Hannover Fair 2004: ‘Relaunch’ poises fair for growth

Hannover, Germany—With the theme of "See Tomorrow, Today," the 57th edition of Hannover Industrial Fair concluded its six-day run here on April 24, 2004, drawing some 180,000 visitors to technology, product, and seminar offerings of 5,040 exhibitors from 61 countries.

By Control Engineering Staff April 28, 2004
At Hannover Fair’s opening ceremonies, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (right) and visiting Republic of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nasarbajew (left) flank ASIMO, the humanoid robot with real-time intelligence that enables it to walk and move continuously, much like a human.
(Photo courtesy of Deutsche Messe AG.)

Hannover, Germany —With the theme of ‘See Tomorrow, Today,’ the 57th edition of Hannover Industrial Fair concluded its six-day run here on April 24, 2004, drawing some 180,000 visitors to technology, product, and seminar offerings of 5,040 exhibitors from 61 countries. Exhibit display area amounted to 151,500 sq m (1,630,700 sq ft).

Such statistics would be the envy of industrial fairs anywhere in the world, but for Hannover Fair the figures represent a substantial slimming down over recent years. Changes in the makeup of this multiple ‘fairs within a fair,’ combined with global economic trends and visitor travel habits are behind the results. Fair organizer Deutsche Messe AG (DEMAG), however, is optimistic that the redesigned format—which it calls a ‘relaunch’—will provide sustainable growth from this newly established base. DEMAG used another statistic to indicate positive results for 2004: ‘The ratio of approximately 1.2 visitors per square meter of rented space was much higher than in recent years, greatly exceeding the organizers’ expectations.’

Interkama adds to lineup

Led by Factory Automation and Interkama—the process automation show added for the first time this year—Hannover Fair’s integrated 2004 lineup also included show sectors on Energy, Digital Factory, Surface Technology, Subcontracting, Microtechnology, and Research & Technology. About 73,000 visitors (over 40% of all attendees) indicated an interest in visiting Interkama, which is slated to run here every other year. Hannover Fair’s international stature was reaffirmed with 47,000 visitors coming from countries other than Germany, of whom some 40% were from outside of Europe. Asian visitors had the greatest rise in attendance (70%).

An exhibitor survey at the show’s close yielded further positive feedback: Substantially more exhibitors (44% in 2004 vs. 29% in 2003) reported ‘favorable’ to ‘very favorable’ business outlook. Also drawing increasingly favorable response from exhibitors were the areas of ‘sales prospects’ and ‘potential new customers’ they encountered, says DEMAG.

The top four international exhibiting countries were Italy with 218 companies, China (190), Switzerland (160), and France (118). Substantially lower on the ‘official’ list, the U.S. fielded 67 exhibiting companies. As mentioned in previous coverage of Hannover Fair, actual U.S. presence is much larger because German subsidiaries of U.S. companies manage the exhibits and are listed accordingly.

Of Chancellors and humanoid robots

Much tradition surrounds Hannover Fair. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder keynoted the opening ceremonies held the evening prior to the fair. The lengthy program also featured industrial and government officials speaking about the economic prospects and industrial health of Germany and Europe. Indicating the fair’s importance, Chancellor Schröder visited several exhibits on the first day of the show and tried out some products.

This year’s opening ceremonies included an added technology flavor with the appearance of Honda’s newest generation humanoid robot ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility), on the podium with the dignitaries. Regarded as the world’s most advanced two-legged robot, ASIMO represents one example of Honda’s vision for long-term research to meet society’s future needs. Still under development, the robot incorporates Honda’s I-Walk (intelligent walk) technology that enables capability to walk forward/backward, turn sideways, climb stairs, and turn corners as humans do. At this point, ASIMO reportedly speaks and understands English and Japanese, able to understand 50 calls and greetings and respond to 30 commands.

Besides product innovations, this annual event offers a venue for important company conferences and announcements. Here a couple of examples (click on the article title to read the complete text):

  • Hannover Fair 2004: new Schneider firm to develop services, sell Dassault solutions

  • Hannover Fair 2004: Modbus protocol ownership moved to Modbus-IDA

Other coverage will follow online and in the June 2004 printed issue.

Next year, Hannover Fair moves to a more streamlined five-day format, April 11 through April 15, 2005. For more information on attending or exhibiting, click here .

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Frank J. Bartos, Executive Editor