EMO--Go, See, Kick the Tires

Turning Point

Every 2 years (September 16-21 this year), the international metalworking industry scrubs itself up, and puts on the largest exposition on the planet for products, processes and services in this sector. That’s not to diminish other international and national trade shows, but EMO in Hannover, Germany, is the “mac daddy” of them all.

According to show officials, 2,030 companies have registered to exhibit at the fairgrounds. While the show is based in Germany, 60 percent of the registered exhibitors will come from 39 countries outside Germany. In this year’s edition, more than 430 companies are arriving from Asia. Truly, it’s an international coming together.

And while all that is interesting, why should Americans hop a plane and fly the pond to attend this show? After all, we have perfectly good shows here, and they are much more accessible.

I think an overriding reason to visit Hannover for American companies, especially this year, is that we are welcome as never before. The U.S. remains, if not the hottest manufacturing market in the world, certainly close to it. The 2,000-plus exhibiting companies really want to see us. 

U.S. manufacturing in general and the metalworking industry specifically has been growing in no small part because of its technological investments over the last few years. While the supply and demand cycle has moved up and down, those companies better equipped with more current machines and processes are in a much better position to weather these market fluctuations. That probably isn’t going to change. 

The EMO show in Hannover is the largest gathering of metalworking technologies in the world. What better opportunity to comparison shop new and different ways to improve on the manufacturing foundation and momentum that has been built in the U.S. than to continue moving forward by investigating, in a single venue, what the rest of the world is working on?

Manufacturing is always looking for ways and tools to help it make things better, faster and at lower costs. It’s what we do, and that drive has helped create a standard of living that is unprecedented in history.

I find it amazing that in spite of the long road manufacturing has taken, there seems to always be some method or product that can still improve how we go about the process. I chuckle at the supposed quote in the 1800s from the head of the patent office saying that everything that can be invented has been invented.

For me, attending EMO or other such industry get-
togethers is like being a kid in a candy store. There is so much to see and so many smart people to talk with and learn from.

Having been involved in metalworking manufacturing for 30-plus years and having traveled extensively, this show and others have become a reunion among colleagues as well as a technological discovery trip. What’s cool is that it doesn’t get old—just better.

Many times in my discussions with shops, OEMs and others I encounter in my job, I tell people that I think now is the most exciting time in metalworking that I have experienced in my career. The coming together of electronics and mechanics, what the Euros call mectronics, has propelled metalworking to levels of efficiency and productivity only imagined a few years ago.

Moreover, the emerging technologies, like additive manufacturing, are full of promise. I see additive as an additional arrow in our manufacturing quiver that represents still another way to make things better, faster and at lower costs.

As your stalwart editor and proxy, I will report back to you in the magazine and online some of the products, processes and services that I observe at EMO that are germane to your businesses. These will be print articles, e-newsletter items and blogs over the coming months.

That said, however, I recommend that you consider visiting EMO yourself and getting a firsthand look at all the many things that make up our industry. You can use the items I will be producing in PM over time as reminders. 

Moving forward is what our industry has always done, and seeing, learning and participating is a prime way we have sustained this. The tools are on display in Hannover, but it’s the creative application of those tools that is our differentiator. I think it’s worth a look.