Sometimes less is more. Did the GMTN exhibitors have foresight?

If Messe Düsseldorf, the organisers of “The Bright World of Metals” exhibitions, which incorporate GIFA, METEC, THERMPROCESS AND NEWCAST (GMTN), had not been pressurised by exhibitors to make an about turn on their decision to hold the GMTN exhibitions on a three-year cycle rather than a four-year cycle, a sizeable amount of us would be making last minute preparations to journey to Europe. The decision has meant that GMTN exhibitions will maintain the four-year cycle that has been the custom since 2003.

At the time I welcomed the decision to shorten the cycle, but as we all know it is human nature to have an aversion to change. Nevertheless if you consider the costs involved in exhibiting at such an exhibition this could be the overriding factor.

If you consider that China has a foundry exhibition every year, and sometimes twice a year, India has an exhibition every year, and even the US’s CastExpo takes place once every three years, it was about time the GMTN cycle was shortened. The competition from these events would have put pressure on the organisers and I am sure they took this aspect into consideration when making their decision.

However, the organisers bowed to pressure. At the time the organisers issued the following statement: “For some time now, switching to a three-year interval has appeared to us to be necessary, because the innovation cycles in the foundry technology and metallurgy sectors are shortening too. It has proved to be the case that a shortening of the interval would put too much pressure on the corporate exhibitors. Since Messe Düsseldorf always acts in line with its customers’ requirements, it has decided to maintain the four-year interval with the four leading trade fairs GIFA, METEC, THERMPROCESS AND NEWCAST – at the request of large numbers of exhibitors.”

I wonder how many of those exhibitors that put the pressure on the organisers would have the same opinion today. Even though the foundry industry is referred to as a ‘black art’, recent changes, or more appropriately put, advancements in the industry including digitisation, 3D printing and additive manufacturing, are enabling the production of objects of nearly any shape without the limitations associated with traditional manufacturing methods. This has resulted in an increasingly fast speed of innovation in the foundry and thermo process industries. You can add Industry 4.0, The Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence to the list of advancements.

Have the other countries that have more frequent exhibitions suffered? No I don’t think so if you consider India. It has been announced that India has overtaken the United States to emerge as the second largest annual producer of castings, behind China, a country whose annual GDP growth rate has averaged 9.63 per cent from 1989 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 15.40 per cent in the first quarter of 1993 and a record low of 3.80 per cent in the fourth quarter of 1990. According to the same Trading Economics report the Chinese economy expanded by 6.8 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018.

Which country would not want to have a growth rate of that amount? Even the record low would suffice for many countries. The Indian economy expanded 7.2 per cent year-on-year in the last three months of 2017, well above an upwardly revised 6.5 per cent. The US economy expanded an annualised 2.3 per cent on quarter in the first quarter of 2018, below 2.9 per cent in the previous period but beating market expectations of 2 per cent. The Eurozone’s gross domestic product grew by 0.4 per cent in the three months to March 2018. The German economy expanded a seasonally adjusted 0.3 per cent on quarter in the three months to March 2018, following a 0.6 per cent growth in the previous period and missing market expectations of 0.4 per cent.

If you take these figures into account then it is no wonder the exhibitors objected.