automatica—a look over the shoulder

Messe München will be holding automatica, the world’s leading trade fair for intelligent automation and robotics, for the first time in parallel with LASER World of PHOTONICS from June 27 to 30, 2023. In this interview, the two Exhibition Directors Anja Schneider and Anke Odouli explain the goals and plans for this long term co-location.

What made you decide to hold LASER World of PHOTONICS and automatica in parallel in the future?

Anja Schneider: automatica has already been held in parallel with other trade fairs on several occasions. However, these were so-called application trade fairs. As a typical cross-sectional technology, automation and robotics can essentially be combined with any industrial application trade fair. After all, no manufacturing industry can get by without this enabler technology, and even the craft trade sector is increasingly willing to let robots do physically demanding and monotonous work. At the same time, new approaches such as cobots, as well as increasingly easy operability and lower entry costs have triggered a veritable “democratization of robotics”. In close consultation with our patron organization, the Automation and Robotics Association within the VDMA, and our Exhibitor Advisory Board, we therefore decided to join forces with LASER World of PHOTONICS – in other words, with another technology trade fair. Both trade fairs are aimed at enablers in a highly automated, fully connected and quality-monitored 4.0. production world. As a result, both trade fairs cover much of the process chain in smart factories and naturally also non-industrial applications. And they are both geared to users and visitors who want to update their processes.

© Messe München GmbH
Anja Schneider

Anke Odouli: The idea of co-location won over the LASER World of PHOTONICS team and our advisory boards straight away. In any case, there’s a lot of overlap, such as imaging and industrial image processing or sensor technology. And laser processes for industrial production are usually highly automated and often robot-assisted. The idea of co-location came about at the right time. After the pandemic messed up the schedules for many trade fairs, exhibitors and visitors are more flexible and more receptive to change. We spontaneously seized this opportunity to synchronize the annually alternating June trade fairs. We are convinced that this co-location will offer genuine added value for exhibitors and trade visitors to both fairs. With costs rising across the board, the trade fair landscape is also changing. If you can cover two leading global trade fairs such as automatica and LASER as well as the future-oriented World of QUANTUM in one trip, and more than 6,000 leading scientists can meet at the same time at the World of PHOTONICS Congress for more than half a dozen top-level conferences, then it’s easier to justify the trip to your superiors. After all, no digital format can offer such an abundance of specialist information and networking opportunities.

What synergies does the co-location of both two trade fairs promise?

Schneider: Experience shows that synergies don’t just happen. Instead, we as the trade fair organizers need to work with our exhibitors on taking full advantage of the synergies. That begins with the tickets for all three trade fairs being valid in twelve different halls. In the exhibition directory, there will be cross-references to related product groups at the respective trade fairs. And when planning the halls for LASER, we were able to place interface technologies such as imaging or laser systems for industrial production in the halls that connect the two trade fairs. It’s important for us that automatica and LASER retain their own identity and continue to offer their communities the topics they have come to expect. The application panels, offerings for young professionals and start-ups and even hackathons as part of the supporting program will, however, provide the opportunity to join forces and leverage synergies.

Odouli: We realize that it won’t be possible to exploit the full potential in the few months remaining until June, but co-location is a long-term plan. For everyone involved, it’s also a matter of implementing the obvious technological synergies within our enabler sectors in organizational terms and acting with our eyes and ears wide open so that we can take advantage of any learning effects. Synchronizing the two trade fairs merely provides the framework for that. Together with our exhibitors, we now need to fill this space so that visitors from a wide range of user industries can find the solutions and technical information here in Munich that will really advance their production. We look forward to doing that together.

Changes are often initially met with resistance. Has there already been any response from exhibitors?

Odouli: The response from LASER exhibitors has been very positive so far. Exhibitors from the laser manufacturing and imaging sectors in particular have provided enthusiastic feedback. There have been initial requests for visibility at both trade fairs. Here and there we worry that holding the two events at the same time could lead to a shortage of hotel rooms. We can, however, reassure our community on that front. Messe München hosts much larger trade fair events, such as bauma, which just took place, or IFAT, without hotel capacity reaching its limits.

Schneider: The response from the automatica community has likewise been very positive, even though the change of rotation from even to odd years means that our exhibitors now have to cope this once with two automatica trade fairs two years in a row. Some companies align their research and development cycles with automatica and had already planned for June 2024 to have prototypes presented in 2022 ready for series production by then, for example. But the overall mood is very positive. All the key account exhibitors are following suit and have already registered for June 2023, which also reflects that mood. They are willing to accept the change of rotation because they recognize the benefits of co-location and hope to benefit from it in the long term, just like Messe München.