Interview: South Korean Manufacturing Gets a Boost from Automation Fair’s Dedication to Tech

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‘Automation World’ opens for its 23rd year, uses smart tech and buyer benefits to expand global participation.

South Korea’s factory automation market is now the 8th-largest in the world – and with a combined global value now surpassing 300 billion USD, the country’s ambitious trade agencies are working hard to take advantage of the industry’s growth.

On April 3rd in Seoul, the nation’s largest exhibition organizer, Coex, will open their Automation World trade show for its 23rd consecutive year. The show seeks to take advantage of developments in IT-driven “smart factories” that have spurred emerging markets like China and India to pour money into their own industries, leaving developed European manufacturers in the dust.

While Korea’s $15.2 billion share of the automation pie is not as large as its more populous neighbors, the country has been praised for its manufacturing sector’s attention to detail and dedication to high-tech. As a result, many of the latest developments in automation’s most precise technologies – machine vision and sensors, to name a few – have come from the small peninsula.

To provide a first-person perspective, Automation World project manager Jong-ho Ahn gives his thoughts on the past, present, and future of his fair and of Korea’s automation industry.

Interview: Jong-ho Ahn, Project Manager of Automation World

  • What is Automation World's outlook for industrial automation trends in 2012, and what are the show's plans for trend promotion?

"The hot topic in automation not only in 2012 but also in the long term '3S' -- that is, Smart, Energy Saving, and Safety + Security. ‘Smart’ is for IT innovation in industrial communication networks, including wireless factories. ‘Energy Saving’ is concerned with resource conservation and improved productivity. And ‘Safety and Security’ technology optimizes the protection of both workers and facilities.

By focusing on 3S along with existing automation technology, Automation World aims to become one of the world’s most cutting-edge automation marketplaces. This year, we also have a ‘3S Tour’ program prepared to help visitors to become familiar with new technologies.

In addition, AW 2012 will host a ‘2013 New Line-Up Pavilion’ to show a preview of upcoming trends in 2013. Visitors will be able to explore 3D simulations of factory processes at the Digital Factory Pavilion; they will study energy conservation and carbon reduction at Green Factory Pavilion; and the Self Factory Pavilion will show how a one-person factory functions."

  • This year, Automation World celebrates its 23rd anniversary. What are some of the most notable events in the show's history?

"Automation World was launched in 1990 as Korea International Factory Automation System Exhibition, or KOFA. KOFA was Korea’s very first automation industry show as well as one of the first automation shows in Asia. As a new show KOFA was quite successful, attracting 138 companies with 402 booths. Growth was high from the second year on, and KOFA increased by over 100 booths each year until 1996, when it reached 1,000 booths.

The show joined the World Fairs of Instrumentation, Measurement, and Automation (W-F.I.M.A.) in 2001, and was the first Korean fair of its kind to receive UFI certification. In 2006, the show was renamed aimex, or International Factory & Process Automation Exhibition, in order to reflect a focus on new types of items."

  • Last year’s Automation World hosted aimex and IBS, and this year, Korea Vision Show will open for the first time. What is AW’s future as an umbrella-type show?

"Automation World aims to be a show for attendees that want to both keep up on market trends and communicate with cutting-edge manufacturers. From our start as KOFA, our show has strengthened its position by always choosing to exhibit the latest technology. Emphasizing key new technologies through “sub-shows” is the next step in our growth. In the future, we plan to focus our sub-shows on more emerging sectors such as industrial networks, industrial robots, motion control, and more – all new technologies for production automation and instrumentation & control systems.

We increase the exhibition’s size and quality as well as predict upcoming industry trends through one key strategy: continuous open communication with manufacturers. To reach this goal, we sponsor three annual manufacturer networking events, through which we learn much about both the industry and exhibition planning and management from the exhibitors’ point of view."

  • What are Automation World's special strategies to attract qualified buyers?

"We believe the most important part of organizing a good exhibition is attracting qualified buyers. Automation World invites buyers after taking exhibitor surveys and creating lists of most-wanted buyers. In addition, we hold various conferences and seminars in order to bring in a more professional rank of buyer.

Alongside general buyer marketing, Automation World 2012 will host its first business-matching program during the show to increase real business connections for both domestic exhibitors and overseas buyers. The program will open during the second day of the show, and each hosted buyer will have meetings with 8 exhibitors that they select in advance. Some of our most notable buyers include Japanese delegates from JEPIA (Japan Electronic Products Importers Association). JEPIA is especially interested in controllers, manufacturing machineries, and machine vision products.

For participating buyers, Automation World also provides benefits like hotel accommodations, welcoming luncheon, and a Seoul city tour."

Automation World Secretariat
Tel: +82-2-6000-8002

Automation World 2012 Show Overview

  • Dates: April 3 – 6, 2012┃Tuesday – Friday┃4 days
  • Location: Coex Exhibition & Convention Center, Seoul, Korea┃Halls A + B (18,387 sqm)
  • Host: Coex Co., Ltd.
  • Supporters: Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Korea Industrial Complex Corporation, Korea Institute of Industrial Technology, Daejeon Technopark, Gyeoggi Technopark and Busan Technopark, Gyeongnam Technopark, Busan Venture Companies Association, Gyeongnam Venture Companies Association

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Susan Kim
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