CeMAT made its Down Under debut in Sydney.
Leading materials handling show CeMAT made its Australian debut last week, and Forkliftaction.com News
editor Allan Leibowitz was there.
Comparisons with the hugely successful Hannover CeMAT events and the newer version closer to home in Shanghai were inevitable, so the smaller Sydney start-up had big shoes to fill. That was an enormous challenge in a tough and uncertain economic climate, but organisers were buoyed by the results.
Wolfgang Pech, senior vice president of CeMAT brand owner Deutsche Messe,
was satisfied with the first show. "From the beginning, our plan was to set up a show with about 1,500 sqm (of exhibition space) ... and we have managed to fill the hall up to 2,500 sqm, which is more than we expected. We had more than 100 exhibitors, which is also a good number. And regarding the number of visitors, we are also satisfied," he says.
Pech says exhibitors have told CeMAT organisers that they had good leads and expressed strong support for the Australian event.
Exhibitors who spoke to Forkliftaction.com News were almost all disappointed with the visitor numbers, but most were happy with the calibre of contacts.
Looking towards 2016, Pech flags lots of work on building the delegate database.
"We are not interested in crowded aisles and people walking about and not talking about business," he explains. "We want to make sure that our exhibitors have time to talk to their customers and can follow up leads and can talk business."
CeMAT's Wolfgang Pech with Yvette O'Connor and Ann Hofmans from Forkliftaction.com
Pech is not concerned about the absence of some big OEM brands. While CeMAT is continuing discussions with the companies which were absent this year, Pech says he wants to ensure that the event is not just a forklift show: "Our intention is to establish a platform for the intralogistics supply chain, including all parts of the supply chain".
CeMat will return to Australia in July 2016, this time to Melbourne, a move which has already drawn positive feedback from exhibitors, according to the organiser. "There is much more industry in the surrounding (area). There is more production industry (in Melbourne and surrounds).
As for timing beyond 2016, Pech says: "After the next show, we will decide, but our plan is to have it biannually after the next show ... if the industry supports that".
Pech sees the conference which accompanied the exhibition as a significant success and intends to build on that.
Cascade general manager Mike Slobe with Natalie Cook
Mike Slobe, general manager of Cascade Australia
, was "pleasantly surprised, not at the volume but at the quality of people" coming through.
"They hit the mark with the right type of people; there weren't as many people coming through that are not related to the industry (unlike other shows).
"We traditionally sell to the OEMs and OEDs, so we 're-met' a lot of people coming to the show and we had a couple of new things on the stand (which brought some people in)."
Besides Olympic gold medallist Natalie Cook, Cascade showed off its new touch force control capability and a mini-paper roll clamp which hadn't been seen in the market before.
Slobe notes that conversations on the exhibition floor reflected the prevailing "not very high" business confidence levels. "A lot of people are doing it tough at the moment, and that's reflected by the lack of people here."
According to Slobe, the absence of some key players "certainly detracted" from the event. Understandably, he says, some are taking a wait-and-see approach - not least because of the cost of involvement. He estimates that Cascade's investment in the show was "around $100,000 all up".
"From a brand perspective, we have done well and created a fair bit of interest," he says. However, his team will need time to "digest what has happened here" before signing up for Melbourne next year.
Francis Lal, national marketing manager of TVH Australasia
Francis Lal, national marketing manager of TVH Australasia
, says his company's expectations were shaped by its participation in other CeMAT events, and visitor numbers were "lower than we expected", even taking into account that it was the first show in this market. Despite the lack of volume, the show did yield "some quality leads".
Lal was not fazed by the notable absences, saying "there's still a lot of exhibitors here (and) a good spread of product manufacturers, OEs and parts and accessories to support the industry". This spread was important to TVH as a supplier of aftermarket forklift spare parts and accessories to the forklift sales, repair and fleet rental industry.
TVH's objective at CeMAT was to show off its TotalSource solution, an online parts inventory environment "that makes it easy to do business with us".
Lal understands why some industry players stayed away, noting that it's a big investment and a trade show might not fit their strategies.
For TVH, the show brought a large proportion of end-user visitors who were "looking at their operations and how to improve efficiencies". Lal noticed a strong emphasis on reducing complexity and boosting operational efficiency.
He questions the decision to relocate to Melbourne next year: "Normally, it's a familiar location and format that builds momentum. You look at the international one and you know it's Hannover. If they move that to Belgium, will you get the same number of people? I doubt it."
Hailin export director Hans Hao
Chinese manufacturer Hailin
learned one practical lesson at CeMAT, according to export director Hans Hao. When its forklifts arrived on the floor, it was pointed out that the LPG attachment did not conform to Australian standards - something which is already being addressed at the factory.
Like most of the other Chinese forklift brands at CeMAT, Hailin participated to raise its profile and to find local distributors and dealers. "The priority for us was to find some partners," Hao explains, adding that he had expected to find more prospects at the show.
However, the participation was beneficial in allowing Hao to find out more about the Australian market, which is recognised by Chinese manufacturers for its potential.
Hailin brought two different models to CeMAT - an older design and a new model, one powered by a Nissan engine and the other with a Chinese powerplant.
Joey Chen, product specialist from LiuGong
, also came to CeMAT in search of distributors and had good enquiries from as far afield as Sri Lanka.
LuiGong already has a presence in the market, but is hoping to extend it, using CeMAT to raise awareness. Chen says he would be keen to return to CeMAT if there were more OEMs which, he believes, would attract more visitors.
LiuGong, which is positioning itself as a quality manufacturer, brought a 3.5 T diesel forklift powered by a Yanmar engine.
Jerry Huang, export general manager of Goodsense
, was surprised at the low visitor numbers in Sydney compared to Hannover and Shanghai.
He was hoping to find more dealers and build on Goodsense's export successes in South America, the Middle East and North Africa, especially Turkey, Iraq and Ukraine, where Goodsense is the number one brand.
In his bid to attract dealer interest, Huang brought three of Goodsense's most popular models, a Nissan-powered LPG unit, a 3T Isuzu-engined diesel version and a mini-pallet jack. These three, he says, are just part of an extensive range which includes a number of large-capacity units, many of which lead the market. Goodsense is also making inroads in the airport market, with products like tow tractors which will go on show at InterAirport in Munich later this year.
Combilift national sales manager Paul Horsnell
national sales manager Paul Horsnell is "pretty happy" with the quality of leads generated over the three days. "They're quality organisations that we hadn't made contact with before," he says. Interest was helped by an imposing Combilift straddle carrier positioned at the entrance to the Homebush exhibition hall.
The discussions with potential customers were useful in "showing that there are other options out there" besides the standard counterbalance forklift.
Horsnell says he had no expectations from the show besides covering costs - "and we will well exceed that".
He welcomes the move to Melbourne next year, suggesting that events can become stale if they're always in the same place. He cites the truck shows which alternate between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and believes a show every two years would be enough for the market.
Horsnell notes that it was clear from conversations at his stand that "business confidence is not overly high at the moment, but people are looking for cost-saving measures for their businesses, they're looking at doing things productively and, in the case of our equipment, at optimising warehouse space, where our multidirectional products come to the fore".
Bolzoni marketing and sales director Carlo Fallarini
Attending from head office in Italy and supporting the local operation, Bolzoni
marketing and sales director Carlo Fallarini, was disappointed that "the big players in the forklift industry pulled out at the last minute". But he noted the large presence of Asian and particularly Chinese manufacturers, which he says is "the way of the market".
He points out that the increased frequency of the CeMAT event in Shanghai has also seen some of the big forklift players dropping out, which, in turn, negatively impacts on visitor numbers.
"For Bolzoni, it was good any way because we had a chance to meet our main customers, who are forklift dealers," he adds.
Bolzoni used CeMAT Australia to show off a new MZ fork positioner designed for a side shifter and which gives good visibility without loss of capacity - and at a very competitive price.
general manager Jarad Wilson found CeMAT to be invaluable as a network platform.
"Being in Coffs Harbour, there are many people we don't come into contact with, so it was good to meet other exhibitors and potential suppliers and also people who can see how our products could be utilised within their business," he says.
Wilson can't calculate a return for his CeMAT investment, "but regardless, it's the kind of move we had to make, given that we've been in the industry (for 35 years)".
While Isoloader couldn't bring equipment along, it used posters to illustrate its diversity. "We don't just have one machine. We have a whole range of equipment like straddle carriers that go under low door heights and narrow openings." It also showed some of its non-container solutions.
While other exhibitors were lamenting the slow overall market, Isoloader has been experiencing increased demand this year. "There's certainly a corner that's been turned this year," Wilson explains. "The rental market has been strong for some years, but there's been a lift in the sales market for us."
Wilson is also enthused about the prospects for CeMAT 2016 in Melbourne, which he says "has the potential for a better (delegate) turn-out".
Daryl Lord, managing director of Ausfork
Daryl Lord, managing director of Ausfork
Cloud-based Training, says his company has attended many events, and while the CeMAT traffic was less than other shows, "the quality of what we have been able to achieve has been quite good".
"We've come to get the message out there about our new training opportunity, so our focus has been on (buyer visitors)". Part of the success, he says, came from "going out there and actively engaging with visitors".
He sees CeMAT as the best way of reaching his target market, the warehouse and distribution sectors of the logistics industry. "Our product is based around materials handling equipment online training, and this is the best opportunity for us to address that."
Lord used the event to launch a new online training option, built on the experience of 25 years' face-to-face training.
Daniel Ng, spokesman for Adaptalift
, says that "being the first show, we were tossing up whether to participate, but we're pretty happy to be here".
"We had a steady stream of traffic coming through, with a lot of people asking about ForkTrack (a cloud-based fleet management system) and also about the Hyster forklift range."
Besides its bread-and-butter Hyster range, Adaptalift showed off its new ground support equipment (GSE) range designed for aviation and some of its Aisle-Master narrow-aisle forklifts.
Ng says it was also good to see what everyone else had on offer.
Stefan Marschner, managing director of Attollo
, found CeMAT "quieter than traditional shows ... but the quality has been reasonable", with the major stakeholders present. He is also pleased that the general public was largely excluded.
"We have a fairly complex set of services for the industry and (to explain that), you need time and space to be able to engage - and we've had that," he says.
For Marschner, the quiet times provided a valuable opportunity to network with other exhibitors.
Marschner shared his stand with attachment maker Kaup
, which was represented by China-based export manager Gabor Bartha, who recently attended the much larger ProMAT show in Chicago and "expected most of the forklift truck companies to participate" in Sydney.
"A lot of the big players were missing, which is not so good for us because our target as a neutral company is to see everybody.
"But, the quality of the visitors was very good."
Bartha is still undecided about participating in Melbourne, saying he would prefer the event to be held every two years. "You don't have so much innovation in this field that you have to show up every year," he adds.
Jean-Michel Maclou, industry sales manager at Sick
, saw a range of logistics professionals from operations to finance managers stop by for demonstrations.
"It was a fantastic three days. It hasn't been a rush of people, but we've had some good-quality calls."
Sick showed a dimensioning, weighing and scanning solution and set up a DWS system on the stand to show how simple and seamless it is - even on a non-technical level. He also found strong interest in RFID and the ability to track and trace.
attempted to contact some of the big-name players which snubbed CeMAT this time, but none had any comment for the record.
Click here to view more pictures from CeMAT