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SPS 2019

Economy slows down

No dramatic decrease in number of exhibitors and visitors, but industrial automation business slows down.

CiA exhibited a CANopen FD host controller, which transmitted via a bridge/gateway device commands into a classic network (Source: CiA/Xie-Buchert)

Mesago, the organizer of the SPS (Smart Production Solutions) tradeshow in Nuremberg (Germany), counted 63708 visitors and 1585 exhibitors, not significant lower numbers than 2018 (65700 visitors and 1631 exhibitors). The exhibitors praised the quality of talks. Not all CiA members shared this view. With the change of name, this exhibition documented the long-term trend to system solutions. Machine builder and factory automation integrators are looking for turnkey solutions. Manufacturers of CANopen sensors and I/O modules counted fewer visitors. CANopen protocol stack providers are questioning their participation. This seems to be similar to the Hanover Fair a couple of years ago: Device makers not offering also system solutions stopped exhibiting in Hanover and moved to SPS IPC Drives.

In drives and motion control business, many CANopen providers have already migrated from a device manufacturer to a motion control system supplier. Maxon is a typical example: The Swiss company changed not just the name from Maxon Motor to Maxon, but presented itself as drive system provider in Nuremberg. The SPS goes the same path: transiting from a device-oriented exhibition to a system-related tradeshow. The new topics included machine learning, digital twins, cloud, and big data technologies. Security was also a major area of focus presented in Hall 6.

The CAN in Automation (CiA) stand in Hall 5 was visited well on Tuesday, the first day. But on the other two days, the number of visitors was much lower. CiA presented a migration solution from classic CANopen to CANopen FD. This shown demonstrator comprised a classic CANopen network and CANopen FD network. A bridge/gateway device by Peak System running software from Emsa linked them. This enabled the integration of classic CANopen devices into a CANopen FD environment.

End of November, ZVEI, the nonprofit German electrical and electronic manufacturers' association, reported a minus 4-percent decrease of production for 2019. Nevertheless, the export is increasing. Mainly, caused by China. VDMA, the nonprofit German mechanical engineering industry association, expects a 5-percent sales fall for robotics and automation in 2019. As a turnaround is not yet in sight, the association is forecasting a further decline for this sector turnover of 10 percent for 2020.

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