Clarity in Uncertain Times

EMO Hannover 2019 closed its doors following a six-day run. From 16 to 21 September, round about 117,000 production specialists from 150 countries convened at the world’s leading tradeshow for the metalworking industry. “This EMO Hannover 2019 built on the success of our boom year in 2017,” reported EMO general commissioner Carl Martin Welcker. He continued: “In the context of subdued economic expectations over the past several months, the moderate decline in attendance has to be viewed as a success. We are particularly delighted at the further increase in the percentage of foreign attendees.” The mood in the halls was positive, with many exhibitors pleasantly surprised at the high volume of visitor traffic at their stands. “EMO Hannover has once again proved solid as a rock, providing clarity for the further development of production technology, even in uncertain times,” Welcker added. Its trademarks included a strong international character, a high caliber of visitors and exhibitors, and an amazing wealth of innovations and new products, he stressed. As the world’s leading metalworking fair, it was the “place to be”.

Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, CEO of the event-organizing association VDW (left), and Carl Martin Welcker, EMO general commissioner, looking back on a successful EMO Hannover 2019. (Source: VDW)

At the start of EMO Hannover, there was some worry about the news that many customers were cutting their travel budgets. Yet the percentage of company executives among tradeshow attendees was about as high as two years ago, at 58 percent. Around half of these came armed with capital investment plans, and for foreign visitors, this figure was even higher, at more than 62 percent. 25 percent of attendees actually placed orders during the fair or planned to do so in the near future. And a further 20 percent intended to spend money downstream from the fair.

As the flagship fair for its sector of industry, EMO Hannover has a strong international profile. More than half of all attendees came from abroad, split almost evenly between other European countries and overseas. A twenty percent growth in attendance from overseas in comparison with the 2017 event was particularly impressive. This included a high percentage of Asian guests, who accounted for almost one third of visitors from abroad, with China, Japan, Taiwan and India heading the rankings. This trend was clearly related to a higher number of Asian exhibitors at this year’s event, who encouraged their customers to visit them in Hanover. Other countries with strong representation at the event included Italy, Poland, Sweden, Russia and Turkey.

Digitalization and automation gathering momentum

As an innovations platform for production technology, EMO is expected to chart the trends for the years ahead, and once again the mission was successful. The EMO motto “Smart technologies driving tomorrow’s production” accurately reflected the key issues facing the industry today. “Our many discussions with customers at EMO 2019 in Hanover revealed that a focus on the holistic process chain, including digital services, creates the relevant added value for customers,” said Christian Thönes, chairman of the executive board at DMG Mori. This feeling was shared across all exhibitor segments, and the buzzwords of IoT platforms, apps, digital twins, artificial intelligence (AI), edge and cloud computing were omnipresent at the fair.

This all served to highlight just how much has changed since the most recent event two years ago. Particularly in Hall 9, the domains of research and practice came together. This blend of research and industry attracted large visitor numbers from around the world. “We have made many new contacts, and the ideas garnered from talking to all these people will hopefully feed into future research projects,” commented Prof. Berend Denkena, president of the Academic Association for Production Technology (WGP) and head of the Institute for Production Technology and Machine Tools (IFW). “One clear conclusion from all this is that digitalization and automation will chart our path into the future, you can see that right here at EMO Hanover,” he added.

This year’s EMO also featured the first AI applications in the Start-up area and at the stands of the relevant trailblazing companies. Along with the strong inter-est in AI and machine learning, visitors’ appetite for future visions was reflected in the accompanying events and forums, where the topics included not only AI, but also additive processes, the industrial internet of things (IIoT), 5G and not least OPC UA or umati, the new standard interface between machine tools and overarching IT systems. The standout attraction consisted of the big umati showcase, which included 110 machines from 70 international firms and partners, demonstrating for the first time that the universal interface between machines and IT systems can function across all product types. According to umati project manager Dr. Alexander Broos, “the response to umati among our partners and customers has been huge. This display at EMO has successfully launched us on the market. Our next commission on returning home is to deliver the OPC UA Companion Specification at the earliest possible date.”

“Against all expectations, we can wrap up EMO Hannover 2019 on a positive note. The fair is attractive for the entire international production technology community and has confirmed there is still demand for capital investment in the marketplace. In spite of all the political turmoil, this trade fair has revealed that industry is actively addressing the challenges of the future and is determined to make its contribution as a problem solver,” concluded Welcker.

The next EMO will be staged in Milan from 4 to 9 October 2021. (Source: VDW)

Link: EMO Hannover, Verein Deutscher Werkzeugmaschinenfabriken e.V. (VDW), Frankfurt am Main, Germany

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