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28 November, 2021

Siemens and ABB quit SPS as German Covid cases soar

18 November, 2021

With Covid-19 infection rates hitting an all-time high in Germany, several major exhibitors at next week’s SPS automation show in Nuremberg – including Siemens, ABB, Beckhoff, Schneider Electric, Rittal, Wago, Pilz, Lenze, Sick, Weidmüller, Bosch Rexroth, B&R Automation, TE Connectivity and Harting – have decided to pull out of a physical presence at the show, although many will still take part in online activities that are running in parallel.

Germany's disease and control centre, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), has reported 65,371 new cases within the last 24 hours – 12,545 more than the previous day. According to the RKI, the real figure could be up to three times higher. Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel has described the situation as “dramatic”. One third of the German population is unvaccinated.

In a statement to show visitors, Siemens says that it “very much regrets” having to pull out of the physical show where it traditionally occupies an entire hall. “After two years, we were looking forward to seeing you again in Nuremberg. But it’s the right decision. We are living up to our responsibility towards our employees, customers and partners.”

Beckhoff says that due to the “aggravated situation, we have decided to not exhibit on site at the SPS in Nuremberg”. It adds that it will be offering daily livestreams from a replica of its stand at its premises. Customers will also be able to hold online meetings with Beckhoff experts.

Sick says “we are still convinced that trade shows are irreplaceable as face-to-face events to maintain personal contact with the customer, demonstrate our innovative strength and make our solutions tangible. However, for the moment, health aspects must be prioritised over economic interests.” It plans to make the information that it was planning to present at the show available on its Web site.

In a statement issued on 18 November, the SPS show organiser Messago says: “Despite cancellations by well-known exhibitors at very short notice, the exhibition will take place in Nuremberg and, after two years, will again offer opportunities for personal encounters and an intensive technical exchange. As a hybrid event, the SPS is offering a particularly diverse programme this year.”

“The aim of the hybrid format is to enable interested parties from all over the world, regardless of their location, to participate and to provide new impulses,” explains says Sylke Schulz-Metzner, SPS vice-president at Mesago.

Several exhibitors have issued statements about why they have decided to go ahead with the show as planned.

For example, Gerhard Borho, chief financial officer at Festo, says: “We believe that with the protective measures that are being taken, it is possible to hold the trade fair. We look forward to the exchange with our customers at the SPS.”

Siemens traditionally bustling exhibition hall at the SPS show will be quiet this year

And ifm electronic’s chairman, Michael Marhofer, adds: “Ifm has successfully participated in the SPS for many years. The leading automation trade fair creates a space for networking and professional exchange and is one of the annual highlights for our company. We are already in the process of setting up and are looking forward to being there this year. Even under the current challenging conditions, meeting our customers in person and discussing the latest trends and developments with industry colleagues is a matter close to our heart.

“In the last 18 months,” he adds, “we have learned one thing: our expert community is very important, because together we drive new technologies forward, regularly exchange ideas and develop solutions – this is what progress in automation thrives on.”

Messago still expects to have more than 700 exhibitors at SPS. In 2019, the last show to be held before the pandemic struck, there were around 1,500 exhibitors.

The show organisers have stepped up protective measures at SPS, with all participants having to wear masks indoors. Outdoors, the masks may be removed, provided that social distancing of 1.5m is maintained. Exhibitors and visitors are being advised to carry test themselves for Covid before entering the exhibition grounds. Messago believes that with these extended measures, SPS will offer “the greatest possible protection for all trade fair participants”.

NürnbergMesse, the organisation that runs the SPS venue, points out that it has successfully run five events since trade fairs were allowed to restart in Germany in September. “The hygiene concept at the Nuremberg exhibition centre consists of a wide range of measures and facilitates a successful event with maximum safety,” says NürnbergMesse CEO, Dr Roland Fleck. “Distancing, masks, hygiene rules and constant fresh air in the exhibition halls due to powerful ventilation systems ensure the best possible conditions at the trade fair.”

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