A peer in the industry referred to GIFA 2015 as the playground for those in the metalcasting industry, where a mall of the technology and services is presented and attendees can shop ‘til they drop to outfit their casting facility with the latest and greatest equipment and materials. This certainly was the case at GIFA 2015 and I must compliment the exhibitors as their stand displays stood head and shoulders above the previous five GIFAs I had attended.
More importantly the organisers Messe Düsseldorf must be praised for continuing to enhance the experience while promoting the future of the industry. This included a large exhibition space dedicated to “Metals4you”, an area where the future engineers, apprentices and foundrymen – the next generation – could immerse themselves in all aspects of foundry practice with the emphasis on recruiting young people into the industry. Students could feel, touch and experience first hand the importance of sand to the industry, for example, as well as live casting demonstrations.
Leading German industry associations, universities and technical institutions, as well as those from around the world were also afforded exhibition space so students could literally ‘sign up’ with their preferred tertiary education institution.
A special programme was developed for visits by students over the age of 15 who are currently planning their future careers. With the help of innovative computer-based technologies such as 3D printing, students were given an interesting demonstration of how clean operations are and how high-tech the foundry industry is nowadays.
Exhibiting companies were encouraged to embrace the “Metals4you” theme to assist in their search for apprentices or budding engineers. A number of companies took up the opportunity and presented their latest technical developments in dedicated portions on their stands, while also providing information about training opportunities at the same time. As a result, young people had the chance to get to know both the companies themselves and their technical know-how.
Education of the future generation and training in-house staff, while imparting information on products and services offered by the industry, is key to developing general society’s understanding of the foundry industry and must be part of our future as it is one of the most effective tools. Education of your customer – buyers and designers of castings – is equally important.
South Africa lags far behind the rest of the world on these aspects when it comes to our business to business and industry related exhibitions. Far too much money is wasted on ‘international’ conferences for the converted that run in conjunction with the exhibition and, the so called networking parties where attendees are only interested in what they can get for free and adding extra weight to their already unhealthy bodies.
I therefore challenge not only the exhibition organisers, but also the associated industry associations/institutes, coupled with government sponsorship, to ensure that exhibition space is allocated to developing the industry’s future and not to just look inward with an eye to maximising the bottom line.
It is all about creating a passion for the industry.