Last week I was at Motek, the German trade fair for assembly, handling technology and industrial automation. Despite a few of the usual grumblings that you’ll hear at any trade show (there aren’t enough visitors etc), the 31st Motek was a healthy show with a wealth of technical expertise and products under one roof for anyone who is shopping to build machines and optimise production.
Some of the grumbles about cost may well be valid. Ignoring the substantial investment that exhibitors need to make to take part, an entrance ticket costs 25 Euros per day (40 for two) and the car park was inline with this! Of course, the reason visitors forked out their cash to be there was clear: It is a very specialised show and most of the main vendors are there to meet, with their latest robots, conveyors or HMI software on show.
Motek attracts more international visitors than in the past, but it is really a German show for German visitors. I have been attending the show since 2005, when it was still held in the remote town of Sinsheim. Today, Motek takes place in Stuttgart within a stone’s throw of the airport making it very convenient for all and perhaps the reason it attracts a few more international players than before. Exhibitors from Taiwan and Japan and visitors from industrial neighbours in Turkey, Switzerland, Italy and the UK were just some of the good people I had the fortune to meet last week.
Linear motion (or Lineartechnik auf Deutsch) is an important topic for Motek, and several the big players were battling it out for attention – with Bosch Rexroth’s huge stand somewhat outdone by Festo’s remote-controlled bird and leaping 12ft telescopic signpost (with facilities just a few miles away Stuttgart is their home after all). One of the best stands, Item, simply fired a large red ball in the air to get visitors attention with a slick and heavily branded stand. Industrial polymer specialist Igus took the brave move of theming the entire stand with Eighties classic movie Blues Brothers, including the famous cop car – a personal favourite film but a move that had mixed response from the engineers who were dressed in suits and shades in the Hall 5 inferno!
Aside from the publicity stunts, Bosch, Item and a number of other companies had application engineers building multi-axis systems and demonstrating products on their stands.
It was also an important milestone for our friends at MI Verlag, we were celebrating their 60th Anniversary with Wheel Of Fortune to win a pro driving course in Germany, and handing out some delicious chocolate cakes to the runners up. Motek was also the first chance to see the first edition of their new KE NEXT magazine, the all-new innovation hungry update to their long-running Konstruktion & Engineering magazine.
As a bit of a motion control geek, it was interesting to see the growing trend towards linear motors tailored to industrial applications. Tubular linear motor inventor Dunkermotoren Linear Systems (previously Copley Motion Systems), IAI and notably Festo were all drawing crowds with fast and clean direct-drive actuators.
A Motek blog wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Stuttgart Oktoberfest – it may not be the original Munich festival, but the halls were huge and echoed with the sound of Steins clinking, table dancing … and 99 Red Balloons… My colleagues and I look forward to meeting all the usual suspects again next year at Motek 2013.