The major show in Nuremberg will feature trends and innovations in construction/interior architecture, equipment for professionals, gravestones, and heritage
By Richard Watzke
A good business climate is pleasing for all companies active in the natural stone sector. The trend towards sustainable building favors the demand for environmentally friendly building materials such as natural stone. Hermann Graser, President of DNV (Deutscher Naturstein-Verband) and Managing Director of Bamberger Natursteinwerk Hermann Graser GmbH, confirms this development: “Now that the topics of sustainability, regionality and environmental and climate protection are more topical than ever and the need for sustainable building materials is increasingly shaping the German and European construction industry, there are no limits to building with natural stone from my point of view.”
The decisive factor for a favorable energy and CO2 balance is a focus on natural stone from regional quarrying. For all building materials, the shorter the transport route, the lower the CO2 emissions.
The private sector in particular is ensuring a high level of orders. Demand for adhesives and laying mortars is correspondingly strong, chemical construction product manufacturers say in the Stone+tec survey: “From our existing product range, the choice falls predominantly on fast-setting and fast-drying natural stone mortars, which enable the laying of natural stones that are sensitive to discoloration and deformation,” explains Marcus Winkler, Head of Applications Technology at Mapei GmbH.
At Lithofin AG, cleaning products for outdoor areas were in high demand last year, which underlines the trend towards “living rooms in the open air.“ Growth was also achieved in the area of care products, such as Lithofin MN Easy-Clean, explains Managing Director Garvin Stingel.
Dr. Dirk Hamann, Managing Director of Akemi chemisch technische Spezialfabrik GmbH, rates the construction industry as a stabilizing factor for the German economy: “Many people have invested in the new construction or conversion of properties. We were able to record a volume growth of approx.15% in the stone sector. Investing in the garden, such as swimming pools and outdoor kitchens, where natural stone is used, are also in vogue.“
Stonemasons: investments in machinery and tools
In order to be able to handle the high order backlog safely and economically, more and more stonemasonry companies are using state-of-the-art production technology. Innovative processing machines, tools, equipment and aids for different company sizes will therefore be a much-noted focus of the fair. The trend towards automation in particular is ensuring a high willingness to invest, explains Sven Wappler, Managing Director of CMS-Steintechnik GmbH: “In my 26 years of experience in machinery sales, there has never been more investment than in the last two years. There is currently no end or change in sight.” As dynamic as 2021 ended, 2022 has also begun.
According to Sven Wappler, users attach particular importance to quality and service. Customers are particularly sensitive to this and want to do everything right when making an investment. It’s gratifying for machinery manufacturers that customers are willing to reward high quality accordingly.
At GMM Steinbearbeitungsmaschinen GmbH, customers’ full order books, the shortage of skilled workers and increased demands on the quality of the end product are leading to a high willingness to invest, explains Managing Director René Houdelet. Turning head saws, water jet systems and edge grinding machines are currently the most sought-after machinery at GMM. In smaller quantities, rotary table bridge saws and surface finishing machines are also in demand.
High productivity and quality are also considered basic requirements for tool users. According to Dirk Büttner, Managing Director of Diabü Diamantwerkzeuge Heinz Büttner GmbH, the focus in all tool areas is on optimal productivity: “Our customers drive high utilization and require the best possible machining rates with high precision. We have to guarantee this in an ongoing fashion.”
Personal exchange with customers and users is very important to Dirk Büttner: recommendations for use almost only work on the ground. Our technicians and engineers have to develop a feeling for a customer’s specific processes so that they can make targeted application recommendations.
Gravestones: the trend is toward in-house production
In the field of gravestone producers, a clear trend towards increased in-house production will be reflected at Stone+tec, describes Jörg Knell, Managing Director of Steinwerk Tringenstein GmbH: “Due to unpredictable delivery times and massively increased transport costs, there is a revival of German manufacturing. In addition, the gap between import and in-house production costs has narrowed, which plays into our favor as a domestic producer.” As design trends for Stone+tec 2022, Jörg Knell names new types of material combinations and surface finishes, but also further development of the successful Memento series.
Susanne Böse from Natursteinwerk Max Böse GmbH also emphasizes the trend towards in-house production: “Especially since 2020, global logistics have been in crisis due to delivery delays and huge price increases. Production facilities abroad – triggered by the coronavirus pandemic – are only making delayed deliveries. But we’re very happy that we can offer our customers the service of our own German production.” Personal discussions with customers are very important, she says: Only in this way customers’ needs can be correctly determined and only with personal contact is good advice and good service possible.
Heinz Plein, Managing Director of Kunstgießerei Plein GmbH, has noticed that customers are increasingly demanding more individualized grave decorations: “As a manufacturing company, this naturally suits us very well.” An important trend is an increasing demand for stainless steel grave ornaments. In response, the company has published a catalog in 2022 with an expanded stainless steel range for the first time. Like the other exhibitors, Heinz Plein is looking forward to finally meeting customers in person again at Stone+tec: “Fortunately, one-on-one conversations can never be completely replaced by telephone calls and emails.”
Günter Czasny, Deputy Managing Director of Kunstgießerei Ernst Strassacker GmbH & Co. KG, observes a stable, even slightly growing market for grave ornaments and accessories: “Grave ornament design is clear, honest and straightforward. Material authenticity is at the top of customers’ lists. The material characteristics of bronze or stainless steel are therefore left visible and tangible.”
Günter Czasny sees the trade fair as the most important inspiration platform for further developing not only companies, but also the industry and its markets: “A trade fair is no longer primarily for selling, but for inspiration. Where else but at a trade fair can you find such a variety of inspiration. I describe a trade fair as a fireworks display of inspiration and innovation. Whether it’s construction, interior design or cemeteries – the fair serves the collective further development of our entire industry. Thus, participation and a visit are an absolute must.”
Stone+tec, the international competence forum for natural stone and stone technology, will take place at the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre. It is divided into three major themes being “Building with Natural Stone“, “Equipment for Pros“, and “Place of Memory“. Stone+tec is directed at all stone processors from building construction, cemeteries, historic monuments and design, as well as property developers, planners and architects. In addition to this, it is accompanied by a trade congress offering the possibility of further training.
New products and methods of the branch can be seen in the Innovation Area.
The Organizer of Stone+tec trade fair is AFAG Messen und Ausstellungen GmbH, one of Germany’s most successful private companies in this field. It has been operating out of Nuremberg since 1947 and from Augsburg since 1991. Its portfolio currently comprises 20 events, including both international trade fairs and nationwide exhibitions for the public. AFAG is also responsible for organizing special-interest fairs, congresses, events and shows.
(17.02.2022, USA: 02.17.2022)