On the eve of GIFA 2023, it all started with bright sunshine, cool drinks and appetising finger food at the MEERBAR location in Düsseldorf’s Medienhafen: At the open air event “GTP & Friends”, employees from GTP Schäfer‘s main location in Grevenbroich as well as our locations in Turkey, China, India, the USA and Brazil and our international sales partners and friends of GTP Schäfer met under a blue sky to meet again, get to know each other and network. The atmosphere was excellent and the anticipation for the next day was enormous.
Compared to GIFA 2019, there were both perceived and actual fewer visitors to GIFA 2023: While four years ago there were 72,500 visitors, this year saw a decrease to 63,000, representing a drop of around 13%. Will this trend continue? (More on this later).
On the other hand, the decline in visitors was hardly noticeable at our stand. There were several reasons for this:
As an eye-catcher, we had positioned a robot at the centre of the booth, which was developed in collaboration with our trade fair partner Matheus Industrie-Automation this year. This robot moved risers fully automatically from a supply pallet and placed them efficiently, quickly and precisely onto three different moulds. This spectacular insight into the future of riser technology inspired many visitors think outside the box and thus achieved the desired effect: the robot and the application it carried out were the talk of the day on and around our booth.
Other trade fair highlights included our innovative NET-Technology®, our GTP-ToolBox®, which is unique in the industry, and our newly developed special moulding material CERAPEARL 3D, enabling the production of cores and moulds using 3D printing.
The undisputed fair hero, however, was our further developed PXT/PKXT feeder series. It garnered the greatest interest among our expert stand visitors. The reason is eviden: our PXT-PKXT risers set a new standard in the foundry industry in terms of performance, user-friendliness and cost-effectiveness.
According to our Managing Director Jörg Schäfer, GIFA Düsseldorf offers the Grevenbroich-based company the opportunity to present its new developments to the global foundry industry. It is, as the feedback from stand visitors confirmed, the most respected trade fair in this industry.
Consequently, the question arises as to why the number of visitors has nevertheless dropped by a significant approx. 13 % compared to the last GIFA. The answer is relatively simple: the foundry industry continues to suffer from the economic after-effects of the Corona pandemic – and currently from the energy crisis triggered by the Ukraine war. The past two years in particular have been marked by catastrophes the likes of which we have not seen in Europe in decades – especially not in this concentrated form.
From our point of view, there is a danger that the number of visitors to GIFA Düsseldorf will continue to fall in the future and that the importance of this globally highly recognised trade fair will also decline. This is because GIFA is expanding(ing) its trade fair activities to three more cities: Thus
(This year there will also be the China International Casting Expo 2023 in Shanghai from 29.10. – 01.12. 2023).
For GIFA, this step very likely represents a significant boost in business. But how does this development appear from the perspective of exhibitors like us? Will we continue our large-scale (main) trade fair presence at GIFA in Düsseldorf? Or will we be forced to present our riser systems and innovations to our customers or prospective new customers overseas – all while possibly managing the same overall trade fair budget?
In addition to smaller stand areas, this would result in considerably higher logistics costs and significantly higher personnel expenses. Should many exhibitors opt for the second alternative, the size and importance of GIFA Düsseldorf would automatically decrease – which we would very much regret.
One potential solution could involve transitioning traditional industry trade fairs to digital-only events, similar to what has already occurred with the Tech Open Air Festival (TOA), re:publica, and DIGICON. But our beloved foundry industry is still light years away from embracing such a shift.
We can all be very curious to see how the trade fair scene will develop worldwide and especially at GIFA Düsseldorf.