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Hannover`s robots head for Munich

01 May, 2003

The future of factory automation`s most familiar icon at the Hannover Fair, the industrial robot, has fallen into doubt with the announcement that the German Engineering Federation VDMA is withdrawing support from Hannover to set up a new robot show in Munich.

The decision came after "extensive investigations" indicated that a new show in Munich would have a positive impact on the industry, says Stefan Mueller, executive committee chairman of the VDMA`s Robots + Automation association.

Mueller, who is managing director of Kuka, was quoted in the German weekly magazine Markt&Technik as saying there is "much discontent" among VDMA members with Hannover Fair`s factory automation concept and the lack of international participation.

The robot-makers are also unhappy that most of the visitors to Hannover come from North Germany and that only about a quarter of them are from the South, where most of the automotive industry, and thus most robot customers, are based.

The new show will debut from 15—18 June 2004. The organisers hope to attract about 400 exhibitors and 40,000 visitors, and to fill 25,000 square metres of exhibition space. As well as robot systems, the exhibition will cover assembly and handling techniques, and industrial image processing. It will run in a two-year cycle.

However Mueller acknowledged that the organisers of the Hannover Fair are extremely aggressive and will "fight" to retain individual exhibitors. Some exhibitors may go to Munich, and some may stay in Hannover. Still others might go to both shows. In the long run, he says, the market will decide.

In another major change to Hannover, the show organiser Deutsche Messe has announced, from 2005, it will organise the Fair around manufacturing industries in odd-numbered years, and will focus on process manufacturing and continuous production in even-numbered years.

Also, starting in October 2005, CeMAT, the materials-handling and logistics exhibition, will become a standalone show, running in a three-year cycle. The organisers hope that with 1,000 exhibitors and 80,000 square metres of exhibition space, the show will adopt the same "dynamic trajectory" as the CeBIT show, which was split off from Hannover Fair in 1985 and has become the world`s largest fair for IT and telecommunications technology.

But not all exhibitors are excited about the CeMAT spinoff. A spokesman for sensor manufacturer Sick said that at least 10% of his stand`s visitors have come to the fair to visit the materials-handling show. "Packaging and materials-handling are the biggest part of our customer base," he says. "Nobody told us they were going to make it a separate show," he complained.

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