Earlier this week we mentioned how HK 2020, the annual heat treat exhibition in Cologne, Germany will have a different format this year because of COVID-19. We spoke with Sonja Mueller of AWT who is head of the organizing committee for the event and this is what she has to day.
“The executive board of AWT has decided, that HK 2020, the yearly big trade fair and congress event in Cologne on materials technology issues will not take place as a physical event. The trade fair is cancelled this year and the congress will be held as an online event.”
Dear Sonja, this must have been a very hard decision for you.
“Yes, and with a heavy heart. So far, we are aware of only some of the conditions imposed by the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia which will apply to the staging of events and trade fairs after 31 August. But these conditions are sufficient for us to draw up a scenario for the event and decide that we do not want exhibitors, visitors and also us as the organizers to meet under these circumstances. Can you imagine an exhibition hall with individual stands distributed throughout the hall? With distance rules of 1.5 meters from person to person around and on the stands? A reception without buffet and music? In addition, we expect that there will still be travel bans in companies and statutory travel restrictions for foreign countries in autumn.”
What are the plans for the congress this year?
“We did not want to cancel the congress with its high quality on lectures with information about the current state of science and technology. The program is already complete. So, the congress will take place at the scheduled time as an online conference. The participants of the congress can meet and chat at the online platform. A situation with home office or short-time work could also be used for further training. At the moment we create the technical basis for it. The program with 32 lectures includes two days. On 21 October a scientific congress will be held and on 22 October a practioners congress. The final program will be published on hk-awt.de at the mid of June.”
What information could we get about the exhibitors?
“The website of HK with a detailed exhibitor directory will be updated currently and the exhibitors can publish product information and press releases on the “marketplace”.
What are your plans for the upcoming events?
“We all learn a lot about new event techniques at the moment, which will also offer new possibilities for the coming years. I think, we will become more international in the future because we can integrate more and more tools for virtual meetings into our traditional “physical” concept of HK. Our colleagues at Cologne trade fair this year present the first virtual fair.”
You can’t really imagine this as a concept for HK?
“Of course, I know, that a virtual meeting does not replace direct contacts from person to person, it’s more a kind of additional information. In addition to the presence event in the exhibition hall, we can perhaps also design a virtual exhibition hall next year. It offers a platform for companies from abroad to take part at a German event at manageable costs. We will hopefully celebrate a lively and healthy reunion in Cologne next October at HK 2021!”