Show preview: Green light for productronica 2021

Author : Barbara Müller | Exhibition Director | productronica

01 October 2021


It’s been a tough 18 months for industry trade shows & live events, with most having to cancel or postpone events through the pandemic & global lockdowns, and many offering digital alternatives.

This show preview was originally featured in the October 2021 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. And sign up to receive your own copy each month.

But after its annually alternating sister expo, electronica was forced to do just that in 2020, productronica, the world’s leading trade fair for the electronics development & production industry, will go ahead as planned from November 16-19 at Messe München in Munich, Germany. This follows June’s announcement by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs that trade fairs will once again be possible in the region from September. Barbara Müller, productronica Exhibition Director tells us what to expect at the show…

Next month’s live in-person event from November 16-19 will also feature a digital, online component. Delegates will have the opportunity to take part in productronica in person or virtually, and Messe München CEO, Falk Senger is optimistic about the industry meeting: “In the past few months, we have been working hard on safety standards – and are now excellently prepared for the new start with an optimal safety and hygiene concept. We are looking forward to once again welcoming lots of exhibitors and visitors to productronica in person.”

Comprehensive safety & hygiene concept

Messe München has developed a compre-hensive safety and hygiene concept, in close cooperation with relevant authorities. It includes important new elements, in addition to basic provisions, such as maintaining minimum distances, wearing of FFP-2 masks and traceability of all participants. Under the VCR concept, access to the exhibition grounds is only granted to people who have been either Vaccinated, Checked or Recovered. This data can be entered at online registration and, in addition, test capacity is available on site. Modern ventilation systems guarantee a regular and reliable supply of fresh air, providing additional protection for exhibitors and visitors in the exhibition halls.

Positive signals from industry

Current industry developments give hope for a successful event, as Rainer Kurtz, CEO of electronics production firm, Kurtz Ersa Group & Chairman of productronica’s Advisory Board explains: “In the first half of 2021, incoming orders in the industry developed well for the most part. As the pandemic slows down, exhibitors expect a continued positive business trend for this year and next. In this respect, productronica 2021 has every chance of being a wonderful reunion for the entire global electronics production industry.”

productronica_Messe Munich exhibition halls
productronica_Messe Munich exhibition halls

Thilo Brückner, CEO of sector trade association, Electronics, Micro & New Energy Production Technologies (EMINT), part of VDMA (the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association), commented: “We are counting on a successful trade fair in November. Personal contact with customers and networking are the key ingredients for a successful trade fair. This only works with an in-person event.”

IoT & 5G: the perfect combination

IoT has been around for a while – but now, thanks to new 5G mobile communications standards, it is able to tap into its full potential. productronica will show the opportunities this opens up for the electronics manufacturing industry.

Even with the pandemic, IoT remains one of the fastest growing technology sectors. Market research firm, Statista expects that there will be nearly 31 billion IoT devices online by 2025. Other estimates predict more than double that amount.

According to Market Research Future, the global market for IoT in manufacturing alone is set to grow to USD 751.3 billion by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24%. Grand View Research predicts global market volumes of USD 1.11 trillion by 2028. Reasons for analysts’ optimistic outlook include advancing automation, predictive maintenance and supply chain management.

An IoT study from IT publications, Computerwoche and CIO highlights this trend: 44% of industrial businesses surveyed stated that IoT budgets had increased during the pandemic. Funds primarily went toward quality control and logistics, followed by networked production systems and intelligent products.

productronica_electronics production
productronica_electronics production

More IoT thanks to 5G & 6G

Thanks to new 5G mobile communications standards, there is now significant expansion to the range of applications – not just in industrial settings, but also in energy, health, science and consumer sectors. With high bandwidth, strong transmission performance and low latency, 5G represents the technical foundation for the next stage in the development of IoT.

However, researchers and firms are already beginning to prepare for the next 6G mobile communications standard – and according to Dr Ivan Ndip of Fraunhofer Institut IZM, 6G will finally achieve some of the claims promised by 5G! 6G will once again significantly increase the performance of mobile communications in terms of peak throughput, users’ data rates, reliability, latency, as well as energy efficiency and precision of localisation – all with a far higher concentration of connections.

Semiconductor market benefits from IoT & 5G

The rapid growth of networked IoT devices demands not only more semiconductors, but also increasingly high-quality components for them. Research firm, IoT Analytics expects the IoT semiconductor market to increase from USD 33 billion (2020) to USD 80 billion by 2025. The focus is on IoT microcontrollers (MCUs), as well as chipsets for IoT connectivity, IoT AI and IoT security. Cellular IoT chipsets will play a leading role, with a CAGR of 37.5% between 2020 and 2025, driven by 5G and “Low Power Wide Area” (LPWA).

Yet, according to analysts, the IoT semiconductor market is still in its infancy and share of IoT-specific semiconductors is expected to increase from 7% to 12% between 2019 and 2025. IoT is starting to establish itself as a driving force for the semiconductor industry. This means that chip manufacturers increasingly need to meet typical requirements of IoT, such as ultra-low power, small form factors and integrated security.

productronica_Semiconductors booth demo
productronica_Semiconductors booth demo

Electric mobility: the present & future of the automotive industry

Provisions for reducing CO2 emissions are driving an increase in electric mobility, with international market study, Roland Berger’s “E-Mobility Index 2021” showing that nearly 400,000 EVs received registration approval in 2020 – 3x as many as in 2019. Their market share rose to 12.6% (2019: 2.9%). As EV ownership and usage increases, so too will demand for publicly available charging infrastructure, including rapid charging points. The electronics manufacturing industry will be a key player in this technological transition and productronica will show the opportunities that electrification of the automotive industry offers for the industry.

Solid-state battery provides hope

However, better charging infrastructure alone won’t solve range anxiety. High-performance batteries with longer service lives are at least as important. Car manufacturers and investors are regularly announcing new battery cell factories. According to the European Transport & Environment association, there are plans for 38 battery factories across Europe, with investment of around €40 billion.

Nearly all of them rely on established lithium-ion technology. But there is hope for the future in the form of solid-state batteries, such as those being developed by Daimler, Volkswagen and Toyota. Compared to current technologies, they promise twice the range at the same size. The first vehicles, including test vehicles from Toyota and Volkswagen, are already on the way. However, it will be some time before this new type of battery hits the road on a large scale. Analyst firm, Yole Developpement expects the technology to hit the market in 2025, reaching an overall performance of 2.36 GWh by 2027 (enough for almost 50,000 EVs with a 50 kWh battery).

Increased range with silicon carbide (SiC) & gallium nitride (GaN)

But batteries aren’t the only lever for increasing the range of EVs. In fact, it’s a matter of optimising the entire powertrain. To that end, Fraunhofer IZM’s “SiCeffizent” project, together with Bosch and Porsche, is developing converters with lower-loss SiC semiconductors, enabling up to 6% further range. The first mass-produced vehicles are already using SiC and GaN semiconductors, which are superior in terms of power density, longer service life and reliability.

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