Stuttgart Fair 2019 Impressions and opinions | FASTENER EURASIA MAGAZINE
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Stuttgart Fair 2019 Impressions and opinions

To understand just how much commitment and dedication exhibitors put into participating in a fair, it helps if you look at what happens during the days leading up to the event, when the stands are being set up in a quasi-frenzy, with operators, craftsmen, carpenters, electricians and architects working side by side yet managing never to get in each other’s way. Then, out of the total chaos of the day before comes the miracle of the opening day, with all the pavilions bright and shiny, ready to welcome the visitors.
Taking part in a fair is not just a huge physical undertaking, it is also a big investment in terms of cost. You could, at this point, ask: “In this IT-dominated world, do we still need trade fairs?"
The answer? Over time, the very nature of fairs has changed enormously. These events used to have a strictly commercial bent, focused solely on the acquisition of orders. Today, taking part in a fair means primarily getting a chance to meet clients and it is an important opportunity for dialogue. 
This applies to all fairs in general, but takes on particular value for sector events such as the International Exhibition for the Fastener and Fixing Industry at the Stuttgart Exhibition Grounds from 19 to 21 March 2019.
This was the 8th edition of an important appointment that saw attendance by 12,070 visitors from 90 countries, all there to see the latest new entries showcased by fastener producers.
In a net exhibition space of 22,200 m², a total of 987 exhibitors from 48 countries presented their ranges of screws, bolts, industrial fastenings, fixings for building, installation and assembly systems, and machines for the production of screws and bolts. According to the results of a survey, 70% of visitors were from the EU, with Germany in the lead, followed by Italy and Great Britain. Then Poland, France, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Spain. There were also large numbers of Asian visitors and exhibitors, especially from China and Taiwan.
Most visitors were wholesalers of screws, bolts and fixings in general, followed by producers, technicians and builders. 
Predictably, participants’ opinions on the fair are quite varied even if they generally agree that the Stuttgart Fastener Fair is the most important sector event in Europe. 
“This fair in Stuttgart,” highlights Paolo Dell’Era from Dell’Era Ermanno e Figlio Srl, the leading Italian producer of screws, “is very important for us producers and therefore we must take part. 
The first day was yesterday, and things were a bit quiet compared to our expectations and also to past years. Perhaps due to the difficult phase the market is going through, which is not one of the best.
In fact a brilliant January-June 2018 was then followed by a moment of deceleration in business that seems to be continuing into these early months of 2019.
Forecasts are for a real recovery in work during the back end of 2019.
The bottom line is that I am staying optimistic even though there really is a visible slowdown in trends.”
Quite a different outlook from Martin Welp, CEO of Dörken MKS-Systeme GmbH & Co. KG, a leading company in the surface treatment sector:
“First of all, I have to reiterate that this Fastener Fair in Stuttgart is one of the most, if not the most, important events for the European fastener sector. Having said that, I can say that we have a very good first day of the fair. We had many qualified visitors on our stand, interested in our products.
The economic situation in general is currently critical due to a series of reasons: difficulty in the automotive sector due to the pollution problem and, as a consequence penalisation of diesel engines; then there is the economic-political debate with China, not to mention others. 
In general however, I am still confident because, even if we are not in an excellent position today, I am certain we will see the economy recover before the end of the year.”
Another optimist is Mario Caracciolo from NOF Metal Coatings, leaders in surface coatings, who says: “From when I set foot on our stand, clients and potential clients just kept on coming. I have to say that we have had very interesting, qualified contacts.”
“This time round,” says Laura Missaglia from Scob Srl., Italian leaders in the production of heat-treated screws, “the Stuttgart Fair has been disappointing for us. Compared to other editions, I have noted a definite slowdown in visitor flow and during negotiations you could feel the weight that is holding down the current economic situation.”
visit to the exhibition pavilions reveals large numbers of exhibitors from Asia and, above all, from China and Taiwan. 
Grouped together in rows of standardised stands, the fact that the various Chinese producers showcased similar ranges to visitors was the cause for some bad feeling.
“Too many Chinese manufacturers offering very similar products,” complains Bruce Yan from the Halyan Gete Hardware Co. , Ltd. “are all showing together in this pavilion at the fair, resulting in increased competitiveness, whereas more strategic positioning of the stands would have been more opportune. This is the third time we have taken part in this event, but at past editions, layout of Chinese exhibitors was different and more satisfactory.”
After talking a while with exhibitors from the Republic of China, I move on to chat with those from Taiwan, who, on a par with their Chinese counterparts, have set up a whole series of standardised stands.
I speak with David Tsan, President of the W A TAI Industrial Co., Ltd. in Taiwan, and ask him: “Doesn’t the huge concentration of Asian producers at this fair, especially from China and Taiwan, mean that you end up competing with each other and therefore much less with the European manufacturers?”
“I have to agree,” says David Tsan, “that the crowding of Taiwanese stands here is due to the limited space at our disposal and was therefore necessary. We couldn’t improve the situation, given that all Taiwanese producers want to take part in this fair, which they consider very important.” 
I ask him his opinion on the current economic situation in Europe.
“We get the impression that the European economy is headed towards a slowdown, but what is important for us is to continue to keep our work trend high and therefore, if European demand drops, we turn to other markets, such as America, Canada or others.”
A new entry at this year’s fair was the “Bonding & Adhesive Technology Area” dedicated exclusively to bonding solutions. Exhibitors showcased their innovative bonding and gluing technologies, suited particularly to lightweight constructions in various sectors, including automotive and electronics.
The second day of the fair saw great interest in the ceremony for presentation of the “Fastener Innovator” award, held on the “Fastener + Fixing Magazine” magazine stand.
Three companies received awards for their innovative technologies in the field of fasteners.
The winner of the competition was TR Fastenings Ltd for its innovative EPW self-tapping screw for thin gauge sheet metal.
The EPW screw is a self-extruding, high strength thread-form fastener which creates its own female thread in punched sheet metal, thereby dramatically reducing assembly times and costs. The screw works by being aligned to the pilot hole in the sheet metal, where it then forms the extruded collar, combining the forming of the thread and the creation of a strong extruded profile, before finally tightening and clamping into the metal. 
The SACMA Group company Ingramatic came second, with its smallest thread rolling machine inspired by the I-Thread concept. This new machine is fitted with the latest technology available for die holders, like the feeder system, powered by a torque motor/servomotor that guarantees ultra-precise feeding of the mini-sheets into the mould.
The most innovative characteristic is the body of the slide that glides on linear guides to guarantee high roller precision, enabling production of extremely precise, reliable parts.
Third place went to Growermetal Srl for its GROWER TENKEEP® flat safety washers, introduced onto the market for the first time at the fair in Stuttgart.
Compared with other safety washers, GROWER TENKEEP® has two  knurls with different geometry on each of its two surfaces, specifically designed to guarantee maximum performance against loosening of the bolted joints, even in the presence of extreme vibrations and dynamic loads. 
The next International Exhibition for the Fastener and Fixing Industry in Stuttgartwill be held from 18 to 20 May 2021 at the Stuttgart Exhibition Grounds.