Built to purpose

Improving on the 2018 inaugural show, ITAP 2019 boasts deeper, more approachable seller-buyer engagements, discovers Karen Yue

Hot idea
Create opportunities for low-pressure buyer/seller interactions when the subject of a trade event is challenging to comprehend

The second edition of Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (ITAP) carried on the Learning Journey concept of the inaugural edition in 2018, persisting in its objective to ramp up Industry 4.0 (I4.0) adoption across Asia-Pacific so as to help companies in the manufacturing and related industries overcome low labour productivity.

Whereas the 2018 edition focused on introducing digital revolution to visitors, the 2019 edition intended to push companies into action.

Realising that the concept of I4.0 can be “overwhelming” for visitors new to digital transformation, the organisers created new zones – Collaboration Lab, Learning Lab and Robotics Experiential Zone – to close the gap between exhibitors and visitors, and encourage interaction that will bust myths surrounding innovation.

James Boey, executive director, SingEx Exhibitions, said: “We realised that many visitors to ITAP 2018 ended up wondering how all the various components and technologies they saw at the show would fit into their business or their factory. They thought that adopting them would be a five-million-dollar investment.

“We wanted to break that mindset and show them that there is innovation that can fit their budget. To do that, we knew we had to make ITAP 2019 very open with its learning approach. We didn’t want our visitors to stay away from the big booths and pick up a brochure to study later on.”

Boey explained that with Collaboration Lab, organisations like Microsoft and Emerson came together to co-create by test bedding and retrofitting solutions, and “told their stories on how users could innovate in bite-size”.

At the Learning Lab, live demonstrations on the capabilities and applications of autonomous solutions in the intralogistics environment were presented.

The Robotics Experiential Zone, curated with Singapore Industrial Automation Association, featured robotics displays and interactive exhibits, and provided opportunities for “people to see, build their own robots, ask questions, and learn”.

Another worthy highlight of ITAP 2019 is its approach to making digital transformation more palatable for workers and supervisors who worry that their employer’s automation would cost them their job.

“While innovation must come from the top, we recognise that it is also important to engage the middle-level and lower-level workers. Hence we worked with the National Trades Union Congress to engage union workers and reached out to all the trade associations,” explained Boey.

Guided tours for each industry specialisation was curated. For instance, there was a track just for F&B workers.

“We made it easy for the workers to digest, to convince them that they can work alongside automation, and to encourage them to see the value of upskilling themselves,” he added.

While the new interactive zones brought attendees closer to exhibitors, Boey said they also competed for attendees’ limited time on the showfloor.

“We need to improve on this, perhaps by creating a Disneyland concept where we recommend different line-up of activities that are suitable for three hours at the show and for full days across three days,” reflected Boey.

Convincing people from across Asia-Pacific to fly to Singapore for the event was also a challenge, recalled Boey.

“Most people are reluctant to reinvent the wheel – to innovate their business – if it works,” he said.

To build attendance, Boey’s team spent five months in key regional markets, such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia, to “sing about the value proposition of ITAP, emphasising that ITAP is not yet another manufacturing show, that it has rich learning and networking opportunities, it inspires new solutions, and identifies trends that will impact businesses that do not change”.

To get participants from emerging South-east Asia markets, ITAP 2019 worked with Singapore Airlines to offer an all-in-one package that came with a conference pass, lodging, flight and food, priced under S$1,000 (US$689).

By the end of the show, attendance records showed a presence of 3,255 unique foreign attendees – 18 per cent of total attendees and a 67 per cent increase from the 2018 edition. There were also 200 hosted buyers from the region.

Event Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific 2019
Organisers SingEx Exhibitions and Deutsche Messe
Venue Singapore EXPO & MAX Atria
Dates October 22-24, 2019
Attendance 23,000 people from 77 countries

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