DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — Italian processing equipment supplier Cannon Group stood out at K'98 for what was not on its stand — Cannon came to Dusseldorf with no machines at all.
``Here, we have decided to have a virtual fair,'' said spokesman Max Taverna.
Cannon replaced its polyurethane machines and thermoformers with television screens, beaming live video links to customers' plants and Cannon's three plants in Europe and the United States.
Despite a few glitches, the concept worked well, Taverna said.
Cannon also used an electronic link to broadcast Internet images from its booth and from the exhibit of its subsidiary, Sandretto Industrie SpA. Both companies' Web sites carried the pictures.
``It's not a gadget. It's a way to bring the fair to the people who can't be here,'' Taverna said.
At the show, people sitting in the second-floor lounge at Cannon's booth in Hall 11 could check out Sandretto's action over in Hall 13 and vice versa. Visitors also could watch videotapes.
Sandretto did display its injection molding machines. But Cannon's booth just had products and TV screens.
Taverna said it is difficult to transport and operate Cannon's big PU machines and Shelley thermoformers at a trade show.
Instead, each day, Cannon averaged 25 video conferences a day with three customers in Italy — GMP in Oderzo, near Venice, making polyurethane refrigerator parts for Electrolux AB; Commer TGS in Melfi, near Naples, producing flexible PU car seats for Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia; and Silex in San Marino Republic, turning rigid insulation panels.
But the electronic age did not come problem-free.
Because of international routing problems, Cannon could not get a connection with San Marino until the final day of the eight-day K show, Taverna said.
Cannon also had some problems with its Internet connection. Taverna said technicians had to do some programming to the trade show's server to allow transmission of Cannon's images. The problem was fixed the day before K'98 opened, but the Internet connection went down a few times during the show, he said.
Taverna praised employees of Duetsche Telekom at the show, for what he said was ``the fastest and most efficient service we have ever seen from a telephone company.''
Did people miss touching metal?
``We got mixed answers and mixed feelings among ourselves and among our visitors,'' Taverna said. ``The majority liked it, but we have to respect and listen to the opinion of the minorities as well. We are going to refine our exhibition strategy soon.''
Cannon of Trazzano, Italy, announced the following machinery news in Dusseldorf:
Cannon USA's laboratory in Cranberry Township, near Mars, Pa., is researching the use of the InterWet technology to make structural car parts. InterWet involves coinjecting PU with fillers such as fibers and sawdust.
Automotive seat maker Lear Corp. of Southfield, Mich., bought two CannOxide machines for making foam-in-place armrests and headrests.
Cannon showed a polypropylene chair with an integral PU foamed cushion. Cannon worked with Sandretto on the project.
K'98 was held Oct. 22-29.