Reading time ( words)
As we stepped out of the hotel into the drizzling rain, we were relieved that it wasn’t snow. Looking down the escalator into the U2 platform in Munich’s Hauptbahnhof central station early on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 15 and observing the mass of humanity pushing and shoving to cram into trains to the exhibition centre, it appeared that a significant proportion of the international electronics industry had gathered to attend electronica 2022, co-located with SEMICON Europa and recognised as the world’s leading trade fair and conference for electronics.
Arriving at Messestadt West, and peeling off our still-compulsory masks as we left the train, we were carried along in a throng of people eager to get to the turnstiles with entrance tickets for a real live show and a glimpse into the future.
Although over 2,000 exhibitors occupied the 14 halls of Messe München, our areas of interest were concentrated mainly in Halls A1 and B1 with occasional ventures into A3, B3 and C1.
What did we see? A full spectrum of electronics innovations, plenty of incremental improvements in equipment and materials, a few potentially disruptive technologies and a blurring of the boundaries between design rules customarily associated separately with printed circuit and semiconductor territories.
Lots of familiar faces, people not seen in real life since before the lockdown, some not for many years more. We may have been struggling just a bit to remember names, and grateful for badges with bold print.
A serious issue highlighted at the General Assembly of EIPC (the European Institute for the PCB Community) by their president Alun Morgan was the continuing decline in the number of PCB manufacturers in Europe, from over 500 in 2000 to less than 200 in 2019. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has added to the industry’s problems by driving a dramatic increase in the cost of energy. Further, with the materials supply chain having moved to Asia and the additional cost of freight, the European PCB industry is at a significantly disadvantaged position. EIPC planned to bring these matters to the attention of government, with particular emphasis on defence considerations.
Friday was, as might be expected, a relatively quiet day but official figures indicated an overall total of 70,000 visitors from around 100 countries and regions, with opportunities to visit 2,144 exhibitors, as well as a full supporting program of conferences, forums, practical presentations, and panel discussions.
On the bus to the airport on our way home (yes, predictably, in the rain), we reflected upon a splendid live-event experience but not without some real concerns about the future of our industry.