From 1 to 4 March, when the hardware industry comes together in the Cologne exhibition halls for the EISENWARENMESSE - International Hardware Fair, there will once again be a veritable firework display of innovations It is and will continue to be a tradition for Koelnmesse to ask exhibitors about trends and new products in the run-up to the trade fair. In many companies, automation and digitalisation are currently getting a lot of attention. Consequently, many innovative solutions from the areas of tools, industrial supplies, fasteners and fixings, and home improvement will be on display.
The term “Industry 4.0” first coined in 2011 is also firmly established in the hardware industry. More and more, companies are working on networking the entire industrial value-added chain as part of digitalisation. This begins with order entry, continues with the ordering of goods and production and also involves logistics. All vendors, suppliers and of course customers are integrated into this virtual network. Figuratively speaking, the Cordless Alliance System (CAS) is also about networking. Currently, 13 power tool suppliers use the Metabo technology and the same interface. The advantages for users: More than 140 different power tools can be operated with the same rechargeable batteries and one charger is all you need to always be operational. It is precisely the fact that battery-operated tools are growing in popularity because they create energy independence that this alliance offers real customer value. Other important criteria for a better connection with customers are higher quality, speed and most of all cost optimisation.
For many companies, it can also be a decisive competitive advantage to present themselves as a strong innovative partner for the future to both industrial and artisanal customers. In the case of one exhibitor, their trade presentation focuses on a newly designed product configurator for industrial pullers. An increasing number of customers expect individual solutions and if possible 24/7. The configurator helps customers find their individual product quickly and easily.
High-quality measurement technology will also be simple and fast in the future. Where in the past, things still had to be done manually, today devices transfer measured data directly to the computer. The user can then evaluate and document the data even without programming knowledge. The scope of delivery of such high-tech measuring instruments includes the corresponding evaluation software, which enables direct data acquisition, the display of up to two devices, simple calculation within the software and the traceability of measurement errors.
And also with grinding technology, high-tech is increasingly being used to improve the performance of existing tools. For the extra-thin cutting disc segment in particular, the higher compression as well as the improved alignment between grain quality and bond hardness are crucial for increased performance. New production techniques make it possible for increasingly thinner discs to have more abrasive grain. Even in the area of flap discs, the higher compression also plays an important role because it allows better flap fastening, which increases the performance and service life of the discs.
Partnership with retailers
The right communication and presentation to specialist retailers and customers are essential building blocks for a pliers manufacturer. The smartphone, fast access to information, and new ordering and purchasing behaviour will place even greater demands than before on manufacturers and retailers. Addressing customer target groups directly is therefore becoming increasingly important. In Cologne, appropriate digital tools will be presented, which retailers can use to search for relevant product information more quickly and intuitively, and be able to recommend exactly the right product to the customer. At the same time, exhibitors also rely on social media channels, which are gaining importance in terms of engaging with customers and users worldwide. The significance of social media, especially for tool manufacturers, is also confirmed by another exhibitor. In the B2C business in particular, customers would look at the ratings on the internet before making a purchasing decision. Another factor is the increasing brand awareness of many customers. This is because brands offer orientation and also create trust. Furthermore, brands also underscore the competence of the retailer that sells them.
Digital is also growing when it comes to door and window products. The keyword here is smart home. Contactless opening systems are increasingly making their way into door and window technology, which of course are perfect for integrating into a smart home. One vendor shows an opening version that allows the front door to be unlocked without active assistance. When approaching the door from a distance of up to approximately one metre, the encrypted signal of the transponder in key fob format recognises whether a person is authorised to enter. If access is authorised, a clearly visible spot of light appears on the floor in front of the door. By simply moving your foot over the light point, the motorised lock is released and the door can be opened. Since not everyone relies on electronics, interesting mechanical hardware solutions will also be presented.
Despite the growing importance of digital aspects, there are also many other issues that continuously come up for providers, such as legal considerations. In the area of access systems, the “Technical Rules for Workplace Safety 2121, Part 2” (TRBS 2121-2) of December 2018 still provide fodder for discussion within the specialist trade because of the changes that have taken place as a result, particularly for business users. The guidelines now differentiate between ladders with rungs and stepladders and whether they are used as a means of access or for performing work. If a ladder is used to perform work, it may only be done with stepladders. This is something that retailers have to point out to their access systems customers.
It’s all about colour
When it comes to interiors, experts predict that the coming year will bring a trend reversal because manufacturers and various colour institutes expect 2020 to be the year of colours. Warm colours and pastels in turquoise, grey or aqua may be taking centre stage. This also goes for more muted, dark hues – also with iridescent or shiny metallic effects. At the same time, stronger contrasts and vibrant colours like red and orange will also be making a statement in the home next year. For floor coverings, the trend towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions is still continuing. Customers who invest in high-quality, sustainable flooring want it to remain in peak condition for as long as possible. One supplier addresses this concern and presents a special surface protection concept in Cologne that prevents scratches on parquet or vinyl.
Koelnmesse – Hardware worldwide
As an international top organiser of trade fairs, Koelnmesse is the global market leader for the product sections hardware/ironware divided up into the segments Tools, Industrial Supplies, Fasteners and Fixings, Fittings, Home Improvement as well as for the innovations of these industries. The leading trade fair EISENWARENMESSE - International Hardware Fair Cologne as well as Asia-Pacific Sourcing in Cologne, the Hardware Forum in Milan/Italy and CHIS - China International Hardware Show in Shanghai/China are exemplary for this. www.hardware-worldwide.com
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