Higher international character, clear trends, satisfied exhibitors, but fewer visitors: these are the keywords to summarize ACHEMA 2018.
From 11 to 15 June 2018, 3,737 exhibitors from 55 countries presented the latest equipment and innovative processes for the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries on more than 132,000 m² at the world's leading trade fair for the process industry.
By far the strongest growth was recorded by the Pharmaceutical, Packaging and Storage Technology exhibition group, where two additional halls were rented due to strong demand. In view of the strong trend towards digitization and automation, it is not surprising that the "Instrumentation, Control and Automation Techniques" group was also able to grow. However, "traditional areas" such as mechanical process engineering and safety technology also occupied slightly more space, while other groups such as plant construction or laboratory technology recorded slight losses.
Behind Germany (1,644 exhibitors / 78,909 m²), China (342 exhibitors / 5,694 m²) and Italy (307 exhibitors / 12366 m²) showed the largest number of exhibitors, both with significant growth compared to the previous event in 2015. The number of exhibitors from India and the Russian Federation also increased, as well as from Poland, South Korea and Turkey. The number of exhibitors from the Netherlands, Belgium and France remained constant, while the number of exhibitors from the USA, Austria and Great Britain declined. The proportion of exhibitors from abroad rose again to 56 %, which is higher than ever before.
The products and technologies presented aroused great interest among the audience. "The exhibitors we talked to and we ourselves had a very successful fair," said Jürgen Nowicki, Chairman of the ACHEMA Committee and Member of the Linde Engineering Board. Uwe Harbauer, Member of the Board of Management of Bosch Packaging Technology and Head of the Pharmaceuticals Product Group at Bosch Packaging Technology, shares this impression: "Achema has proven once again, that it is the most important international trade fair for Bosch Packaging Technology in the field of pharmaceutical and process technology. Our booth was very well attended throughout the week and we had many qualified discussions with trade visitors from all over the world".
A very eye-catching trend this year: the numerous booths where visitors could experience systems and equipment in "Augmented Reality" with the help of special glasses or even test their skills in completely virtual environments. The three focus topics were very well accepted. Numerous exhibitors presented modular solutions and intelligent components for the factory of tomorrow under the label "Flexible Production". "Biotech for Chemistry" included process development and plants from the laboratory to the fermenter that integrate biotechnological processes into the chemical industry. "Chemical and Pharma Logistics" made the progressive integration of the supply chain visible and appealed to new target groups that are increasingly no longer "only" service providers but system partners of the process industry.
"We have been participating at ACHEMA for more than 60 years - and the fair is still a highlight for us. Our approach of focusing even more strongly on consulting services in solid/liquid separation has proven its worth. Many discussions revolved around possible attempts to enable us to offer the respective company a tailor-made filtration solution. In the pharmaceutical industry, the focus is shifting more and more to the modular configuration of systems for use in various applications," says Detlef Steidl, Director of Sales Filtration Technology at BHS-Sonthofen. "Compared to previous years, the number of visitors has decreased slightly. This was particularly true on the first day of the fair. At the same time, internationality continues to rise: in 2018, exhibitors and visitors from Asia in particular increasingly shaped the image of the fair.
A drawback for the organisers was the drop in visitor numbers to around 145,000, which the organisers attribute primarily to the more complex registration procedure, due to the increased security requirements for major events. "This certainly cost a few spontaneous visitors," says Dr. Thomas Scheuring, CEO of DECHEMA Exhibitions. " Nevertheless, we will analyze the numbers very diligently" The results of the visitor and exhibitor survey, from which further information on the visitor structure can be obtained, will be available shortly.
The ACHEMA Congress covered the entire spectrum of chemical process technology and biotechnology. The presentations allowed insights into current research and the latest scientific results. On the first three days of the fair, current topics in particular were dealt with on a separate theme day: Resources, digitization and energy and climate. Above all, the digitisation topics, but also the lectures on the subject of energy, aroused particular interest. The concept of the PRAXISforums, which was introduced in 2015, was very well received; the events in the immediate neighbourhood of the halls, which are primarily intended to bring exhibitors and users together, were well attended throughout.
The two panel discussions were also very well attended. The question "Plastic-Free Europe - is a plastic-free Europe possible and sensible?” was debated controversially. The panelists agreed that plastic is indispensable and that a combined approach is needed to address the problem of plastic waste. Of course, it is particularly efficient to avoid plastic waste wherever possible.
On the topic "Digitalization meets process Industry", experts from industry and science discussed the challenges facing industry. Do companies have to change their business models in view of digitization? With regard to the right approach for the digitization of the process industry, the panelists agreed that every company should have a digital strategy that focuses on the customer.
The next stop for the process industry is AchemAsia, which will be held for the first time in Shanghai from May 21 to 23, 2019. As the " International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production in China", the "little sister of ACHEMA" focuses on the current trends in the process industry in China and Asia.
The next ACHEMA will take place in Frankfurt from June 14-18, 2021