Records break, confdence reigns in “Lift City.”
by Angela C. Baldwin
Signs of the lift industry were everywhere in Augsburg, Germany, during the week of October 15-18, 2019, – literally. From the headrests in taxicabs to the sides of buildings, the “Lift City” logo was omnipresent. The host city assumed the new moniker for the duration of Interlift 2019, demonstrating its commitment to and enthusiasm for the long-running exposition.
According to Augsburg Lord Mayor Dr. Kurt Gribl, the Bavarian city invests in the biennial event because it brings an economic boom, and Augsburg’s investment has never been bigger than for Interlift 2019, which inaugurated a new Hall 2 costing US$24.5 million. Gribl called it “a record investment in record time.” And, during the fair’s opening ceremony, Interlift organizers Thilo and Henning Könicke, managing directors of AFAG Messen und Ausstellungen GmbH, and Achim Hütter, president of VFA-Interlift e.V., thanked the city of Augsburg for its support as they ushered in the 14th and largest-yet Interlift.
With unseasonably mild weather outside and impressive booths and a comprehensive VFA Forum inside, Interlift 2019 broke attendance and exhibitor records. Despite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, the U.S./China trade war and ongoing issues in the Middle East, the trade fair remained largely untouched by the political and economic issues of the day. Instead, organizers described an industry “unimpressed by economic downturns.”
With enthusiasm and confdence, 577 exhibitors flled Messe Augsburg’s 46,500 m2 with colorful, interactive booths that showcased thousands of products ranging from elevator doors and cabins to monitoring systems and safety gears. While business was the order of the day, many booths also promoted socializing, with cofee bars, local treats and beer taps aplenty. More booths than ever before sported giant screens that played videos on loops, while company representatives expounded on their newest components or quietest elevators. There was so much to see, it was hard to know where to look frst.
According to Interlift outcome reports, visitors totaled 21,200 and hailed from 108 countries, with Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and France producing the most attendees. Total foreign visitors equaled 57%, a fgure comparable to the 2017 iteration. According to European Lift Association (ELA) President Roberto Zappa, at its heart, “Interlift is a place where business and culture are exchanged.” Such exchanges were easy to see throughout the nine halls and particularly highlighted in the strategically placed country pavilions, like Italy’s, and in the Wittur CUBE. (See sidebar.)
As your author walked the winding halls of Messe Augsburg, each as interesting and inspiring as the one before, words from keynote speaker Frank Salzgeber, head of innovation and ventures ofce for the European Space Association, were continually recalled. His talk, “We Need More Space,” centered on change and “working until you get it right.” He encouraged the audience to welcome challenges, be skeptical of success and stay curious. And, he reminded them, “Innovation takes place on the edges.” Interlift exhibitors appeared to be quite an edgy bunch, as innovation was on display in no small amount.
It was evident around every corner and along each corridor. There was:
- Aspar’s new overspeed governor
- Wurtec’s V2 False Car for use in mid- and high-rise rail installations
- Ametal’s MINILIFT®, a 3D model lift used to demonstrate the Aries Complete Lift System, as well as educate those entering the industry
- CEDES’ new iDiscovery that serves as “a position supervisor unit” and works with the company’s absolute positioning system to “take over the safety-relevant functions of an elevator” (ELEVATOR WORLD, December 2019)
- Cobianchi’s new safety gears with an easy-release mechanism
- Alimak’s new Alimak ME, a marine elevator featuring loading capacities of up to 1,600 kg that does not require a machine room
- Gervall’s new overspeed governors and tension weights
- Serapid’s attention-grabbing car lift in action
- EMF Motor’s small, light home lift motor
- UVIS’ new TiTANO product, an antimicrobial coating for elevators (EW, December 2019)
These products merely scratch the surface of what visitors saw on display or could touch and experience for themselves during the fair’s four days.
Running concurrent with the exhibition, the VFA Forum, located in the new Hall 2, featured 50 experts over four days speaking on a variety of subjects, with a focus on digitalization.
Interlift is a place where business and culture are exchanged.
— ELA President Roberto Zappa
Well-attended, it also highlighted international lift markets, including Poland, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, India, Africa and the U.S.; explained current changes to international regulations; and discussed international trends and technologies. Hütter heralded the Forum “a great success,” adding:
“There were approximately 3,000 visitors, which is about a 30% increase from two years ago. We were worried because of the new location, which posed some initial noise issues that we compensated for, but it went very well.”
At Interlift’s closing press conference, organizers stated they were pleased with the fair’s outcome. “We started out with uncertainty because of the global situation,” Hütter admitted, “but, in the end, the numbers look very good, and there was good camaraderie.”
AFAG Project Manager Joachim Kalsdorf agreed, adding:
“On behalf of AFAG and VFA, I must say this was one of the most relaxed Interlifts in the setup phase. That feeling continued during the week, and then we had a very nice and successful exhibitor dinner at the WWK-Arena. Almost 600 attended, and everyone felt welcome. They were comfortable, and the food was very good.”
Henning Könicke also agreed that the fair was very successful, saying:
“For the frst time, the new topic of ‘Lift City’ was used, and it made everyone feel welcome in Augsburg, anytime and anywhere. This was a very international show with high-quality visitors. Interlift is still estimated by visitors as the leading industry trade fair.”
According to a survey given during Interlift by GMM, 68% of companies rated their Interlift participation as a “1” or “2” out of “5.” Ninety-three percent of visitors rated their business results as “very good” to “satisfactory.” More than nine of 10 visitors were thoroughly satisfed with their visit and stated their willingness to attend a future Interlift as “very high.” Those are good results for organizers who will soon begin preparations for the next Interlift, slated for October 19-22, 2021.
Despite the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, the U.S./ China trade war and ongoing issues in the Middle East, the trade fair remained largely untouched by the political and economic issues of the day. Instead, organizers described an industry “unimpressed by economic downturns.”
EW Europe and EFESME Celebrate Partnership
On the morning of October 17, 2019, during Interlift in Augsburg, Germany, the European Federation for Elevator Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (EFESME) and Elevator World, Inc. held a press conference at Messe Augsburg’s Panorama Saal to ofcially launch its partnership. In the months leading up to Interlift, EFESME partnered with Elevator World to make ELEVATOR WORLD Europe the ofcial publication of EFESME. As part of the partnership, EW Europe will devote an entire section to EFESME publications and articles.
The many attendees were welcomed to the press conference with cofee and pastries before speeches were given by EFESME President Massimo Bezzi, followed by Elevator World President and CEO T. Bruce MacKinnon.
Bezzi opened by explaining that EFESME’s role representing the interests of small and medium-sized lift manufacturers and operators at the European level has grown over the past few years. He explained:
“For this reason, and because we frmly believe in the importance of our work and in the need to protect, support and defend the SMEs who have placed their trust in us, we proposed to Elevator World a stricter collaboration, and we are very pleased this idea came into fruition.
“The 360° view of the magazine and the quality of its content will give us the opportunity to support the growth of our members and associates, thanks to the possibility that the magazine ofers us to go more into depth on diferent topics and issues.”
Bezzi also said the partnership is all the more meaningful because MacKinnon is a good friend. MacKinnon thanked Bezzi for his friendship and said, “Just like EFESME, Elevator World helps small and medium-sized businesses, making this partnership a good ft for us.” MacKinnon shared some of Elevator World’s history, leading up to the launch of EW Europe in 2019. “We want to serve the European market by telling their stories, and this partnership with EFESME will help us do that.”
Wittur CUBE Explores “Freedom of Components”
For the third consecutive Interlift, Wittur occupied the 1,500-m² dedicated Hall 8 pavilion, now known as the Wittur CUBE. This year, the CUBE saw record attendance. The manufacturer exhibited an extensive range of its products under the slogan “Freedom of Components.” Using colorful, vibrant signage, the CUBE was arranged in six theme areas:
- Systems, with Wittur W line and W line EQ elevator packages with Wittur components
- Drives, with the new WSG-RF compact gearless drive for residential application
- Modernization, hosting specialized components for elevator overhauling
- Safeties, with the full range of shaft equipment and safety gears
- Doors, which took center stage in “Doors Avenue,” crossing the whole Wittur CUBE with the complete range of Wittur doors, from residential to special applications
- Innovation, which featured several “digitally enabled” products, including a live demonstration of remote condition monitoring of a Wittur drive hosted at Wittur’s Dresden, Germany, factory. Moreover, visitors could wirelessly connect to a sample of Wittur digitally enabled ECO+ door drive with their smartphones.
Hosted in a special area, the Wittur Digital Car Experience was undeniably the most popular exhibit in the CUBE. A Wittur cab was ftted with three mirrored walls equipped with six monitors using LU-VE Gateway technology, which transforms common lift car mirrors into interactive touchscreen displays managed remotely via the internet. Visitors — many of whom had to wait in line for several minutes before getting their chance — experienced several unique environments, complete with sights, sounds and smells: from a walk in the forest and a winter train trip, to a high-rise panoramic ascent and a minute on the International Space Station.
According to Wittur CEO Antoine Doutriaux:
“Interlift is an important occasion to demonstrate how seriously Wittur takes the changing needs of its customers into account, by proposing sensible innovations in competitive products with real benefts for the elevator professionals.”