With its largest-ever exhibition footprint, and the highest visitor turnout in over a decade, Austech 2019 – held in Melbourne in mid-May – was one for the record books.

Owned and operated by AMTIL, Austech is Australia’s premier advanced manufacturing and machine tool exhibition. Co-located as always with National Manufacturing Week (NMW), Austech 2019 took place from 14 to 17 May at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. Martin Pakula, the Victorian State Minister for Jobs, Innovation & Trade, opened the show with a speech at the Industry 4.0 Theatre, in the middle of the exhibition floor.

As soon as the exhibition opened, the aisles were quickly bustling with visitors and the exhibitor stands were visibly busy, and that strong early attendance continued throughout the duration of the show. By the end of the week, a total of 12,991 people had visited Austech and NMW – the highest overall turnout since 2007, and up by 20% on two years before.

“We’re completely blown away with the visitor numbers for this year’s show,” said Kim Banks, AMTIL’s Events Manager and Austech organiser. “We were already on track for our largest ever exhibition, so it was really important for us to justify the commitment made by our exhibitors by getting people through the doors. The turnout in the end has completely surpassed our expectations.”

Austech 2019 had already began breaking records some time ahead of the actual event. A total of 170 organisations booked exhibition space to showcase their products and services. Moreover, many had taken substantially larger stands than in previous years, meaning the total floor space comfortably exceeded 6,000sqm – a footprint unprecedented in 20 years of Austech exhibitions. Austech 2019 was also the fastest to sell out in terms of exhibition space for more than a decade. And with high levels of visitor pre-registrations, hopes were high for a good turnout ahead of the event.

Importantly, along with the sheer volume of people coming into the show, a high proportion of visitors were key decision-makers with authority for purchasing – 20.18% were business owners, directors, CEOs, managing directors or general managers, while engineering and technical managers made up a further 14.22%. This was also evident on the stands, with many exhibitors reporting high numbers of good-quality sales leads. Best of all, an impressive number of actual sales were made during the show.

One company exhibiting was Dimac Tooling, whose Managing Director Paul Fowler (also AMTIL’s President), was unsparing in his enthusiasm for the way Austech 2019 had gone.

“It’s simply one of the best shows I’ve ever been to,” said Fowler. “It’s been – as it always is – professionally run. Putting on a show this scale, the biggest we’ve ever done, it’s quite significant how smoothly it’s run. On the very first day, the crowds were already up, and that continued through the rest of the show. The other thing that really seems to characterise the inquiries we’ve got: it’s not a wish, it’s a want. They’re not wishing they could afford this product, they actually want it. I suspect when we do our follow-up after the show, there’s genuine interest and follow-through.”

This year’s show also featured the most diverse array of technologies on show at Austech to date, most notably with the introduction of the Air Technology Pavilion, showcasing the latest compressor systems and associated air technologies. The Digitalisation Pavilion also returned, having made its debut in 2017, exploring the latest innovations in connected manufacturing, while the Additive Pavilion was the place to catch up on the fast-evolving world of additive manufacturing, complemented by Unlimit3D, a conference on additive manufacturing run by AMTIL during the first two days of Austech.

Finally, the Manufacturers’ Pavilion provided a vivid demonstration of the strength and diversity of Australian manufacturing, with more than 20 manufacturing businesses showcasing their capabilities.

“I don’t think anyone would argue with me when I say this has been one of our best ever Austechs,” said AMTIL CEO Shane Infanti. “Attendance has been great, we’ve had an excellent line-up of exhibitors, and you can see that people have been doing business and investing in the latest technology. There’s been a fantastic atmosphere around the Show and I think it says great things about Australian manufacturing right now. Roll on 2021!”