“In the long term we are optimistic about the future”
Malte Seifert has acted as the new Project Director of ALUMINIUM since October 2019. In an interview with the “Aluminium Praxis” magazine he talked about the plans for ALUMINIUM 2020 in times of Corona and highlighted new themes featured by this year’s trade fair.
Mr Seifert, you took over as a Project Director for ALUMINIUM 2020 a few months ago. How does the Corona crisis influence planning for the trade fair in October?
Coronavirus is currently hitting the whole economy extremely hard – around the globe. Many sectors of industry have come under enormous pressure. There is also a tremendous amount of movement going on in the international trade-fair calender. We take current developments very seriously and monitor them closely. At the moment nobody can predict how this will affect trade fairs in the second half of the year and ALUMINIUM, in particular. But like everybody else we pin our hopes on this situation improving as soon as possible so we can provide the aluminium industry with the market platform it now needs more urgently than ever.
What is the current mood among exhibitors?
Many, of course, are very concerned about further developments. This looked entirely different only a few weeks ago when we posted a new record for booked exhibition space. The aluminium market is fundamentally a growth market. We will have to see and watch in detail how it develops over the coming weeks though.
Since its debut 23 years ago the ALUMINIUM trade fair has experienced unprecedented, positive growth posting marked increases in the number of exhibitors. How do you rate the further, long-term development of ALUMINIUM?
In the long run we look to the future with optimism. Aluminium will be among the winners in the race for sustainable and lightweight materials. Reaching climate targets and the reduction of CO2 emissions will only be possible by using more aluminium. The mobility sectors cannot do without it and there is still plenty of potential to tap into in the construction and packaging sectors, too. So there are still plenty of development opportunities for ALUMINIUM.
What trends can be discovered at the trade fair this year?
This year will focus on the themes new mobility, sustainability, the construction sector and additive manufacturing. We will demonstrate the contribution aluminium can make to tomorrow’s mobility, smart and mega cities and sustainable product lifecycles in many applications, to name but a few themes. Consumers are demanding products manufactured in efficient and environmentally friendly ways and that are 100% recyclable. This opens up vast opportunities for aluminium as a material. Other themes will be the connecting of machines and the potential of 3D printing in aluminium.
How do you address these themes?
In the exhibition area we will create new presentation areas and themed pavilions, to name but two measures. For “Digital Manufacturing” we already started activities two years ago. In terms of additive manufacturing we will be cooperating with ACAM, the Aachen Center for Additive Manufacturing, for the first time. We will design an exhibition area and put together a lecture programme.
What changes will be introduced compared to the previous trade fair?
In future, more emphasis will be placed on staging innovations and ideas for the future at ALUMINIUM. We primarily want to place forward-looking solutions centre stage rather than mapping the status quo. To this end we maintain a close exchange with our partners and exhibitors.
How many companies do you expect to exhibit in 2020? And how well represented are exhibitors from abroad?
We expect more than 1,000 exhibitors to attend, two thirds of these from abroad. This is a high percentage that evidences the international relevance of the trade fair. What we cannot foresee at the moment, however, is how the Corona crisis will influence future developments and how this will impact the industry.
Looking at the list of exhibitors – from which sectors of aluminium production, finishing and processing or upstream supplies would you like to see more companies taking part in future?
We are very well positioned in the areas of aluminium production, machinery and plants. I still see potential in the field of metal processing – as well as science, an area that triggers many innovations. In the long run we want to incorporate above all more application industries in ALUMINIUM with a view to comprehensively mapping the complete process chain down to the finished product.
Digitalisation has changed communication fundamentally. With communication at the core of each trade fair – how do you counter this development?
Digitalisation will not replace the “live experience” of trade fairs and the human, “face-to-face” factor between suppliers and customers but it will definitely complement it meaningfully. To this end we have created digital services that accompany the trade fair as the highlight for the industry. A case in point is our online Matchmaking platform that puts exhibitors and visitors in touch with each other long before the trade fair starts and this was already used by many successfully at the previous event.
What does this mean in practical terms?
All registered visitors and exhibitors will be granted access to ALUMINIUM Matchmaking. In line with the interests they have indicated when registering, all participants will receive personalised proposals for contacting potential manufacturers, customers, cooperation partners, investors or distributors. They can make contact with them and arrange a personal appointment at the trade fair. By leveraging the advantages of digitalisation we make the analogue trade fair visit as efficient as possible for all parties involved and offer an additional “meeting platform” beyond the trade fair proper.
How do you rate the current situation in the aluminium industry? How important is globalisation for the sector?
The aluminium industry is largely globalised already with products flowing across supply chains all over the world. This was made blatantly obvious not least due to the trade disputes in the most recent past. ALUMINIUM itself is a global brand today with a network of other events. With our ALUMINIUM trade fairs in China, India, the USA, Brazil and the Middle East we are represented on the most relevant markets and provide the industry with the corresponding platform. Some 100 enterprises – including the key players – are now accompanying us as global partners at our trade fairs around the globe.
How do you see the further long-term development of the ALUMINIUM brand?
Aluminium with all its material properties makes a decisive contribution to the future orientation of global sectors of industry. We expect demand for aluminium to rise by up to 50% over the coming 30 years. We will accompany this development with the ALUMINIUM trade fair and show what the world of tomorrow will look like with aluminium and why this material will become even more indispensable. All in line with the motto: “ALUMINIUM – Meet the global material of the future”.