The 27th edition of BIEMH, hosted May 28 to June 2 at the Bilbao Exhibition Center, attracted more than 34,000 attendees from all over the world.
Although I didn’t expect blisters and sore legs to be among the souvenirs I’d bring back from my trip to Spain a few weeks ago, they were both well-earned and well worth it. I could never let an unfamiliar city go unexplored, and if the sights, sounds and smells of a relatively recently beautified Bilbao weren’t sufficient motivation to keep me on my feet, the Spanish custom of moving from café to café to sample the selection of “pintxos” (known elsewhere in the country as “tapas”) certainly was.
Hopping from café to café for a small beer or wine and a couple of pintxos—snacks that typically consist of bread topped with all manner of meats, vegetables and cheeses—is a popular pastime for both locals and MMS editors in Bilbao.
Located in the Basque country along the northern coast, the picturesque city is dotted with parks, playgrounds and other green spaces, all a result of a revitalization effort over the past few decades to boost tourism and soften the more negative aspects of the heavy industry that has traditionally driven its economy. That’s not to say, however, that the city has abandoned its role as an industrial hub. Every two years, it plays host to BIEMH, one of the largest manufacturing technology exhibitions in Europe and the primary destination for my trip.
Touring the trade show by day proved just as tiring—and, more importantly, just as eye-opening—as touring pintxos bars by night. Spanish suppliers, most of which are based within 50 miles of Bilbao, are mostly small- to mid-sized, often family-owned companies focused on high-quality equipment that is typically custom-tailored for specific customer production requirements. Despite significant hurdles to succeeding in the United States, many see potential for machine configurations and other technologies that are often quite different than what manufacturers are used to seeing here. This slideshow provides a brief overview of what these companies have to offer.