Notes From SPS Show


I promised in my last blog to give you the run down on the SPS show. Well, first there’s Nurnberg. Nurnberg is an old city that’s about an hour train ride north of Munich, which I think still counts as Southern Germany (Bavaria), though I could be wrong.

Nurnberg seems to be an odd place for this show. Northern Germany is the heart of German Industrial might. While Nurnberg is centrally located, it doesn’t have the manufacturers you would find in Stuttgart or Hannover. I’m glad the show is there though, as it doesn’t have the distractions of Munich and is much prettier than the northern German cities.

Here are my top takeaways from the show:


The first thing about this show is that it is huge. There are twelve halls. Three I think are dedicated to anything and everything having to do with Motion Control. From Motors to systems, if you can’t find it at SPS, no one makes it. But the really weird thing is the shape of the halls. They’re not rectangles. Not even pentagons or octagons. One is a triangle with rounded corners. Another is sort of a rectangle with a ball on the end, and so on. Not only that, but it’s really hard to walk through them because the aisles go in all sorts of odd directions.


If you like to eat, you’ll love this show. Vendors here aren’t into the logo’d up pen or luggage tag type of giveaways. Here, you eat (and drink). At the high end, the Siemens, Phoenix Contact, and Wago’s of the world have essentially complete restaurants in their booths. You can get sausage dinners or Wiener schnitzel with beer, wine, and cocktails. At the next level, you can get sandwiches, pretzels and some German bakery. At the lowest level, everyone has cookies and candy. Some companies were even handing out Schnapps and other liqueurs.


Lots of attendees didn’t speak English. Maybe I’m an Anglophile but I pretty much believed that if you are an Engineer anywhere in the world you have a pretty good command of English. Well, that’s not the case. Lot’s of people moving through our booth were not English speakers. They recognized DeviceNet, EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP but that’s about it.


I didn’t see anywhere near the amount of wireless I expected. Maybe because I am working on wireless everyday now I am more sensitive to it, but it just wasn’t there. I’m not talking about the 803.11 Wireless Ethernet routers and gateways. Everybody has those – it’s old hat. But I barely saw any cellular, Zigbee or other sensor networking, even in the “wireless area” which wasn’t more than two small booths.


Germans are big into Engineering education. There were many teachers taking students on tours, so a large portion of attendees were much younger than you would see in the US.


This is short. There weren’t any. Almost no women working in booths. A few companies used them to accessorize their booths but they were mostly the typical German style women (I won’t comment further). 98% of the wait staff doing food duty were women, but that was about it. Engineering is a very male dominated profession in the US, but in Germany it appears to be even more so. However, there was one very popular, nearly naked woman for some company in Hall 6 – I’ll post a picture if I get some requests.


Distributor after distributor explained to me how hard it is to sell in Europe across country lines and even within a country. In Switzerland for example if you’re from Lucerne (German part) you have a really tough time selling in Geneva (French part). In France, you have to be French. In Belgium, Holland and other places it’s the same way. If you’re not like me, I don’t buy. I was totally unaware of this problem before the show.

It was a great show, our booth was a success and I am glad I got to experience it – sinus infection and all.