The prospects were good and have been confirmed. 37.614 attendees from 67 countries participated in the International Machine-Tool Exhibition, held from 3 to 7 June at Bilbao Exhibition Centre. The event generated an economic impact in terms of Gross Domestic Product of 66.4 million euros, and contributed to the creation of 1,344 direct jobs.

This positive impact on GDP is reinforced by the internationality of the attendees, both exhibitors and visitors, the latter having increased their participation by 56% compared to the previous edition. Professionals from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Mexico, China and Turkey took part, alongside participants from the USA, Colombia, India, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria.

With a total of 1,604 exhibiting companies from 29 countries and 3,716 products and services, large machinery in operation was the main attraction at BIEMH 2024. ADDITƐD, the International Additive Manufacturing and 3D Fair, BeDIGITAL and WORKinn Talent Hub were held alongside BIEMH 2024, welcoming 2,831 students and 406 teachers. There were 355 high-quality offers at the Employment Forum. Thus, BEC’s halls offered a complete tour of all advanced manufacturing, which will also be certified for the first time with the official seal as a Sustainable Event. The next edition of the BIEMH will take place from 2 to 6 March 2026, at BEC.

These figures confirm the dimension and projection of BIEMH, which fulfilled its aim of giving new impetus to the advanced manufacturing sector at what is a key moment, as stated by Xabier Basañez, the general manager of BEC, Mari Carmen Gorostiza, the event manager for BIEMH, Xabier Ortueta, the general manager of AFM Cluster, José Pérez Berdud, the president of AFM Cluster and José Ignacio Ortiz de Urbina, the president of AIMHE⸻the associations and institutions that organise the event.

“This year’s Biennial has been a success, a consolidating edition after the 2022 event, which was for recovery. We have seen the six halls full of machines, innovation, talent and visitors”, explained Basañez. This was also confirmed by Gorostiza, who stressed that “technology has become a business opportunity at Bilbao Exhibition Centre, in a week of uninterrupted attendance and great dynamism.”

For his part, Ortueta focused on the very high standard of the exhibition. “The photo was very high quality, showing the sector in a very powerful, sustainable and technological light; the spectacular staging created an optimistic atmosphere,” he said. Berdud assessed an edition that he considers “a turning point,” and underlined the “general positive reception.” “High-quality contacts have been made and investments are planned; mission accomplished,” he said. And Ortiz de Urbina said that this was “one of the best editions in the last decade, in which transactions have been made and more will come to fruition after the fair.”

The sectors of greatest interest were machine-tool by stock removal, automation of processes and manufacturing, robotics, digitalisation, deformation, components for machine tools, accessories for machine tools, additive manufacturing and 3D printing, tooling, and handling of parts and tools. The profile of the professionals who attended were those who held the positions of director / manager, owner / head / of department and technician.

A successful edition of the Hosted Buyers’ Programme

As confirmed by the companies participating in the Hosted Buyers’ Programme, important business deals were closed this week and the first steps were taken for new collaborative projects. A successful closing for the VIP Buyer Programme, which aims to secure the presence of senior decision-makers from leading global companies. Mexico was the guest country, and was represented by its ambassador to Spain, His Excellency Mr Quirino Ordaz.

In the opinion of the programme’s participants, the high standard of the exhibiting companies, as well as their interest in creating new synergies and opening to new markets, the seriousness in meeting deadlines and their warmth are the main characteristics that tipped the balance of their bets towards this fair and this territory.

As part of the Open Meetings, 4,355 interviews were held between exhibiting companies and buyers. Coming from 23 countries, this year around 300 executives took part representing major automotive, aeronautics, aerospace, railway, energy, steel and capital goods companies, among others. The variety of sectors in which the event aroused interest reflects the great attractiveness of what it offers.

A dynamic agenda, in keeping with the event’s theme

The 32nd edition of the BIEMH was particularly dynamic with a full programme. Among the activities were the analyses of international experts in the BIEMH Talks, the brand around which the different conferences of the event were brought together for the first time: Digital, Automation & Robotics and Additive Talks.

The Talks provided many hours of analysis and reflection on hot industry topics, as well as interesting conclusions. In the field of additive manufacturing and 3D printing, it was emphasised that innovation is playing a key role and many of its processes are already at a very mature stage, focused on what customers need, so the take-off of this sector in the next decade will be impressive. In automation and robotics, the emphasis was on the fact that robotics and artificial intelligence must understand each other and collaborate, highlighting the need to implement projects linked to robotics where cadence, precision, efficiency and improved safety at work are a reality. Finally, the sessions on digitalisation highlighted the potential of AI for planning, sequencing and synchronising value chains and the strategic use of data. In total, 170 speakers participated in the conferences, including the members of the BeDIGITAL Innovation Workshops, which attracted close to 1,000 interested professionals.

The BIEMH Tours offered several 45-minute guided tours of BEC’s halls. Participants had the opportunity to experience the industry’s latest technology first-hand through the Big Machines Tour, Automation & Robotics Tour and Innovation Tour.

Moreover, the agenda was completed by the Women in Industry events of PWN Bilbao and the conference on the USA of Basque Trade & Investment. As for more social activities, the Get Together meeting for exhibitor companies on the first day, the reception for visitors at the BIC in Barakaldo on the second day and BIEMH Fest, which was held in central Bilbao on Wednesday with an excellent response from the public, was a roaring success.

ONA EDM, SAMYLABS and FAGOR AUTOMATION, the winners of the Innovation Awards

Innovation enjoyed one of its moments in the sun during the award ceremony for the 15th National Innovation Awards in Advanced and Digital Manufacturing, which were organised by AFM Cluster with the support of BEC and Beaz (Biscay’s innovation agency). This year the awards went to the companies ONA EDM, SAMYLABS and FAGOR AUTOMATION. The event was presided over by Ainara Basurko, Provincial Councillor for Economic Development of the Provincial Council of Biscay.

The next edition of the BIEMH will take place from 2 to 6 March 2026, a move which means that it will once again occupy what was over many editions its usual space in the calendar; is the date that best suits the commercial needs of its exhibiting companies.

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