"15 Years of the IZB" was the motto of the anniversary reception at which top-class guests from the worlds of politics, business and science gathered at the Mobile Life Campus to celebrate today's official opening of the 9th International Suppliers Fair (IZB) 2016. The specialist trade fair is considered to be Europe's leading summit for the automotive supplier industry. At the event, which will take place in the Allerpark in Wolfsburg from 18th to 20th October, around 800 companies from 32 different countries will showcase their product, production and process innovations. The main focus of this year's IZB is the topic of "Mobility Goes Digital".
"Having a well-established and intact global network of partners and suppliers has been a critical factor behind the success of large automotive companies such as Volkswagen for many years. In the new world of mobility, we need to further develop the quality of this network and expand its technological capacity. It's all about achieving more speed and flexibility and developing innovative strength and corporate courage. We also need to focus on working in knowledge networks that go beyond the boundaries of individual companies or industries", emphasised Matthias Müller, the Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG. Müller officially opened the trade fair together with the IZB patrons Klaus Mohrs, the Mayor of the City of Wolfsburg; Peter-Jürgen Schneider, the Minister for Finance of the German Federal State of Lower Saxony; Uwe Fritsch, the Chairman of the Works Council at the Volkswagen AG plant in Braunschweig; and Julius von Ingelheim, the Spokesman of the Board of Wolfsburg AG.
Since being launched with a total of 128 exhibitors in the year 2001, the IZB has recorded a constant increase in exhibitor and visitor numbers and developed into Europe's leading trade fair for the automotive supplier industry. At the reception celebrating the start of the 9th International Suppliers Fair, the organiser of the event, the company Wolfsburg AG, welcomed companies from all over the world that will be showcasing their innovative strength and technological expertise in an exhibition area covering around 37,000 square metres over the next three days. This year's event is yet again more international than ever before, with companies from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Moldova, Taiwan and Slovakia all attending for the first time.
As the venue for the opening reception, the Mobile Life Campus provided a particularly authentic setting for the discussions on the future topics facing the supplier industry. The Open Hybrid LabFactory, which is located directly next to the venue, opened for business in September 2016. The aim of the campus, which focuses on lightweight construction, is to use innovative key technologies for the construction of lighter and more energy-efficient vehicle bodies to contribute towards securing the future of Germany as an automotive location.
The IZB's main focus of digitalisation is driving the industry
When stating the main objective of this year's event, the company behind the International Suppliers Fair certainly didn't shy away from aiming tall: "With this year's main focus on 'Mobility Goes Digital', we want to provide important ideas and incentives for the industry and, by doing so, to help to shape the automotive world of the future", declared Julius von Ingelheim, the Spokesman of the Board of Wolfsburg AG. He went on to explain that digitalisation will transform the automotive industry on a long-term basis and challenge many of the existing business models used by manufacturers and suppliers. The digital transformation really is already making an impact along the entire automotive value chain. The topic of software, for example, was only viewed as a means to a purpose in the field of vehicle construction for many years, but now plays a central role when it comes to developing new business models. At the IZB, a special exhibition in Hall 1 featuring a number of companies, some of which have stands at the event for the first time, for example Samsung, Sony, Sharp, HERE and ASUS, is demonstrating the increasingly blurred lines between the fields of mobility and IT and the innovation potential arising from this development.
Exhibitors are showcasing world premieres in Wolfsburg
With 111 new product innovations, including 46 world premieres, this year's International Suppliers Fair has yet again achieved record figures. As was the case in previous years, the exhibitors at this year's event include some of the leading companies in the automotive industry, which are showing visitors what users are to expect from the vehicles of the future. "Digitalisation now concerns all areas of life and the digitalisation of the economy is extremely significant in this light. It is therefore important for the state government that innovation and internationalisation in the automotive industry be strengthened by establishing links between its existing regional industry clusters and networks and research institutions located further afield in order to ensure that Lower Saxony maintains its position as Europe's leading mobility location", emphasised Lower Saxony's Minister for Finance, Peter-Jürgen Schneider, in his welcome speech. The state of Lower Saxony is being represented at the trade fair by a total of around 60 exhibitors.
"We consider achieving cost effectiveness and securing jobs to be two corporate objectives of equal importance. We therefore want to actively use and shape the potential that digitalisation offers for cars, the industry and the world of work in a targeted manner", emphasised Uwe Fritsch, the Chairman of the Works Council at the Volkswagen AG plant in Braunschweig. Fritsch went on to explain that new challenges and opportunities will also arise for suppliers and service providers and that new forms of cooperation with supplier companies and stronger links between service providers and customers and within supply chains can enable us to make even better use of these challenges and opportunities.
The Mayor of Wolfsburg, Klaus Mohrs, stated that the transformation taking place within the automotive industry is a leap into a new era. He declared that the attractiveness of the Wolfsburg location is now more important than ever: "Many highly qualified suppliers are still relocating to our region. We offer excellent concepts and an equally excellent infrastructure – for both companies and their employees." Mohrs also claimed that the expertise of all parties involved needs to be pooled in order to successfully handle the paradigm shift in the industry caused by digitalisation. Appealing directly to the multitude of representatives from the supplier companies exhibiting at the IZB, he stated that the challenges facing the automotive industry can only be tackled with the support of suppliers, who are responsible for around 80 percent of the value created in the field of automotive production. According to Mohrs, many of the companies at the event are long-standing partners of both Volkswagen and the city of Wolfsburg.
This continuity is also very much visible at the International Suppliers Fair, which is why this evening's opening event honoured seven companies that have had exhibition stands at every single IZB since 2001. In the name of the event organiser, Thomas Krause, a Member of the Board of Wolfsburg AG, thanked representatives from the companies Coroplast, DENSO, Dräxlmaier, InPro electric, Kromberg & Schubert, Projektron and Schnellecke Logistics for the trust that they have now been placing in the International Suppliers Fair for 15 years.
More information about the trade fair can be found online at www.izb-online.com.