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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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