CAIRO: Egypt’s annual automation exhibition came to a close Monday after three days of bringing together professionals in an array of industries to showcase the latest products, solutions and services.
Engineers, manufacturers and visitors gathered at the International Industrial Control and Automation Technology Exhibition and Conference, now in its third year, in Cairo from May 9-11.
The annual trade show focuses on the latest automation innovations and solutions in several sectors, including refining, petrochemicals, food, pharmaceuticals, energy, IT and steel, to name a few.
As it came to a close, exhibitors were already looking forward to next year’s conference. Basem Gamal Abdel Fadeel, of MAAS for Engendering and Trade, said his business was deeply affected by the economic crisis, with the number of orders decreasing by 50 percent since this past August.
“By then; the global financial crisis will hopefully be over, he said.
Still, this year’s turnout was quite positive, with 37 exhibitors and around 4,000 visitors, according to Mohamed Hammad, general manager of SMB Egypt, which organized the event. He is expecting more participation next year, up to 65 exhibitors and 7,000 visitors.
Despite the high turnout, most of the participating companies were not Egyptian. “Unfortunately we [Egypt] don’t produce these systems, we import them from different parts of the world, including Germany, Italy and Holland. For cost-cutting policies, some manufacturers use Asian products.
Companies that did exhibit varied greatly in both size: German electronic giant Siemens was present as was the relatively small California-based company Opto 22.
“We have operation in the Middle East through three offices in Saudi Arabia, but this year we wanted to expand into the Egyptian market, as one of the promising markets in the Middle East, Gerhard Kreiling, representing Opto 22, said.
A family-run company, Opto 22 manufactures hardware and software products for industrial automation. The company introduced the red-black-yellow-white input/output module color scheme that has since become an industry standard.
Another exhibitor, Falcon Group (officially known as International Security & Services Company S.A.E.), of which Commercial International Bank is a majority stakeholder, provides integrated security systems and cash management services.
This year, the company focused on showcasing home security systems. “In the last few years, with the enormous expansion of housing developments around the outskirts of Cairo, the demand for home security [systems] peaked.
“Most of the new developments are almost in the desert, for instance, in the New Cairo area, so we are offering this year a variety of systems to meet this demand, said Engy El-Kafrawy, technical and engineering sector marketing manager at Falcon.
Falcon also provides training programs for security personnel, consultancies services and property management. The company’s client list includes parent company CIB as well as UNESCO, FAO and UNICEF offices in Cairo.
Industrial automation technology was first used in Egypt’s pharmaceuticals and food sectors, where the production process should entail minimal human involvement.
“Nowadays, automation and technology systems are used in almost all industries, and the exhibition [aims to] meet the need of knowing the latest in [the field] of automation, said Hammad.
A couple of booths were dedicated to trade publications, such as AT Automation Technology, a quarterly magazine that has been around for a year. It will soon launch a website “to keep up with the new development in the market, said Alaa El-Akad, sales executive at the magazine.
Electriciy World, which just put out its eleventh issue, is also trying to fill an information gap in the industry, and “provide Egyptian readers with the most recent research in the automation world, said El-Akad
On the sidelines of the exhibition, the three-day conference featured discussions and seminars on a variety of related topics: automation technology in the oil and gas sector, facilities management, biomass/biofuel technology and meteorology.
In one session, Soha Rashed, corporate business development associate at Siemens, spoke about energy-saving technology. “Siemens’ energy-efficient motors saved the world 148 million tons of CO2 [emissions] in 2008, said Rashed.
The total cost of energy-efficient motors is 0.9 percent of the total cost of regular motors, she said, but demand in Egypt is still moderate because “the strategies are not long-term.