Recap of the CircThread half-day event at the Hannover Messe 2024

On 22 April 2024, CircThread, an EU-funded project under the Horizon 2020 programme, had a notable presence at the Hannover Messe, hosted at the SmartFactory Kaiserslautern stand (Hall 8, Booth D18). The half-day event featured insightful discussions and presentations, as well as valuable networking opportunities, highlighting the project’s pivotal role in advancing circular economy solutions through digital innovation.

The event kicked off with a compelling presentation on CircThread by Jonas Brozeit. Jonas detailed the project’s objectives, achievements, and future plans, emphasizing how CircThread aims to revolutionise the circular economy by integrating Digital Product Passports (DPPs) and leveraging advanced data sharing in a decentralised, secure manner. The audience was captivated by the innovative approaches and real-world applications discussed, setting a positive tone for the rest of the day.

Following the presentation, Leonhard Kunz, Teresa Petzschke and Simone Wiegand led an engaging panel discussion on the topic of “DPP – Hindrance or Booster?” (see Figure 1). The discussion focussed on the challenges and opportunities of the circular economy offered by CircThread and KI4ETA, among others, and examined their potential to make information more easily accessible, improve the traceability of products and promote sustainability and resource efficiency. Panellists highlighted the importance of collaboration in overcoming barriers and maximising the benefits to a circular economy through the decentralised and secure data sharing.

Figure 1 Panel on “Digital product passport – Hindrance or Booster?” with L. Kunz, T. Petschke and S. Wiegand (ltr)

In addition to the CircThread half-day event, another part of the programme was the panel with the inventors of the term “Industry 4.0”, Prof. Dr Wolfgang Wahlster and Prof. Dr Henning Kagermann, together with Prof. Dr Martin Ruskowski. They shared visionary insights on the development of Industry 4.0, the production of the future and topics such as the Asset Administration Shell. Their discussion provided valuable context for understanding the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing and the broader implications for industrial transformation. Their presence attracted a large and engaged audience.

As the last point on the programme, Leonhard Kunz returned to the stage to give another talk with Simone Weigand. This time the focus was on recognising and exploiting energy-saving potential in factories with the help of AI, in particular through the project KI4ETA and its eponymous factory in Darmstadt. This format discussed how AI-driven solutions can optimise energy consumption, reduce operating costs and contribute to sustainability goals. It also demonstrated the tangible benefits of AI in industrial environments. The audience gained a deeper understanding of the intersection of AI and energy efficiency and emphasised the crucial role of smart technologies in achieving sustainable industrial processes, which should also be considered in a successful, sustainable circular economy.

Figure 2 Snapshot with visitor while talking about CircThread

During the event, a comprehensive networking session took place from 10:30 to 15:30 in parallel to the presentations and discussion rounds. This gave participants the opportunity to get in touch with CircThread and learn more about the benefits and approaches of CircThread (cf. Figure 2 & Figure 4). The project’s decentralised, secure approach to exchange data was particularly well received and demonstrates the future potential of modular, dynamic production.

In the course of the networking session, the CircThread team made contact with several prominent radio and television stations and specialist magazines such as and NDR, which significantly increased the visibility of the project. In addition, DFKI CEO Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger was interviewed by the major German TV station NTV/RTL, with the CircThread banner prominently displayed in the background (see. Figure 3). This illustrates the growing interest in the circular economy.

Figure 3 DFKI CEO A. Krüger in an interview

o summarise, the half-day CircThread event at Hannover Messe 2024 was a success that effectively showcasing the project’s innovative approaches. Lastly, we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved.

Figure 4 Exemplary Presentation of the CircThread pilot devices

Written by DFKI