DateJanuary-February, 2018 Print

The world’s biggest industry trade fair just keeps growing.

Interlift 2017, held at Messe Augsburg in surprisingly temperate Augsburg, Germany, on October 17-20, 2017, proved to be the international biennial trade fair’s biggest iteration yet. With a record 574 participating companies and 21,260 visitors, the fair’s 13th incarnation proved a far cry from its 1991 inaugural event, which showcased 155 exhibitors — roughly half from Germany — and drew approximately 9,200 visitors.

The prestige of the fair and its international appeal have grown over time and for good reason, according to Heiko Könicke, managing director of event organizer AFAG Messen und Ausstellungen GmbH, who described Interlift as being, from its inception, a “high-tech show with big companies, but we are all good friends with good communication.” During Interlift 2017’s opening ceremony, he elaborated on the fair’s continued success:

“Interlift is the gateway to the international lift market, and the live situation is so important. We are here, offline, for four days at an event put on by professionals for professionals. The international press and international associations are here. There is a vital energy source here. With [Interlift’s] large selection of exhibits and the clear advantages of personal communication, it creates a sustainable added value for both exhibitors and visitors. . . . Interlift is enjoying a continuous boom with stable linear growth, as is seen from all the top results in all benchmarks.”

Indeed, Interlift 2017 reached a multitude of milestones, including welcoming exhibitors and visitors that were 60% foreign and from a total of 114 nations, new Interlift records. Following host-country Germany, the top countries represented were Italy (14%), Spain (8%), France (7%), Switzerland (6%), the Netherlands (5%), Sweden (5%), the U.K. (5%), Greece (4%), Poland (4%) and Austria (3%).

For Italian exhibitors, who have consistently made up the largest foreign exhibiting group at Interlift, the fair is crucial to their success, creating an all-important gateway to world markets. Interlift 2017 saw nearly 100 Italian elevator companies represented, as well as the Italian associations ANICA (Italian elevator components association) and ANACAM (Italian elevator association). According to ANICA General Manager Dr. Silvia Piccione, this year’s event stood out:

“Interlift 2017 was special. The organization was perfect; from the first to the last day, we had plenty of visitors who were all seriously interested in our products. Even the summery weather helped to spread the generally good atmosphere. We were particularly pleased with the VFA/ANICA event: it showed that Germany and Italy share the same market interests.”

Though the most represented countries were European, China continues to grow its visitor and exhibitor numbers, investing in large standalone booths, along with the country’s joint booths. According to Zhang Lexiang, general secretary of the Chinese Elevator Association, these investments are paying off:

“In my opinion, Interlift 2017 was a great success. The amount of exhibitors, exhibition area and professional visitors once again broke all records. The organization of the trade fair is highly professional. We will be back in Augsburg in 2019 with even more exhibitors and visitors, and hope that the Interlift will achieve even more success in two years’ time.”

Italian and Chinese representatives were not alone in their praise of this year’s fair. Surveys taken during the exposition by Gelszus Trade Fair Market Research Agency showed positive results, with visitors pleased by the surprisingly warm weather and the excellent exhibitor selection. Exhibitors were pleased with the caliber of visitors to Interlift, most of whom were decisionmakers at their companies. Of those in attendance, 48% belonged to the lift construction sector and 25% to the maintenance and repair sector. Ninety-eight percent of Interlift attendees said, overall, they were very satisfied with their visit.

In response to the impressive survey outcomes, Könicke said:
“Together with our partners, we are extremely pleased with the excellent trade fair results, in particular with deteriorating general conditions and protectionist tendencies in certain important markets. These are developments that are not exactly encouraging for international markets.”

Despite the lingering questions regarding possible changes to some countries’ trade practices, Interlift’s many new records may be more indicative of the larger trends confirmed by fairgoers; surveys found most Interlift attendees saw the future development of the international elevator sector even more positively than they did two years ago, with 71% expecting improvement in the market. In consideration of the worldwide trend to urbanization, this vision is by no means utopian, according to AFAG.

Over the fair’s four days, busy exhibitors promoted many new and updated products in their booths, including new versions of safety components, shaft and cabin doors, and controls and frequency converters. The question of saving energy has not been settled, and the topic of design was as open as ever, as was clear from the cabins displayed. Suppliers also displayed novelties such as fixtures, shaft cables, pulleys, wiring, guide shoes, oilers and spare parts. Companies with complete accessibility solutions showed a broad array of home and platform lifts, while emergency call-system providers demonstrated the latest options and capabilities of their products. According to the Gelszus survey, most visitors were interested in components, followed by elevator doors, controls and accessories. Monitoring and safety systems and elevator cabs were also of particular interest to attendees, as were hydraulic systems and gears.

Among participating companies from Turkey this year Akar, Aksöz Makina, Ametal, Arkel, Aybey Elektronik, Bulut Makina, Centa, EMF Motor, Genemek, Hedefsan, Has Elevator, İleri Asansör, Löher, Meneviş, Merih, Mik-El, Nergiz Kablo, Önersan, Özray, Prolift, TPM, Wittur and Zorlu Asansör.

In addition to the exhibition, Interlift offered four full days of education in the VFA-Interlift Forum. Topics ranged from lift market and technology trends, to safety and codes and standards. The forum’s wide variety of speakers encompassed longtime industry experts, German business authorities and young entrepreneurs, all sharing the latest industry information, with an eye to the future. According to Achim Hütter, president of VFA-Interlift e.V., technical sponsor of Interlift, the forum was well received, welcoming more than 2,200 visitors, another new record.

With each new Interlift growth record comes the need for additional space for exhibitors and visitors. The event has traditionally spanned Messe Augsburg halls 1-7, but in 2015, the Cube and the Pavilion were added to help handle the growing crowds and exhibitors. These additions remained for 2017, with Wittur again occupying the Cube, and many exhibitors finding a home in the Pavilion. For the first time, the location of the Exhibitor Evening moved from hall 6 to the business area of the nearby WWK Arena soccer stadium, which could accommodate up to 1,500 guests. More than 600 comfortably attended the popular Exhibitor Evening this year and enjoyed the additional space and good food and service.

Another change alleviated some of the fair’s parking congestion. AFAG ran three shuttle lines regularly between the WWK parking lot, Munich Airport and Augsburg Central Railway Station. And, a new, second fair entrance area constructed between halls 1 and 7 in 2015 further eased crowd flow with its digital admission system.

According to Hütter, “Using the shuttle service to the parking area at the WWK Arena meant that for the first time, we could target both trade fair entrances, which led to a very noticeable improvement in spreading out the trade fair visitors.”

Hütter also noted that the generally good economic situation around the world ensured that both visitors and exhibitors were in the best frame of mind during the fair. “The only problem perceived in talking with industry professionals is the persistent lack of qualified personnel, which slows the boom somewhat,” he said.

As AFAG and VFA look toward Interlift 2019, it is with a host of notes from 2017 and excited anticipation for how to top their biggest fair yet. Said AFAG Project Manager Joachim Kalsdorf:

“This Interlift 2017 was quite simply sensational. Once again, it impressively underlined its position as the worldwide leading trade fair for the sector. For our key players, their motto is ‘Interlift first,’ and we have already been discussing possible enlargements to their stands for the future.”

Preparations will begin soon for Interlift 2019, scheduled for October 15-18 in Augsburg. Check for more information.