HAHN Automation, a Rethink Robotics distribution partner based in Germany, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. As the founder and CEO, Thomas Hähn has played a key role in the success of the company, and in this position he was able to experience the development of the automation industry in Germany. In this guest blog post, he outlines the key developments and trends that have made factory automation in the country a success in the last 25 years, and gives an outlook on current topics that are shaping the industry.
For 25 years, vision, passion and innovation have shaped our actions at HAHN Automation to achieve the unforeseen. This anniversary is not only a reason to celebrate – moreover, it is also a reason to look back on the achievements of production in Germany during that time and see what developments currently are its driving force. The industry has experienced tremendous changes, as these 25 years were a defining period shaped by automation and, in recent years, by the constant drive towards manufacturing robotics and digitalization.
All those trends have had an enormously positive effect on the market and were one of the reasons why Germany again has the title of export world champion. But how did this development happen? What were the driving factors behind that success making our country one of the most advanced locations for the production industry worldwide?
Looking back on the last 25 years and the vast experiences we at HAHN made during that period, I clearly see various factors that made Germany the perfect place for developing innovative automation concepts. When we started the dominant aspects shaping production in Germany clearly were work efficiency and cost savings. Compared to many other countries Germany had and still has relatively high labor costs. Therefore, to keep production in the country, the industry needed to be more innovative and move ahead faster and automation was the key to that. However, by now, other countries followed our example and this is why the next step was necessary.
Nowadays, a new wave of innovation in automation is necessary to keep production in Germany thriving, make it more innovative and give production companies the ability to try new things faster. The reason for this is the lack of personnel in Germany. Contrary to many news reports in the media, industrial automation generates jobs instead of destroying them. This fact also has been acknowledged by trade unions. They and many others just cannot neglect the fact that not only has automation heavily increased during the last 25 years, employment rates in Germany have also risen enormously.
The next level in this development definitely is the cobot, a smart, collaborative robot intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace. Cobots have integrated intelligence, can safely interact with their human colleagues and are easily programmed by anybody. This is a huge advancement compared to “traditional” manufacturing robots. Electronics, data and the availability of robots have changed the face of the industry in the last 25 years, as they have made production much more flexible. Production lines used to be machines that did the same tasks 24/7. With cobots, the industry now has become much more flexible and can cater to changes as it has become easy to reprogram this innovation.
These factors – intelligence, flexibility and not to forget the safety for the workforce – currently are the most important aspects to keep production in Germany on the forefront of the worldwide development. This is why we at HAHN are looking forward to the next successful 25 years in which we and our partners will closely work together to keep pushing the industry forward and together achieve the unforeseen.
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About the Author
Thomas Hähn (52) ist CEO der HAHN Group, dem weltweiten Spezialisten für Automatisierungs- und Roboterlösungen mit Sitz in Rheinböllen, Rheinland Pfalz. 1992 als Konstruktionsbüro gegründet, ist die Hahn Group heute mit 17 Tochterunternehmen in mehreren Ländern weltweit vertreten. Neben seiner Tätigkeit als CEO der HAHN Goup ist er u.a. auch Vorsitzender der Fahrzeug-Initiative Rheinland Pfalz. Thomas Hähn hat einen Abschluss als Diplom-Maschinenbauer der FH Wiesbaden.