Moulding Expo Canceled: What’s next?

Editor: Gerd Kielburger

Moulding Expo was firmly on the schedule of many equipment suppliers and end users, but the organizers of the Stuttgart Exhibition Center had to pull the emergency brake due to the pandemic development and cancel the industry’s highlight event. But what are the consequences for the industry? ETMM asked Moulding Expo Project Manager Florian Niethammer about what happens next.

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Florian Niethammer, Projectmanager of Moulding Expo, Landesmesse Stuttgart
Florian Niethammer, Projectmanager of Moulding Expo, Landesmesse Stuttgart
(Source: Landesmesse Stuttgart)

Mr. Niethammer, why did you not postpone Moulding Expo to 2022 and instead chose to stick to the regular 2023 bi-annual cycle?

For the tool, pattern and mould making industry and especially its suppliers the existing trade show cycles on the market are already very tightly timed. This is why we decided to postpone Moulding Expo to its regular date in 2023 within the traditional bi-annual cycle. And of course, we took this decision in close cooperation with our advisory board.

In view of significantly accelerating innovation cycles: What impact does it have on an industry if a leading trade fair such as Moulding Expo is canceled and does not take place for a total of 4 years in the end?

We do know how much the tool, pattern and mould making industry will miss Moulding Expo as its meeting point in 2021 — and so will we. Also, for us the gap of another two years seems way too long until the next live event. This is why we want to create several touch points on the way to Moulding Expo 2023, starting with our Virtual Innovation Day in June 2021.

The equipment industry is increasingly facing considerable competition from Asian (especially Chinese) suppliers. There, the industry exchange via trade fairs has already restarted. Are there any disadvantages this could have on Europe as an industrial location as a result?

We see that China has started to hold trade shows again, having the pandemic successfully under control through strict government measures. Of course, companies that are active in China already are making use of the shows for the Chinese market. I personally, don’t see this having a negative effect on the European industry. But when it comes to trade shows in China, we as trade show organizers would love to have trade shows back again soon in Europe as well.

Are there any studies or surveys that show the level of dependency there is for exhibitors at a leading trade fair in terms of the overall turnover?

Actually, there is a study by AUMA, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, of November last year, stating that German companies lack the support of trade fairs to increase their business success to a considerable extent after around three quarters of the trade fairs planned in Germany for 2020 were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 76% of the companies reviewed complained about the lack of opportunities to acquire new customers. And more than 40% of the companies have already suffered concrete economic loss due to cancelled trade fair participations in recent months.

The pandemic has also significantly increased the pace of digitization in the mould making and tooling industry. As a result equipment suppliers have now opened up additional channels of communication in order to stay in touch with their customers. Does this cause you any concern as a trade show organizer?

From what I see, a lot a of the newly learned digital skills and opportunities will remain also after the pandemic. We may see, for example, less business travel due to the efficiency of video calls that everyone could experience over the last months. But when talking to our customers I also recognize the strong desire to make real live experiences again. I see the strong need among exhibitors and attendees to meet in person and face to face again and to have the opportunity to get to really know new contacts. I think that trade shows will continue to offer the perfect setting to meet these needs.

Which topics in particular would have been the main focus at this year’s Moulding Expo?

Again, Moulding Expo 2021 would have demonstrated what the high-class European tool, pattern and mould makers and their suppliers are capable to deliver. Especially the “Road of Tooling Innovation”, which was planned to showcase some of the most exciting tooling and production concepts of the future, would have been an outstanding highlight of this year´s exhibition. Besides, we were already working intensively on the on-site forum program together with our professional and promotional supporters and our professional partner WBA Werkzeugbau Akademie.

What’s next? What can the industry expect at the Virtual Innovation Day — and what plans are there beyond that?

Our Virtual Innovation Day on June 10 will bring some of the highlights of Moulding Expo 2021 onto the virtual stage to share them with the industry. We consider this event the starting point for more actions to shorten the waiting time until Moulding Expo 2023.