The reports by these two exhibitors put the entire event in a nutshell. Focussed discussions with capable, high-quality customers, machine sales that were unexpected in some cases and the establishment of contacts with new customer groups – these aspects are reflected in numerous reports by the exhibitors.

METAV stimulates investment decisions

The excellent economic state the industry is in was demonstrated – as expected – at METAV 2018 too. In the visitor survey, about one third of the visitors indicate that they are planning investments, primarily in machine tools, measuring technology, manufacturing and process automation and precision tools. “This shows us that we are exactly right to focus METAV on the core area of metalworking and the supplementary topics in the areas”, says Dr Wilfried Schäfer, Director of VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) in Frankfurt am Main, which organised METAV. Another interesting fact: about a quarter of the visitors who intend to invest aim to increase their capacities by installing new machines.

“There is a downside to the booming economy for us too, however. Company capacity utilisation is very high. It was therefore only logical that many companies find it difficult to delegate staff. As a result, 26,500 trade visitors came instead of the 30,000 that we expected”, says Wilfried Schäfer. The proportion of visitors from countries outside Germany remains constant at 11 per cent, however. They came from about 50 different countries, with the largest contingents arriving from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Austria.

As was expected, three quarters of the German visitors came from West and North Germany. It was encouraging to see that about one fifth came to Düsseldorf from South and South-West Germany. Nina Bruckner, Director at Karl Bruckner GmbH in Weinstadt, confirms: “Our main objective is to cultivate relationships with customers. As a result, we can extend a welcome to our top customers from Southern Germany too and we expect to do good follow-up business after the trade fair.” And it is a fact that more than half of the visitors intend to place orders after METAV.

New METAV exhibition concept is established

The area concept, which was launched two years ago and focusses on specific topics (quality, additive manufacturing, tool and mould production and medical technology) is now fully established with both exhibitors and visitors. “We took part in METAV for the first time in 2016, because we found the new area concept convincing. Hasco’s entire process chain, from machines to standardised part requirements and software, is reflected in the moulding area,” says Axel Fehling, for example, who is Regional Sales Manager at Hasco Hasenclever in Lüdenscheid.

The areas highlight both topics and products. Additional information is provided in the associated forums. Trade visitors are familiar with this concept in the meantime. They are very interested in machine and precision tools, with a special emphasis on tool, mould and model production, testing and measuring technology, quality management systems and additive manufacturing, where there has been substantial growth. More than 90 per cent of the visitors are satisfied with the range covered.

Industry 4.0 plays a central role too. Relevant solutions were presented in the theme park with the same name as well as on many of the 560 exhibitors’ stands. VDW took advantage of the trade fair environment to report about its industry project to develop a joint interface for linking machines to higher-level IT systems that is not tied to a specific manufacturer. “A great deal of work still lies ahead of us, but it is exactly what many suppliers and users in small and medium-sized companies are interested in”, says Schäfer.

Increasing the awareness of potential recruits about changes in production

The shortage of skilled staff in technical professions is the other major issue the industry is facing. The Machine Manufacturing Recruitment Foundation has already been working on this problem for many years now, e.g. with the special youth show at METAV, and takes advantage of the trade fair to communicate the fascination of technology and the career opportunities in the industry to young people. “In view of the digitisation process and the changes associated with Industry 4.0, sustainability in recruitment development is the key to corporate success in future. These were among the central issues in the talks we held with instructors and teachers at the special youth show,” says Peter Bole, Head of the Machine Manufacturing Recruitment Foundation.

The exhibitors appreciate the activities carried out by the Machine Manufacturing Recruitment Foundation. “The shortage of skilled personnel is already having a strong impact on us. We have a live platform here to arouse the interest of young people in new technologies. It is difficult to establish contact with potential recruits otherwise, particularly in view of the fact that there is no classic apprenticeship for additive manufacturing,” says Lars Markus, Application Engineering and Service Manager, Additive Manufacturing, at Renishaw in Pliezhausen.

Exhibition programme supplemented by additional events

The response to the additional events at METAV 2018 was good as well. They focussed on additive manufacturing, grinding and clamping technology and fire protection. One of the highlights was definitely the Inside 3D Printing conference. Programme Director Franz-Josef Villmer, Professor of Product Development, Innovation Management and Rapid Technologies at the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences, says: “Once again this year, the participants were extremely happy with the content, professionalism and organisation of the leading international conference Inside 3D Printing at METAV 2018. They appreciated the diverse programme with highly topical subjects, 45 lectures by international speakers and the discussion and interaction with experts. It was possible to visit METAV after the conference to see practical examples and to obtain more detailed information following the lectures and discussions.”

“All in all, METAV 2018 confirmed the good economic situation of the industry and the willingness of industrial customers to invest”, says Wilfried Schäfer from VDW. Most of the exhibitors share this view. More than 80 per cent already know that they will be participating again in the next METAV. It will be taking place in March 2020.