The overwhelming feedback from visitors from South Africa that visited the EMO 2017 exhibition in Hannover, Germany in September 2017 was that the exhibition was an eye opener for young and old alike.
“As a first time visitor to the EMO machine exhibition we could not believe the sheer size of the exhibition. Words cannot do the exhibition any justice and the only regret that we have is not having gone there years before. If we may offer one piece of advice to anyone that is involved in the metalworking industry and in any position they might hold we would recommend that at least once in their lifetime they make the effort and visit the EMO exhibition,” said Walter Bellora of BCF Precision Grinding.
“The exhibition really opened my eyes to what is available in the world and the massive size of the manufacturing sector. I realised how small our local market actually is, and saw a lot of brands that I have never heard of. It became evident that our industry and economy are very far behind compared to the big world out there, but we must see that as an opportunity for growth and use factors like our exchange rate to our advantage,” said Eugene Hugo, JHPE Precision Engineering.
“The exhibition as usual was of an exceptional standard. What was evident was the increase in technology with regards to the digitalisation of information for manufacturing processes, automation, all with the aim of improving production efficiency,” said Aurelio Grech-Cumbo of RGC Engineering.
These statements typify the reaction of most South Africans that visit EMO for the first time and those that are repeat visitors. I must say that it was encouraging to see so many first-timers and how they reacted to soaking up so much of the knowledge that is available, which is not easy to find normally.
But the best comment came from first-timer Filipe Dos Santos of Perfection Tool & Die. His comment is very perceptive and all in the metalworking industry should note its context. This is what he had to say: “I believe the show was well worth it and I will be implementing a few technologies that were seen at EMO in the near future, which will save our company 100 fold compared to what the trip cost us.”
And believe me with our current exchange rate and the fact that accommodation is at a premium over the exhibition period, these rates are not cheap. One visitor said he was paying euro 197 per night to stay at a private B&B that only operates during the exhibition time.
What was also reassuring was the number of South African visitors who were from the same family and the father and son visitors. It is these SME engineering companies that are the backbone of a manufacturing based economy and South Africa needs more of them.
The networking that took place between the South Africans is always something I encourage. As one veteran visitor who attends EMO regularly and has been doing so since the 1990s said to me: “You never know when and how you can help each other down the line. The business opportunity might only take place in seven or so years time but at least you have had the opportunity to build some trust by getting to know the individual in a neutral environment. And who does he call first?”
A comprehensive report on the exhibition and the trends happening in our industry appears in the International News section of this issue. Comment, observations and opinions are not made by just one individual but by many, so you can get a balanced viewpoint.