This year’s Valve World Expo, Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, is behind us and by most accounts, it was a pretty good show. The event was held in Dusseldorf, Germany, to which it had moved after outgrowing its previous venue in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Show organizers report 537 exhibitors from 37 countries, and 9,800 attendees, of which the majority came from the Netherlands, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Italy, France, Germany and India. About 68% were first-timers; of those, more than 70% were company executives. A quarter were fittings manufacturers, followed, according to show officials, by fittings users and visitors from other industry sectors. About 20% of the trade fair visitors were engineering service providers.
We talked to a number of representatives from companies that belong to the Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA) who either exhibited at or attended the Valve World 2010 Expo, asking how it compared to previous years. Several praised the facility and the size of the show: “The Dusseldorf venue was a major step forward for the show offering better facilities, much more room and a very professional atmosphere,” said Bruce Broxterman, president, Richards Industries. Robert Kemple, executive vice president, sales and marketing – Americas, ASCO Numatics, noted that the event seemed better attended than in the past. Juergen Sonderschaefer, vice president of sales, Crane ChemPharma Flow Solutions, concurred that the conference halls remained busy, “and a lot of that can be attributed to the new technologies present, and companies’ expanding upon their value-adding services.”
Arie Bregman, general manager of DFT Inc., agreed the new venue and the expo itself were very good, although some of his contacts were either delayed by the weather or not able to make it to the show. He feels that, given the uncertain weather in Europe from December through March, an early-November time slot would be a better idea. Yet despite the snowy weather, said Tom Velan, president of Velan Valves, “the show was very busy and the Valve World staff did an excellent job to make this exhibition a key meeting place for the global valve industry.”
VMA and its British counterpart, the British Valve and Actuator Association (BVAA), shared a booth, which Sonderschaefer thought was a good idea. “We were also pleased to see VMA and BVAA in attendance,” he said. “The support and cooperation among the associations does nothing but add value to the industry.”
Asked about any new trends of note, Tom Leaver, vice president – sales, Moog Flo-Tork, said that his main reason for attending this year was that he had been seeing many more opportunities for his company’s larger torque actuators in the mining and offshore markets, and was not disappointed. A number of valve manufacturers displayed their wares, he said, and he was able to make some valuable contacts with international valve companies, some of which were new to him.
Tom Velan noted a large number of Chinese exhibitors—although, he added, there were so many visitors that he wasn’t able to get around to the other booths, or even visit the other hall.
Not everyone was satisfied with the show, however. Bruce Broxterman, whose goal in exhibiting is “to talk to end users and plant personnel—to develop leads in order to sell product,” was frustrated by the lack of end users coming to the show to view the exhibitions.
Valve World is coming to America
The pace of Valve World Expos is accelerating, with a new event being added to the line-up. The first Valve World Americas 2011 Conference & Expo will be held in the Houston area, June 21-22, followed by Dusseldorf again in November 2012. Most of the people we asked liked the idea of the Houston show. “As far as being introduced in the U.S., this is great for valve manufacturers,” said Bob Kemple. There are very few hardware shows around any more, he continued, and this will be “[o]ne of the few shows that has product on display.”
After noting that June in Houston will be hotter than Dusseldorf in November, Tom Velan predicted that the show should attract “good participation from North and South America but maybe less global participation since it is only seven months after the Dusseldorf exhibition.”
As evidence of enthusiasm for the U.S. show, several VMA members said it quickly sold out exhibit space. (However, it’s worth noting that the show sponsors apparently planned a small event with limited exhibit space and conference sessions, likely to gauge interest before launching a larger event.) Yet enthusiasm was not universal. Velan would prefer more time between exhibitions and worries the quality of the technical papers will suffer because of it. Arie Bregman (who was unable to get booth space and wonders if there might be some way to increase exhibitor space) voiced a similar sentiment, and suggested that show organizers adopt a three-year cycle of Europe, North America and Asia.
A call for more training
Bregman also voiced an opinion about the state of valve education, and said the Valve World Expo would be a good place to address it. “It is a widely held belief that new engineering school graduates are not learning anything about valves or valve sizing and selection in their university curriculum,” he said, and since the VMA in the U.S. and Canada and the BVAA in England are doing a lot on the subject of education and training, it would be a good idea to add an entry-level training course or two to the next Expo, probably in conjunction with the VMA* or BVAA training programs. “We could also invite university students (in appropriate engineering programs) to attend these courses, perhaps under scholarship from a group of valve and actuator manufacturing company sponsors,” he continued.