Review of IZB 2018

With three trade fair days, 838 exhibitors from 34 different countries, 38 world premieres and a good 50,000 visitors, the 10th International Suppliers Fair (IZB) in Wolfsburg looked back on a positive experience when it closed its doors. The event provided a comprehensive overview of the automotive value chain in times of change. The choice of the focus topic of “Think Digital” for Europe’s leading trade fair for the automotive supplier industry shone the spotlight on digital solutions and interfaces for products, production and processes within the industry. “Networking, autonomous driving, electromobility and artificial intelligence are currently the hot topics playing a defining role in the industry. The IZB provided an outstanding platform for taking a look at the future of mobility and the components that it requires”, stated Thomas Krause, a Member of the Board of the company hosting the event, Wolfsburg AG, in his positive summary of the trade fair. Krause also announced the dates of the 11th IZB which will take place in Wolfsburg from 6th to 8th October 2020.

At this year’s event, the topic of digitalisation was a common thread running through all seven exhibition halls. More than half of the exhibitors made the diverse range of topics involved in networked mobility the focus of their trade fair presentation, demonstrating how they are taking a new approach to existing knowledge and combining innovative solutions to create completely new applications. This focus alone clearly showed how cars are transforming from a mode of transport into a mobile data centre and how as a result, software-based services both in and in connection with cars are becoming increasingly important when it comes to creating added value. This in turn provides new prospects for both current and new market players who are yet to be involved in the automotive industry.

This year, the world’s highest-volume automotive supplier companies yet again presented their innovations at the IZB and by doing so, further underlined the importance of the trade fair for automotive experts and professionals all over the world. In fact, with Bosch, Continental, Denso, ZF and Magna, the entire “Big Five” of the supplier industry was present at the event in Wolfsburg. “Being here gives us the unique opportunity to present our portfolio, systems and technology right on Volkswagen's doorstep”, declared Dieter Narres, Technical Key Account Manager at ZF Friedrichshafen AG, in his enthusiastic summary of the trade fair. “Furthermore, the IZB is highly interesting because we also encounter many of our own suppliers here at the event. It is therefore a unique constellation that cannot be found anywhere else.”

Software manufacturers underline their position

A number of well-known consumer electronics companies, IT specialists and software developers also made the most of the trade fair as an ideal platform for efficient and successful networking, with even the world’s largest software manufacturer Microsoft attending the IZB for the first time. “We will work together with Volkswagen to develop both services for networked vehicles such as telematics services for proactive servicing or advanced driver assistance systems and communication services for drivers and passengers”, stated Microsoft’s Global Technology Adviser Bernd Kracke. “We therefore want to use the IZB to showcase our company as one of the major partners of the automotive industry. We have not only informed visitors about our arrangements with Volkswagen but also about other solutions available from Microsoft. We now offer an extremely wide range of products extending from modern workstations, the area for which we are best known, through to solutions for optimised computer centres and right through to a cloud-based platform for intelligent production and logistics.”

Alongside the market leaders, small and medium-sized companies and a growing number of start-ups also provided fresh impetus for the industry. vr-on GmbH, the winner of this year’s IT Innovation Award presented by the German “Initiative Mittelstand”, an initiative for medium-sized companies, used the event as an opportunity to showcase collaborative software that can be used to host virtual reality conferences with common VR goggles. Dr Ralf Rabätje, the Managing Director of the company founded back in 2016, explained that: “People can meet up in a virtual world that doesn’t require participants to all be in the same location and can enjoy a three-dimensional experience of the product being discussed as if it were right in front of them. For us as a company participating in the IZB for the first time, one of our most important aims was to find out more about the demand for such products among supplier companies so that we can develop projects with customers on a more long-term basis.”

The IZB is becoming more international

This year’s IZB yet again broke new records in terms of exhibitor numbers and internationality. 838 exhibitors from 34 different countries transformed the exhibition grounds in the Allerpark in Wolfsburg into a showcase of the innovative power and technological expertise available in the automotive supplier industry. Approximately 300 companies exhibited at the IZB for the first time this year, around 50 percent of which were from locations outside of Germany.

With a total of 45 companies, Spain had one of the strongest presences at the event, second to Germany. The Spanish Automotive Equipment and Components Manufacturers Association SERNAUTO acted as a point of contact for visitors, enabling them to establish direct and uncomplicated B2B connections to the associated companies that are responsible for more than 80 percent of sales in the Spanish automotive supplier industry. “For us, the IZB is a must-attend event on the international trade fair calendar. It has become a platform on which we can meet local OEMS and those from overseas, network with other industry players and keep up to date on the latest market information. We have decided to attend this attractive major event for automotive OEMs because it enables us to access and interact with the local market and can be the beginning of many lucrative partnerships for our companies. The number of key buyers and decision makers attending this trade show make it an important source of new business contacts in economic sectors and it provides an opportunity to increase market presence”, stated Begoña Llamazares Vega, the Head of Market Segment at SERNAUTO. “Within the framework of the show, SERNAUTO has launched its new digital platform ‘Autoparts from Spain’ as part of an ambitious project to internationally promote products available from Spain and the export capacity of manufacturers of equipment and automotive components ‘made in Spain’.”

Lightweight construction is still an important topic

In light of the challenge posed by the requirement to reduce CO2 emissions in the future, intelligent and sustainable lightweight construction concepts attracted special interest among trade visitors at the event. Megatech Industries AG, for example, used a plastic door beam with a weight reduction of 18 percent to demonstrate new approaches to lightweight construction based on bionic structures. “The IZB offers the company Megatech an excellent opportunity to present our products and our main area of expertise. A multitude of interesting conversations with current and potential customers and supplier companies already indicate that the trade fair was a complete success for us. Our innovation in the field of bionic structures for side door panels and our approaches with regard to middle consoles are in high demand”, explained Michael Gahr, Key Account Manager at Megatech, who was very pleased with his company’s IZB experience.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research (WKI) in Braunschweig focuses on sustainable bio-hybrid lightweight construction and biogenic composite material. At the IZB, the institute used its “BioHybridCar", a Porsche Cayman GT4, to present the use of high-performance and natural fibres in car body manufacturing. The WKI also showcased a vegan bio-based leather for interior applications and a wood foam with a germ-resistant and water-repellent coating for covering components in car interiors. The institute is one of a total of 30 exhibitors from the Braunschweig-Wolfsburg region of Germany, just like the Schnellecke Group AG & Co. KG. The Wolfsburg-based company has been an exhibitor at every IZB since 2001. “We feel right at home at the IZB. As a Wolfsburg-based company, we can present our expertise right here in the city, especially as a logistics service provider for the automotive industry that masters the whole supply chain and integrates digital technologies into its processes”, explained Cersten Hellmich, Head of the Communication and Marketing Division in the Schnellecke Group. At this year’s IZB, the company presented its “Transport Control” control software system. This unique system, which is “currently the only of its kind in the world” can be used to control automated guided vehicles (AGVs), forklift trucks and storage and retrieval systems, regardless of their manufacturer. “The interest is there; we are constantly welcoming visitors to our stand”, added Hellmich.

Exhibitors as future employers

The Job Fair held on the third and last day of the trade fair has now been a traditional feature of the event for many years. This year, a multitude of school pupils, students and young academics all made the most of free admission to the IZB and the special opportunity to establish direct contact with representatives from the human resources departments of the exhibiting companies in order to find out more about individual career entry, career, employment and further education opportunities. Wolfsburg AG offered its well-established free application portfolio check alongside the event, while the Job Wall in Hall 1 yet again presented a large variety of job vacancies.

Last but most definitely not least, the dates for the next International Suppliers Fair have now already been set and are an absolute must for every calendar. The 11th IZB will take place in Wolfsburg from 6th to 8th October 2020.