Hannover Messe: A great venue for small manufacturers

Commerce, industry leaders tout U.S. Partner Country status for 2016.


Hannover Messe 2016 will showcase the global strength of U.S. manufacturing. A significant part of that strength is the small and mid-sized manufacturers that make up more than 85% of all manufacturing plants. Officials from Hannover Messe and the U.S. Department of Commerce, along with some of the world's top industrial manufacturers, opened the doors to that segment of manufacturing at a kickoff press conference Sept. 30 in Chicago.Dr. Caralynn Collens, CEO of UI LABS, which manages the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) in Chicago, welcomed attendees to the press conference Sept. 30 to discuss the U.S. Partner Country status at Hannover Messe 2016. Image

For the first time, the United States will be the partner country at Hannover Messe, the world's largest industrial trade show. Under the theme "Integrated Industry-Discover Solutions," Hannover Messe 2016 will take place April 25-29 in Hannover, Germany. The fair is expected to attract more than 220,000 attendees from more than 100 countries and more than 5,000 exhibitors, including the largest contingent of U.S. manufacturers ever at Hannover. CFE Media is the Official Media Partner for the U.S. Partner Country at Hannover Messe 2016.

"This show is going to be a great platform for small to medium-size manufacturers to exhibit," said Antwaun Griffin, deputy assistant secretary for U.S. operations for the Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration. "We're working to make sure U.S. companies have a prime location to leverage their opportunities. "All of this is to help the U.S. to not just stay ahead of the curve, but also to help create the curve," Griffin added.

"The Hannover fair is an excellent opportunity to promote American manufacturing and the interconnectedness of advanced manufacturing in a global arena," said Dr. Caralynn Collens, CEO of UI LABS, which manages the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) in Chicago where the press conference was held.

"Hannover Messe's themes of the Internet of Things and Industrie 4.0 are closely aligned with the strategic direction of our institute, bringing together world-class companies and innovators to transform manufacturing for the digital age."

Bringing U.S. manufacturers to Hannover

With 96% of potential customers living outside the U.S., global trade and manufacturing has long been an important component of manufacturing success. Combined with the strength of the U.S. manufacturing economy coming out of the global recession, Hannover officials have been looking to bring the world's largest industrial manufacturing economy to the world's largest industrial trade show.

"In light of America's resurgence as a manufacturing power, Hannover Messe, together with the United States Department of Commerce and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, decided it was time for the U.S. to take center stage at the world's leading trade fair for industrial technology," Hannover officials said in a press release.

To further that effort, both the Department of Commerce and Hannover Messe officials are working to encourage American manufacturers to attend and exhibit. The U.S. Investment Pavilion in Hall 3 will allow state and local economic-development agencies to discuss direct foreign-investment opportunities with global partners. The U.S. Commercial Service and SelectUSA will facilitate meetings with buyers and trade delegations around the world.

Hannover Messe also attracts world leaders to the event, and the 2016 fair should be no exception. President Obama will join German Chancellor Angela Merkel in officially opening the fair on April 24 with a gala event of entertainment. Past Partner Nations Country have seen their heads of state appear, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in 2013. Obama and Merkel will tour the U.S. Investment Pavilion on April 25, which also is the day of the German-America Business Summit.

For European-owned companies already firmly landed in the U.S., Hannover Messe represents a chance to show off their global strength as well as the value of their American investments. "Manufacturing matters again," said Dr. Helmut Ludwig, chief manufacturing officer for Siemens PLM Software. Siemens is the largest single exhibitor at Hannover Messe. "We're optimizing the digital enterprise. We're clearly focusing on adding value in manufacturing. It's not the screwdriver any more in our plants; it's the iPad. You need to be in Hannover, where you will see this in action."

The strength of small, and mid-sized manufacturers

According to the latest census from the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), there are nearly 300,000 manufacturing plants in the United States. Of those plants, almost 85% have fewer than 50 employees.

0 to 4 employees130,20343.8%
5 to 9 employees40,23113.5%
10 to 19 employees38,89813.1%
20 to 49 employees42,37914.2%
50 to 99 employees21,2897.1%
100 to 249 employees16,2175.5%
250 to 499 employees5,2181.8%
500 to 999 employees1,9400.6%
1,000 to 2,4999 employees6640.2%
2,500 employees or more152>0.1%
All plants297,191

Source: NAICS 2012 Census

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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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