IEN: The economic development in the field of electric automation has been rather slow this year. In the German machine building industry, the export figures have been decreasing, which is rather intimidating for an economy that so much depends on export. As a consequence, expectations among the VDMA - the German Engineering Federation - is rather cautious. However, the SPS IPC Drives show seems almost untouched by this development, since it keeps growing and growing. How do you explain this phenomenon?
Schulz-Metzner: You are right: The difficult European economic situation does not reflect in the development of SPS IPC Drives. On the contrary, the trade show in 2013 will be even more comprehensive than the one last year, and we will have record numbers in terms of exhibitors and exhibition space. The figures demonstrate how important the trade show actually is for the suppliers in the automation industry. Even in difficult economic situations like this, the electric automation branch shows a very high degree of innovation. Many companies adjust their cycles of innovation according to this show. And they are eager to display their new products at the SPS IPC Drives show.
IEN: In the forefront of this trade show, did you detect a negative mood among the exhibitors?
Schulz-Metzner: No, in fact it is just the opposite. The exhibitors right now have reached a peak in their preparations for the SPS IPC Drives show, and they are very active in marketing their participation in this exposition. We are very happy to welcome those exhibitors that have been faithfully accompanying this trade show over the years, and also those that participate in Nuremberg for the first time.
IEN: As a premiere, hall 11 will be added to the show, where 'Industrial Software' will be accommodated. Aren't you worried that the exhibition will become too big in the future?
Schulz-Metzner: Over the past years, SPS IPC Drives has only grown organically, i.e. within a very clearly defined topical framework. That means that the show reflects the electric automation market with all its components. This focus will definitely be kept in the future. Structuring the exhibition halls thematically facilitates the visitor's search for subjects and exhibitors that are relevant to him. For the first time, the newly added hall 11 offers visitors the possibility to acquire information on software within a single hall. Almost 100 suppliers, that used to be scattered in several exhibition halls before, will show their products and services in one place.
IEN: The subject 'Industrial Vision' will also be presented on a larger scale than usual in 2013, for example on a joint VDMA stand in hall 7A. Are some exhibitors trying to compensate for the Vision trade show that will not take place this year?
Schulz-Metzner: Certainly, the joint stand 'Industrial Vision', organized by the VDMA for the first time, will offer companies an ideal opportunity to present their solutions to the public. The topics Industrial Vision and Automation are merging more and more. The fact that many suppliers in the field of Industrial Vision will exhibit at the show on their individual stands also reflects this trend. In addition, the VDMA will organize a daily panel discussion around this subject in hall 3.
IEN: Are there other highlights that you would like to emphasize this year?
Schulz-Metzner: Most of the highlights at SPS IPC Drives 2013 will primarily be among the products and services, innovations, improvements and further developments presented by the exhibitors at their stands. Additional highlights are, of course, the two exhibition forums with interesting speeches and panel discussions around hot industry topics, as well as the congress that is taking place simultaneously, with lectures, keynotes and tutorials, for example around the subject 'Industry 4.0'.
IEN: There had been activities in the past to give visitors more time by extending the opening hours of the trade show to 7 p.m. on certain days. This concept has been abandoned in the meantime. Given the fact that the exhibition keeps growing and growing, wouldn't it be wise to extend it to a four days event?
Schulz-Metzner: One of the main success factors of the show has been its compactness. So there are no considerations at the moment to extend it by one more day.
IEN: This year you are expecting 450 international exhibitors, which is roughly a third of the total number of 1,500 exhibitors. Are you satisfied with that number?
Schulz-Metzner: SPS IPC Drives has in fact grown among the international exhibitors and visitors disproportionately. This trend is reflected in 2013 as well. Never before has the SPS IPC Drives been as international as it will be this year with 450 exhibitors, which demonstrates the significance this trade show has gained among both exhibitors and visitors from outside of Germany. We are very proud of that fact.
IEN: Which foreign countries are the most strongly represented ones at this year's exhibition in Nuremberg?
Schulz-Metzner: With 81 exhibitors, Italy will again be the best represented foreign country, increasing its participation by 10 percent compared to the previous year. Italy will be followed by China with 56, and our Southern neighbours Switzerland with 45 and Austria with 27 exhibitors. The United States will be represented by 26 exhibitors.
IEN: With the SIAF in China and the SPS IPC Drives Italia you have established the show on an international level as well. Has it become an export success?
Schulz-Metzner: SPS IPC Drives Italia was already a big success in 2011. After a further increase in the outcome in 2012, the third edition in May 2013 ended up way beyond our expectations. The trade show in Parma featured 518 exhibitors and more than 18,000 visitors. The first SPS Industrial Automation Fair (SIAF) in Guangzhou, China, started in 2010 with 317 exhibitors, presenting their product news to 16,715 visitors. In the following years we saw a constant growth among the exhibitors, as well as among the visitors. The fourth SIAF edition in 2013 in Guangzhou was booked by 448 exhibitors and seen by 28,000 visitors. The growing number of visitors impressively shows that SIAF has become a very important factor for the users of electric automation in the region of Guangdong.
IEN: Are you planning more international trade shows in the near future, and if so, where would that be?
Schulz-Metzner: Naturally, we monitor the relevant markets very closely and evaluate further possibilities for expansion. Our goal is to establish more exhibitions in the heart of the user industries. If the prerequisites are right, we will act. But clearly quality comes before quantity.
IEN: Without any doubt, the predominant keyword for the automation industry in 2013 has been 'Industry 4.0'. Where will the visitors find this topic at this year's SPS IPC Drives show?
Schulz-Metzner: Information and communication technologies have an increasing influence on industrial production nowadays. 'Industry 4.0' will certainly be present at quite a number of stands at the trade show. Two congress highlights, for example, will be free-of-charge keynotes on 'Industry 4.0' and 'Sensors 4.0' on Wednesday afternoon. Here visitors have the opportunity to gather information on the latest technologies regarding this subject. Furthermore, two trade show forums in halls 3 and 11, organized by the VDMA and the ZVEI, will deal with the topic in depth. Prior to the show, visitors can get detailed information regarding those events on our website mesago.de/en/SPS in the lectures/presentations section.
IEN: Mrs Schulz-Metzner, thank you very much fort he interview.