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SMM expects more visitors and exhibitors

The focus of this year’s leading ship technology trade fair SMM is the decarbonisation of shipping. The organisers are expecting an increase in visitors and exhibitors, and the halls are almost fully booked.

From 3 to 6 September, SMM 2024 will be a hotspot for the maritime industry. According to the SMM organisers, the 31st SMM will focus on the maritime energy transition and digital transformation. With less than five months to go before the start of the trade fair, interest in SMM among experts is “huge”, according to Hamburg Messe & Congress (HMC). [ds_preview]

“We are expecting more than 2,000 international exhibitors from 70 countries from September 3 to 6, 2024. This means we are almost fully booked. We are overwhelmed by the huge demand. We are even building an additional hall to meet all the requests,” says Claus Ulrich Selbach, Head of the Maritime and Technology Fairs Division at Hamburg Messe und Congress. “Ticket sales are also going well – we are expecting more than 40,000 participants,” he says.

According to HMC, the positive business development is partly due to the fact that more Asian exhibitors and visitors are returning after the pandemic. “The two leading shipbuilding nations of China and Korea, in particular, are once again showing a greater presence at SMM 2024,” it says. In addition, the internationality and density of key players at SMM is attracting exhibitors and visitors, says Selbach.

SMM is dedicated to AI, alternative fuels and cruise ship construction

The key topics at SMM 2024 are geared towards the needs of the industry. As smart innovations are rapidly gaining in importance, SMM is dedicating a separate area to artificial intelligence for the first time: start-ups will present the latest AI technologies and projects for the maritime industry in the AI Center (Hall B6). “AI is fundamentally changing our economy and business processes – across all industries. It also offers numerous opportunities for the shipping industry,” says Petra Vorsteher, co-founder and Managing Director of AI.Hamburg and initiator of the AI Center. These include innovative solutions for more efficient ship operations.

However, the key to climate-neutral shipping is alternative fuels, according to HMC. Only with them can Mission Zero succeed. “Through efficiency measures, shipowners are already reducing 30% of their emissions in current ship operations, and a further 10% is possible. The rest must come from alternative fuels,” says Martin Kröger, Managing Director of the German Shipowners’ Association. At the GMEC environmental conference on 4 September, experts and scientists will debate the advantages and disadvantages of the various alternative fuels. Hydrogen is seen as a great source of hope: companies specialising in hydrogen technology and hydrogen derivatives will have their own exhibition area in the Future Fuels Arena (Hall A2) for the first time.

With around 130 companies from 20 countries from the ship interiors sector, the special area for Marine Interiors @SMM (Hall B5) is growing “significantly this year”, according to the trade fair organisers. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is a new official partner of SMM: the leading cruise association is planning sessions on sustainable cruise shipping on the Cruise & Ferry Stage. A look at the global order books shows that this topic is very important in the cruise industry: 41 cruise ships are to be delivered by the end of 2026, 27 of which are to be equipped with alternative drive systems. Although this also includes the bridging technology LNG, many of the ships powered by it will be methanol-ready or methanol-capable.

Sustainability to convince young talent at Maritime Career Market

The maritime industry hopes that the green course will appeal to the urgently needed young talent. To support the industry in recruiting, SMM 2024 is placing the topic prominently. The Maritime Career Market & Career Forum will take place on two days for the first time (Hall B2).

“Sustainability is particularly important to young people. At the Maritime Career Market, companies can prove that the maritime industry as a whole has a lot to offer,” says Christoph Lücke, Director SMM. This is where young people get to know potential employers. They receive information on professions on land and at sea as well as on training paths, career opportunities and vacancies in the maritime industry.

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Copyright: © Hamburg Messe und Congress/Michael Zapf

Caption: © Hamburg Messe und Congress/Michael Zapf