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No trade show due to the current development of the pandemic

Right up until towards the end of October, the organisers of the FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering were optimistic that they would succeed in staging not just a successful and informative fair but also one where people would be safe. Over 300 exhibitors had been looking forward to resuming their trade show activities, with pleasing developments in the number of visitor registrations.

However, the sharp increase in infections has brought about a dramatic change to this vision. The organisers have acted in a timely manner and offered the exhibitors the opportunity to transfer their booking to the FMB 2021. The good news is that almost all of them have taken up this offer,  which means that there is already a very strong exhibitor base for the FMB 2021. This approach has been confirmed by the lockdown now imposed on the trade show business. 

The next FMB will take place in the established manner from 10–11 November 2021, with the addition of new hybrid formats.

Exhibitors and interested parties can avail themselves of the international cooperation fair of the B2B matchmaking service. It is being organised by the NRW Bank and ZENIT GmbH in the NRW Europa Network in association with the district business development agency “Kreiswirtschaftsfoerderung Lippe”. Access thereto will remain open on the FMB website,  the matchmaking process for establishing business contacts will take place entirely digitally. 


Four weeks to go until the start of the fair

Some of the first trade shows like the ones “all about automation” in Essen and Chemnitz have shown that regional industrial fairs of a manageable size are achievable, they are safe, and the visitors come and feel at ease there. This is not something that can be taken for granted. For this reason, the “makers” of the FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering – have outlined seven reasons below for coming to the event:


The major industrial fairs scheduled for the autumn of 2020 will not be taking place due to the pandemic. However, there is a great need for discussions and the exchange of ideas within the “industrial community”, and change also occurs at a rapid pace. Therefore, a trade show like FMB as a communication platform is all the more important right now.


This applies to the exhibitors: They have been developing innovations they now wish to showcase. This has only been possible to a limited extent since March 2020. Now, they will finally get the opportunity to do so.


It also applies, however, to potential visitors to the fair. They require inspiration and proposals to optimise their products and their production. Such visits frequently result in the initiation of innovations and their implementation by the suppliers. There will be ideas and solutions to this end at the FMB – across the entire spectrum of the supply industry in the field of mechanical and plant engineering.


The hygiene concept developed jointly by the Easyfairs Group and SGSgroup – the world’s leading provider of certification services – is safe and has meanwhile been put to the test, including at the “all about automation” fairs held in Essen and Chemnitz.     


The touch-free exchange of contact details is made possible by the “Easy go” system in the case of which the admission ticket communicates with an NFC reader located at the booth. And the new platform “B2B Matchmaking” enables a targeted search for suppliers and customers in the run-up to the show. Christian Enßle, Head of Cluster FMB: In doing so, it is possible to limit the number of personal contacts for both sides – exhibitors and suppliers alike, without reducing the amount of information offered at the fair or restricting the opportunity to establish contacts.”


The FMB provides visitors with a look ahead to the future and in greater depth. Major issues such as Industry 4.0 and digitalisation will be addressed at the joint stand of the leading-edge cluster using practical examples from research and industry. Individual specialist topics, including digitalisation and surface technology, will be enlarged upon in the programme of lectures held on all three days of the show.


The entire spectrum of suppliers to companies operating in the field of mechanical and plant engineering will be on site: global players just as much as regional “hidden champions” and local specialists of the supply industry. A visit is thus compact and efficient. The “Easy Entry” concept is also a contributing factor: The distances at the show are short, costs are kept to a minimum. Visitors can go to to register free of charge and in advance (for one of six time slots, each in the morning or afternoon on one of the three days of the show).


A look ahead to the FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering

Today, hardly any mechanical engineering company can manage without suppliers offering precision metal parts. At the FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering, visitors have the opportunity to establish contacts with specialists operating in this demanding field of metalworking.

Three examples: The company Loll Feinmechanik GmbH from Tornesch is among the exhibitors at the FMB from this field of expertise. It manufactures entire systems for sophisticated industries such as medical technology, aeronautical engineering, the oil and gas industry and mechanical engineering.

Schwichtenberg GmbH based in Lemgo also machines to the highest of quality standards and is specialised in the production of very small components. This does not only apply to the traditional materials aluminium and steel but also, for instance, to titanium and magnesium as well as metal components with a particularly high-quality finish as is required in the case of medical products.

A further expert in the field of high-end machining is the company Poggengerd GmbH in Marienfeld. As a contract manufacturer for high-precision requirements, it produces components in temperature-controlled rooms using state-of-the-art CNC machines for industries including mechanical engineering, tool and die making, hydraulics and medical technology. The focus here is often on simultaneous 5-axis complete machining in a clamping operation with the aid of powered tools.

In doing so, Poggengerd also serves as a link to the subject of surface technology as a new focal issue at the FMB. The company is proficient in a wide variety of grinding processes, including ones of a very sophisticated nature.

How does a visitor to the FMB meet the machinists that match his requirements? There are three possibilities: He talks to them in person at the exhibition stand. Or he holds his Smart Badge, which he received at the entrance, up against the reading device at the stand, thereby allowing the contact-free exchange of company details.

The third and new option: The visitor makes use of “B2B Matchmaking” prior to the FMB, which the trade show organiser is arranging in association with several partners (NRW.BANK, ZENIT GmbH, Netzwerk NRW.Europa and Kreiswirtschaftsförderung Lippe). He registers on the matchmaking platform (, provides a brief presentation of his company, and describes his requirements or actively looks for suitable suppliers himself. If both parties are interested in establishing contact, a 20-minute one-on-one discussion is organised for them in the designated matchmaking area in Hall 21.  

Christian Enßle, Head of Cluster FMB of Easyfairs Deutschland GmbH: “This new matchmaking approach brings together the online world with “live” discussions in optimal fashion as it increases the success rate for really beneficial discussions as well as the efficiency of trade show attendance – both for the exhibitors and for the visitors. We are intrigued to see to what extent people will avail themselves of this service.”


The hygiene and safety concept of the FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering

The concept has been finalised: The organisers of the FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering have established the basis for implementing the trade show in compliance with hygiene requirements. It goes without saying that the concept which has now been submitted also satisfies the requirements of the corona protection regulation of the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia. Christian Enßle, Head of Cluster FMB of Easyfairs Deutschland GmbH: “We are able to implement these requirements from a technical point of view without the slightest hesitation as they are already in line with our current standards.”

Moreover, the special concept of the trade show also creates favourable conditions for observing social distancing regulations.  “Although the entire spectrum of the mechanical engineering supply industry is represented at the FMB, the visitors do not come to the event from all corners of the world. The number of exhibitors in relation to visitors is balanced and we are well able to ensure that social distancing is maintained.”

This year, this also involves an online registration for one of six slots (in the mornings or afternoons in each case on the three days of the show).  Christian Enßle: “By doing so, we guarantee that the maximum number of 3,000 people is not exceeded at any time, and that each visitor coming to the event also obtains admission.” The number of visitors at the show is recorded automatically and electronically.
Online registration with rapid admission, marked walkways, signs indicating which direction to walk in and catering facilities set up over a larger area and with offers adapted to the current situation. In addition, a sufficient amount of disinfectant for hand hygiene will be available at each stand, as well as in common areas and sanitary facilities.  Furthermore, the contact surfaces in the sanitary facilities and in common areas will be disinfected on a regular basis.

The new “EasyGo” system enabling the contact-free exchange of contact details between the exhibitor and the visitors also meets the hygiene requirements.  Visitors arriving at the show will receive a smart badge with an RFID chip. Each stand at the fair is equipped with a corresponding reading device which links the visitor to the exhibitor when he holds his badge up against the exhibitor’s device. Christian Enßle: This device was already developed prior to the corona pandemic and is beneficial quite apart from this virus-related situation. For instance, at the end of the day of the fair the visitors receive a mail from us containing a list of all the exhibitors whose reading devices they activated. This thus enables them to easily review their discussions and, where desired, to continue the communication with the exhibitors.”

The organisers are already looking forward to the start of the fair. Christian Enßle: “We have already received many positive signals from exhibitors and visitors. They miss engaging in face-to-face discussions and they also miss the ideas and the aha effects which trade shows convey so well.  We are doing and will continue to do everything in our power to make the FMB a successful and – at the same time – safe industrial trade show and we are optimally prepared!”  


Surface technology completes the exhibition programme

Each component of a machine has a surface. These surfaces often need be specially protected, treated or finished – by means of processes such as painting or varnishing, powder coating, galvanising, zinc plating, blasting …

Mechanical engineering companies either have the corresponding systems at their disposal or work together with enterprises providing surface technology services. This year, for the first time, the FMB will be demonstrating the current trends and will show which efficient partners lend themselves to such collaboration: Surface technology is a new focal point of the FMB 2020.

In doing so, the organiser is implementing a logical step. Christian Enßle, Head of Cluster FMB: “We have noticed that an increasing number of exhibitors now offer services in surface technology in particular – whether exclusively or as part of their portfolio. They are provided with an enhanced platform for their attendance at the show and we are also in a position to appeal to new, potential exhibitors in targeted fashion.”

The exhibition has an eye on several target groups. Producers of equipment, e.g. for painting and powder coating can present their range of products to a knowledgeable audience at the FMB. The show also addresses manufacturers of consumables such as bath chemicals and from the periphery such as filtration systems and exhaust air units.

In particular, the organisers of the FMB have an eye on the numerous service providers in the wider region who offer surface technology – ranging from pre-treatments and corrosion protection to “traditional” processes such as painting and powder coating right through to sophisticated processes like plasma coating. Christian Enßle: “The spectrum here is wide, the suppliers are highly qualified, yet the market is somewhat obscure. It is our objective to create visibility and to bring together supply and demand in this field of the supply industry as well.”

The trade show can score with its special concept. “We offer the exhibitors a complete package including furniture, catering and a marketing package. Therefore all they need to bring with them are their exhibits and information materials. This is a real benefit for smaller companies in particular as their marking resources can often be rather limited.” An additional benefit and a real value-added for exhibitors and visitors: Surface technology will also be a focal issue of the lecture programme in which the current trends in the individual subject areas will be presented.  


Regionalisation rather than globalisation?

For many companies operating in the field of mechanical engineering, it was not only the sales markets that took a hit at the beginning of the pandemic – the supply chains were also subject to severe disruptions as well. In particular, cross-border deliveries – whether from China or “just” those from France – were either no longer possible at all or only with delays, and the maintenance or restoration of the supply chains was among the most urgent tasks faced by management. Basing their actions along the lines of “lessons learned”, buyers and directors will, therefore, be addressing the issue as to whether procurement needs to be reassessed from this angle. Specifically, the questions to be answered are: Will reliability of supply play a stronger role in the future? Is it advisable to rely on short supply chains from a geographical point of view? A current investigation carried out by the ifo institute shows that this is where the shoe pinches. It comes to the conclusion that in addition to the lack of incoming orders, a shortage of materials in mechanical engineering is the second major cause of disruptions in production. The supply chains are thus in need of optimisation. It is against this background that the organisers of the FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering see the fair as the suitable forum to establish contacts with new or additional suppliers on the spot. Ultimately, the first FMB held 16 years ago already focused on matching mechanical engineering and suppliers at a regional level in East Westphalia-Lippe (Ostwestfalen-Lippe (OWL). Christian Enßle, Head of Cluster FMB: At that time, the objective was to form short and closely linked supply chains. This still accounts for a fundamental strength of the mechanical engineering region of OWL.” Although only around two-thirds of the exhibitors at the show today come from the region due to the continuing growth of the event, its focus clearly lies on the domestic market and the neighbouring countries. And each year without fail, visitors to the fair are amazed to discover that they can also find highly specialised components in the immediate vicinity. World-wide procurement trips are not always necessary. In doing so, the organisers attach importance to keeping an eye on both aspects – regional and global procurement. Christian Enßle: Relying purely on regionalisation would mean falling short of the mark. After all, our mechanical engineering companies depend on the global market. If their customers were to rely on regionalisation, this would be counterproductive. In our opinion, it comes down to the mix, for instance to establishing second source suppliers and the diversification of the supply chains.” The some 450 exhibitors expected to take part in the show feel they are in a position to support the mechanical engineering companies with regard to this task – whereby they cover the entire range of the supply spectrum. They can also benefit from a further trend: batch sizes are becoming smaller, the variety of versions is increasing, manufacturers are more flexible and delivery periods are becoming shorter. All this is indicative of the close cooperation between mechanical engineering companies and suppliers. Spatial proximity is not a compulsory requirement in this respect, but it is helpful. Many exhibitors at the FMB are extremely well prepared for this close collaboration and correspondingly flexible.


Perspective for communication and exchange in the second half of the year

It is now officially confirmed: Trade shows and conventions are permitted to take place in North Rhine-Westphalia with effect from 30 May 2020. This is the case according to the North Rhine-Westphalia Plan of the state government published on 6 May 2020. This is great news for the organisers of the FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering, particularly as the time between this effective date and the start of the show on 4 November 2020 is so long that there is at least some hope that the measures made necessary by the pandemic will be further relaxed. The results of a survey conducted by the organiser among the exhibitors showed that over the past two months the suppliers to the mechanical engineering industry have had to forgo their established channels of communication in sales, such as trade shows and visits from field service representatives. Although it was still possible to provide existing and potential customers with information, most of which was done online, there were and are shortfalls when it comes to addressing the clients directly, particularly in the case of new customers. It is now all the more important that there will be a return of communication platforms where discussions can be held and ideas and knowledge can be exchanged in the second half of 2020. The 16th FMB in Bad Salzuflen will fully meet this requirement and will show the visitors the entire spectrum of the supply chain for mechanical engineering. From the automation of systems to preventive maintenance. Some 550 exhibitors are expected to take part in the event, including market leaders such as Festo, igus, Schneider Electric and Siemens as well as companies from the region of East Westphalia-Lippe (OWL) Beckhoff, HARTING, WAGO and Weidmüller. The numerous small suppliers, which are often specialised in niche areas of business as “hidden champions”, are a group of exhibitors with just as much importance as the global players. Buyers and design engineers from the field of mechanical engineering can thus make some real discov-eries and establish new contacts. For igus as a regular exhibitor, the FMB 2020 is not merely a “fixture on their calendar” but is assigned a more significant role in view of the general situation. Michael Blaß, head of the division e-chain systems: We are always glad to showcase our products at the FMB and have further increased our exhibition space this year. This show gives us the opportunity to conduct discussions with customers in the north-west of Germany, particularly at a time when many large national trade shows have been cancelled.” The second division iglidur plain bearings and drylin linear technology also feels in good hands at the show. Tobias Vogel, head of this division “The FMB is an event where you can find out information quickly and easily in a pleasant atmosphere. Visitors do not necessarily have to invest a whole working day in gaining such information but have the opportunity to become acquainted with many innovations within a very short period of time.” This year alone, igus will be showcasing over 100 motion plastics innovations in Bad Salzuflen. They contribute to improving the technology employed by the users and to reducing costs.


A look ahead to the autumn fair

The “makers” of FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering are satisfied with their progress in their preparations for the fair to be held in November 2020 for the 16th year running. Christian Enßle, Head of Cluster FMB: “As of 1 April 2020 we have 325 bookings. We are extremely confident that we will achieve last year’s level – in other words both halls 20+21 filled to capacity. There are good reasons for this: The exhibitors with whom we are in close dialogue miss the personal contact with existing and potential customers. Therefore, we expect strong demand for communication and information in the second half of the year.” In addition to engineering trends – with digitalisation leading the way – the trade show organiser is of the opinion that one topic at the forthcoming FMB will be discussed much more intensively than in previous years. Christian Enßle: “Many companies have now established that their supply chains are unstable in this time of crisis. In the coming months, they will draw their own conclu-sions from this situation, reassess their procurement strategies in this light and, for instance, build up second source suppliers or rely more on regional ones.” The 16th FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering will provide the ideal forum for this. After all, it was originally set up to bring together the suppliers in East Westphalia-Lippe (OWL) and the enterprises based there with a view to developing regional networks. Although this focus has expanded to the northern half of Germany with the growth of the fair, the need to encourage strong and stable supply chains with close and direct communication among those involved still exists. The FMB thus anticipates a very large number of exhibitors and visitors on account of the fact that the field of mechanical engineering, including its suppliers, is currently undergoing a very intensive phase of innovation. The key words here are digitalisation and Industry 4.0. Platforms on which suppliers, manufacturers and the users of machines can engage in discussions, talk about trends and find out about new developments are therefore all the more important – particularly since the region OWL, home of the FMB, is regarded as the “hotspot” for these topics throughout Europe. The FMB has been successfully performing this task since 2005 and has retained its unique profile – as a fair covering the entire spectrum of the supply industry across different sectors, yet still maintaining its compact and personal nature.


Taking stock of the 15th FMB: Exhibitors full of praise for the large number and high quality of the contacts

Satisfaction among the trade visitors, exhibitors and organisers: This is, in a nutshell, the summary of the 15th FMB – the supplier show for mechanical engineering, which took place in Bad Salzuflen from 6th to 8th November. There were precisely 555 exhibitors at the event, with both halls being filled right down to the last square metre. And both the exhibitors surveyed by the organisers of the show as well as the visitors confirmed that their expectations were more than satisfied. Christian Enßle, Head of the Cluster FMB of Easyfairs: “The unanimous feedback provided by the exhibitors: The quality of the discussions is very high. Buyers, directors and design engineers come to the FMB with very specific projects in mind. And many exhibitors reported that the quantity of the contacts was also at an extremely high level.” In doing so, the FMB once more demonstrates its reputation as an information platform for mechanical engineering. As shown by the many participants in the programme of lectures, information providing a deeper insight into the topics is also in demand. This year the content of the theme days focused on corrective maintenance of the future and digitalisation in practical applications. On the third day of the show, the programme of lectures was presented by the Leading-edge Cluster Intelligente Technische Systeme – it´s OWL. The cluster also showcased innovative and practice-oriented solutions for the production of tomorrow at its stand. Among the eye-catchers was a measuring case with which existing systems – at the show it was a decades-old box column drill – can be digitalised with state-of-the-art sensor technology. The initiative “owl maschinenbau”, which was involved in initiating the show 15 years ago, offered interested visitors a “Walk of Champions” to particularly innovative suppliers of the region. The blend of well-known suppliers and newcomers offering their products and services to the mechanical engineering sector is typical of the FMB. This year, this included joint stands from Spain and – with the support of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) – from Kosovo. Dutch suppliers are traditionally well represented at the event, and they accounted for the largest group among the 79 foreign exhibitors. From the point of view of the visitors, it was also clear that the FMB is gaining importance as the place to be and as a networking platform. Christian Enßle: “We were hosts to several delegations of overseas companies, including from Russia and several groups from the Netherlands.” The satisfaction of the exhibitors can also be deduced by the fact that many booked their stand for the 16th FMB, which will be held from 4th to 6th November 2020, while they were still attending this year’s event. Before that, however, the FMB-Süd will take place in Augsburg on 12th and 13th February 2020. It was initi-ated just under four years ago with a view to providing the mechanical engineering companies located at the technological hub of the south with an information platform similar to that available to the northern half of Germany by the FMB.

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