Vitrum Opens in Milan
October 26, 2011

by Megan Headley, mheadley@glass.com

The 17th international Vitrum exhibition continues through Saturday at the Rho Fiera Milano in Milan, Italy.
Vitrum opened today in Milan, Italy, hosting 482 exhibitors from 26 countries.Organizers note that this year's event is marginally larger (approximately one percent more exhibit space) than the last showing, in 2009.

Mike Ondrus with Glasstech of Perrysburg, Ohio, was optimistic about the event. As he pointed out, the cost of a booth at the event is far more effective for a North American company than traveling across Italy and beyond to visit with customers. For those, like Ondrus, who planned ahead to meet with customers, Vitrum already has already provided an effective meeting venue with then possibility of a few walk-up surprises.

Francesco Nicotera of KeraGlass said that his company doesn't exhibit expecting to sell machinery here off the show floor, but the show still is a valuable venue. "[Fabricators] want to see the processing with their own eyes," he said, meaning Vitrum provides an introduction to the machinery options available. He added that KeraGlass' knowledgeably demanding customers expect to see the machinery in action beyond what the confines of a booth - even as large as the booths here - can offer.

Vitrum's four halls have been light on traffic on opening day, but those attendees who are at the show are focused on learning more about new machinery.
Lisec is taking that "educational" stance in its booth as well. The booth's “eye-catcher,” as Manfred Lesiak called it, is a small-scale model of a full production line that lets attendees better visualize how a Lisec production line might look in their facility. The clever little model is paired with QR tags that when scanned with the nearby camera brings more information on a given machine to the nearby computer screen.

Also in the booth is a machine slowly flexing a piece of glass, bending and straightening and demonstrating the flexibility of glass for solar needs; attendees interested in the energy section featured this year at Vitrum have been on the lookout for such products. A sample photovoltaic module in the booth further demonstrates the company's capabilities. "We are promoting glass to glass PV that is hermetically sealed, like insulating glass," Lesiak explained, adding that the company has long produced IG equipment, making this a natural fit.

Be sure to stay tuned to www.USGNN.com™ throughout the week for more from the show
While some have noted that traffic is lower than in years’ past, Gimav, the Italian machinery manufacturers association that organizes the biannual event, doesn't seem entirely surprised.

"We are experiencing an uncertain, fluctuating situation," says Cinzia Schiatti, president of Gimav. "The gloomiest times of 2009 and 2010 are behind us. We got off to a great start in 2011, [and] there is still a lot of effervescence but not many deals are being cut. There is no long-range planning because it's still difficult to make investment decisions. There's a credit crunch in Eastern Europe, while Brazil is still offering very satisfactory results. The Old Continent has ground to a halt, although Great Britain is showing its first signs of recovery."

Reportedly, the highest number of visitors are from Italy, followed by Germany and China, the United Kingdom and then the United States.

Still, opportunities are out there, Ondrus said. He said that Glasstech is in fact seeing an emergence of business, in areas such as Eastern Europe and India that are beginning to look for "world-class technology." In taking a global view, Glasstech has seen automotive glass demand begin to grow, and has seen solar glass technology grow to rival the demand the company sees for its architectural glass processing machinery.

Overall the message seems to be that some companies are seeing growth, some are holding steady and no one is quite sure what the near future holds.

"Orders and growth rates for the general economy are actually shrinking," commented Dino Fenzi, president of Vitrum and honorary president of Gimav. "But we should also consider by the end of the year the world as a whole will have grown by 4 percent and will, in all likelihood, perform equally well again by the end of next year. Who stands to benefit from this, however, remains to be seen."

Others predict that tomorrow and particularly Friday will bring a stronger showing from attendees; the show continues through Saturday. Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ all this week for more news on the machinery being spotlighted here in Milan.

This story is an original story by USGlass magazine/USGNN™. Subscribe to USGlass magazine.
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