anniversary this year, the SPS IPC Drives fair has been subject to a rebranding. It is now simply the SPS. The same acronym now stands for ‚Smart Production Solutions‘. In the past decade Siemens has been the chief innovation leader behind major changes of the automation industry. With ‚Digital Enterprise’, the holistic approach to digital transformation of the industry, Siemens is continuing to be a trendsetter.

The digital twin

Digital twins open up a vast new field of simulative design possibilities that would have priorly required building prototypes and testing through trial and error.

It is now a lot more about innovative data-based software solutions and interconnected AI-optimized shop floor equipment. With its advances into ever more accurate virtual simulations of reality the gaming industry became the forerunner for digital simulation technology in the manufacturing industry. The digital twin now even enables smaller businesses to automate their production, design machines or implement adapted machine set-ups to accommodate model changes, product variants and customizations within a virtual model. The whole process from idea to realization is empowered and greatly accelerated by digital twin solutions.

Machine data and industrial security

Another trend which will greatly impact the future of automation concerns the collection, analysis and availability of machine data. This data can be used to optimize operational reliability, plan downtimes for predicted maintenance and manage automation globally across factory boundaries. As we all know from discussions around smart phone, new data-centred business models raise questions about data ownership and data security. This is also true for our industrial customers. One important pillar of our Digital Enterprise concept is Industrial Security to help our customers to make this complicated topic easier to manage.

The Siemens experts speak: the SPS blog series on Ingenuity

Leading up to the first rendition of the SPS fair as Smart Production Solutions‘ for its 30th anniversary from November 26th to 28th 2019 at Nuremberg, we will let some of our Siemens experts speak and share their insights in personal blogs. Together these blogs make up a whole series related to the upcoming fair and each will highlight a different topic related to current and future developments in the automation industry.

They cover such diverse topics as …

So, for those of you who can’t make it to the fair in person, this is a great opportunity to meet up with Siemens experts in the virtual realm of the Ingenuity blog platform. You can even ask them the same intricate questions and there’s a good chance you’ll get some fine answers.

Of course, I’d be all the more delighted to greet many of you in person at our booth in hall 11 at the SPS in Nuremberg and together with our team of Siemens experts provide you with answers to that unavoidable question: „So, what’s new this year?“

Follow this link for free tickets and more information about the SPS fair and stay tuned for updates on the SPS blog series on Siemens Ingenuity via my LinkedIn profile.