What We Saw: Diesel Progress’ “Take” on bauma 2013
The editors of Diesel Progress North America and Diesel Progress International penned the following reflections on the recently completed bauma 2013.
As a journalist, hyperbole from any source tends to generate significant eye-rolling. But when the Messe Munchen organization sent out its first post-show wrap-up hours after the end of bauma 2013 and used words like “gigantic, amazing, supreme,” I essentially shrugged and thought “yeah, pretty much.” bauma indeed reigns supreme, indeed was gigantic (with 530,000 attendees) and it remains the only event where in every staging — even after more than 20 years in this business — I still come across machine manufacturers and suppliers that I never heard of.
The most interesting aspect of bauma 2013 was the dearth of long faces. Considering it was in central Europe, which has suffered near-terminal economic conditions for several years, both the attendees and the people in the equipment and component stands seemed clearly optimistic about the future. Maybe it’s just because bauma does that to people. It’s hard to see the gleaming equipment and the advanced new engines, transmissions and powertrain technology and not come away thinking that it’s a pretty cool industry where neat things are really happening. Hard not to feel good about that.
Emerging from a brightly-lit backdrop of gleaming new engines, stunning machinery, the latest components and people eating unfeasibly large sausages came the impression that here was an entire industry desperate and within reaching distance of breaking free from the financial shackles wrapped around it.
Of course, bauma was a monumentally large impressive trade show attracting huge crowds eager to see the latest in construction machinery and all of the parts, services and also people which make it such an interesting sector.
The mood on the stands was bubbly, the exhibits were eye-catching, the fizzy drinks were uncorked and the banter seemed jolly. Surely all was well in the industry?
Well if you looked beyond the smiling façades, the doubts, concerns, and cravings for better days remained. Yes, many, many companies are ticking along but it’s difficult for them to be eternally cheerful when the world’s financial uncertainties linger on and important markets remain depressed. Let’s call it the economic elephant in the room.
Bauma 2013 was six years in the making for me, as it was for many of the exhibitors and attendees who were forced to stay home in 2010. After the disappointment of missing the event, and then looking forward to its return for nearly 1100 days, it was a great feeling to return to the exhibition center
Conversations at the show inevitably began with what it meant to miss the event three years earlier because of a volcano and then quickly caught up to the current day. “There is a lot to see” was the understatement of the week. There were many new products to cover and many kilometers to walk, visiting companies I’ve known for years and starting relationships with manufacturers and suppliers that were new to me.
Outside of the event’s 570,000 m2 of exhibit space the European economy might be suffering, but beyond the turnstiles of the exhibition center there was optimism and good energy. Booths were rarely empty, and the aisles were packed with people from all over the world.
I’ve been home more than a week now, and it’s the unique bauma skyline that I’ve told friends and family about the most -- the tower cranes, lattice boom crawler cranes, material handlers and other massive booms that reach into the sky above the site, once the Munich-Riem Airport. Sadly I never counted all of the cranes; there was never enough time.
Others will comment on the size and scope of bauma 2013. And it was all that. Huge, busy, surprisingly upbeat. It was an incredible week, despite the show’s long running inability to get people on and off the fairgrounds easily. My primary “take away” from the week is more parochial. We Americans do live in a bit of a geographical bubble. Drive five hours in any direction in Europe and you can be in three or four different countries. Five hours here and you’re only halfway across some states.
All shows claim to be the “most global,” but for my money bauma wins. It truly is the crossroads of the world’s off-highway industry.
Show organizers claim over 200 countries showed up for the event. I buy that number. The traffic that passed through Diesel Progress’ booth in hall A4 was amazing. I don’t know if all 200 countries showed up, but it sure felt like most of them did. The conversations with visitors from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas was incredible, uplifting and very insightful. Trade shows are not an inexpensive thing to do, but on that basis, the payback from bauma 2013, while not a purely measureable metric, was more than worth it.
I have attended bauma since the early ‘90s. Back then the show was still held downtown Munich and was considered as part of the Group of Three: bauma, Intermat and Samoter were The Shows for the construction industry in Europe. Twenty years later, bauma is thriving and seems to have grown as large as the three shows put together.
Big, of course, is the first impression anyone had. Almost way too big in the opinion heard from visitors and exhibitors alike. Busy is the second adjective that comes to mind: the 540,000 official visitors that the show organization claimed, stormed the halls and open grounds from day one.
The most recurrent theme of bauma 2013 was very likely efficiency. It was an ever-present selling incentive for OEM’s and Tier 1 suppliers as well. Stage 4 vehicles, full lineups of Stage4-compliant engines, drivetrain components, hydraulics… everywhere efficiency was promoted, explained, discussed.
There also seems to be a comeback in hybrid concepts, after a period in which the technology appeared to have been sleeping a bit. Perhaps the upcoming Stage 4 emissions level, with its related cost issues, will give a boost to technologies that before have been simply too expensive to be considered commercially.
Coverage of specific new product news and notes can be found elsewhere on this site and in the May (and subsequent issues) of Diesel Progress International.