Austrian injection molding giant Engel Holding GmbH put a focus on the auto industry in Asia with its "trend.scout" event in Shanghai.
The event was held parallel to FUMOTec automotive engineering and future mobility trade show, which took place in Shanghai at the end of October.
Attended by more than 300, including development and production managers from both Chinese and international companies, the event reviewed current and future challenges, new opportunities and innovative technologies within the automotive industry.
"We discussed new technologies and opportunities for the future on the basis of the specific requirements of local producers and were also able to reflect the topics in an international context," Gero Willmeroth, president East Asia and Oceania Engel, said..
The keynote program included speakers from automakers and Tier 1 suppliers including Volvo, Continental, China-based Nobo, electronics supplier Ecorea, JSC Automotive, ExxonMobil, Sabic and Engel.
Opening the event, Norbert Müller, head of the Engel center for lightweight composite technologies, said the automotive market in Asia was continuing to develop “at a particularly dynamic pace.”
"Over 100 vehicle brands are now competing in China," he said, adding that the focus is currently on electric vehicles.
In addition, Chinese suppliers are pivoting more toward higher-end products.
"This results in important opportunities for the market entry of new technologies," said Müller, pointing to Engel's innovative composite technologies.
Together with his team, Müller develops new, cost-effective processes for large-scale composite lightweight construction.
"What is new is that composite manufacturers in Asia are also increasingly focusing on thermoplastic-based solutions," said Müller. "The possibility of functionalizing thermoplastic composite materials immediately after molding in the same mold using injection molding can secure decisive time advantages."
Also speaking at the event was Jochen Siebert, the managing director of JSC Automotive, a management consultancy specializing in the Chinese automotive market.
According to Siebert, the industry is already undergoing a transformation process that could lead to consolidation.
In China, a contributing factor to the slowdown is the discontinuation of government subsidies for electric vehicles by 2020, he noted.
The second day of the event was held at Engel's production facility in Shanghai, where four live exhibits were on display for the participants.
Engel's annual conference has been running since 2009 and is focused on the supply chain within the automotive industry.
Next year the trend.scaut event will take place in Detroit, followed by Austria in 2020 and a return to China in 20201.