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mt-g goes IDS 2021 – Why trade fairs are worthwhile

Business as usual and yet somehow different – this is probably an apt description of this year‘s IDS dental trade fair in Cologne. Somehow different because of hygiene standards, such as mandatory mask-wearing and minimum social distancing, but nevertheless an unmistakable opportunity to cultivate existing customer relationships, to make new contacts and for us ourselves to find out about all the innovations in the dental sector. We couldn't pass it up and would like to share our experience. Ready? Let's go!

 

22 September 2021 – Setting off for Cologne

This time, we were represented by five staff members: my colleagues Enrique Guzzetti, Catherine Schwarz and Anastasia Simon from Customer Management, our quality manager Samuel Aubin, and me, Lilli Ostwald, as the direct connection to the Team Dentistry and Dental Technology project management.

We set off from our headquarters in Ulm on Wednesday at 7 o‘clock in the morning. Just all the trade fair materials such as brand new business cards and information folders left to pack quickly and then it was off to Cologne. Still a little tired, admittedly, but nevertheless in a spirit of optimism!

 

 

The IDS - facts, figures, info

So, what exactly is the IDS anyway? And why is it of so much interest to us as a specialist medical translation provider?

The IDS (International Dental Show) usually takes place every 2 years. This year, it was held from 22 to 25 September, having unfortunately been cancelled last year due to coronavirus. The main exhibitors are manufacturers and companies as well as associations and institutions with a direct connection to dentistry and dental technology products and equipment. This has made it an unmissable date in our diary for some years now. In the past, the IDS has always enabled us not only to see old acquaintances such as our customers in person again at last but also to bring ourselves up to date on the latest technical developments. And there was a lot on offer this year, too.

First, though, a subject that was understandably also a preoccupation for this trade fair: How to run an event with so many participants coronavirus-securely? Following the cancelation of last year’s IDS because of case numbers being too high, a comprehensive hygiene plan to make all visitors feel safe became top priority.

Entry was granted only by prior registration and also only to people who had been vaccinated, had recovered or had tested negative. It was mandatory for a medical face mask to be worn everywhere inside and this was also monitored by stewards. Only outside as well as in the booths were visitors allowed to remove their masks. However, many decided to keep their masks on anyway, even though restrictions have been eased in North-Rhine Westphalia since 20 September.

 

Arrival in Cologne – let‘s get going!

Having arrived safely, there was just one thing left to clarify: as a team or each on their own? As we had not traveled with our own booth this year, we armed ourselves with our knowledge and enough mt-g information folders and were ready to go.

 

We decided to split up for most of the time so that we could each focus on our own area of work. However, there were still some situations in which we preferred to collaborate as a team, such as when it came to probably the most pleasurable part of attending a trade fair:

 

Visiting customers

At a trade fair? Most people at a fair are probably thinking about making money, making deals and making a profit. For us, though, the focus was on cultivating close links and delivering the best possible customer care. This is why it was important to us to meet existing customers and talk to them about our collaboration and further improvements.

 

A definite personal highlight for me was to see the translations I take care of day-in, day-out as a project manager “in the wild” – on huge posters, imposing booths and as information material in the hands of lots of trade fair visitors. Face-to-face conversations also raised other topics, such as the implementation of the upcoming MDR, which we as experts were only too happy to address.

Of course, we were interested not just in the status quo with our customers but also in the sector innovations presented.

 

Focuses of the trade fair

Whether CAD/CAM technologies, 3D printing, alloys, instruments, sterilizing agents, UV devices, protective materials, and so on and so forth – everything that shapes day-to-day dental practice was present at the IDS.

For us as a specialist medical translation provider, it is especially important not just to process the texts we receive for translation but also to gain a better understanding of the subject matter in itself.

Against the background of COVID-19, protective equipment for dental staff in practices and labs is a hot topic. Due to the global pandemic and the realization that it is spread by aerosols, which also circulate in dental practices every day, many manufacturers brought innovative strategies for curbing them to the fair.

From improved protective clothing and anti-viral mouthwashes to devices that can make vapors immediately visible or even suction them up straightaway, they presented a wide range of effective strategies that would probably not have been focused on without the pandemic.

Another central theme of the trade fair was the further development of 3D printing and its wider availability in dental practices and dental labs. Although 3D printing technology has been around for years, it has still not become established in the dental sector, despite its broad spectrum of applications in the fabrication of all kinds of materials. At the IDS, this was explained to us as coming down to two factors:

Firstly, a 3D printer is very expensive and, secondly, not all practices and labs need a large enough number of printouts to make purchasing it affordable. For this reason, partial solutions, mainly comprising smaller, compacter and more cost-effective devices, were presented at the fair. It was interesting to find out how the manufacturers make this possible, and it will be exciting to see whether this technology also becomes established in smaller businesses in the years ahead.

It was also worth taking a second look at the countless instruments and practice equipment, even if they were all too recognizable from the last visit to the dentist. We can only hope that our own practices are up to date with the technology!

 

Was it worthwhile?

Business as usual and yet somehow different – this phrase from the start of my post is probably the most apt description of this year‘s IDS. Mandatory mask-wearing and minimum social distancing have now become part of everyday life. Many people did not find either of these a nuisance; on the contrary, they were seen as an extra safety factor.

It became clear from many conversations that it was not about “quantity over quality” for the exhibitors and booths this time, unlike in previous years. The walkways were clearer and it was even possible to get a seat in one of the cafes. Many participants told us that the quality of visits and conversations in the booths had increased considerably. We can only endorse this.

As there were fewer exhibitors and participants overall this year, there was enough time to have pleasant conversations with those present on site. For example, topics not strictly within the everyday world of work sometimes came up and, instead of rushing from booth to booth, it was possible to find out about new developments and innovations in depth this time.

This enabled us to take a better look at many different booths, chat with the exhibitors, and in this way learn more about new developments and existing technologies, too.

It was also an exciting and worthwhile experience for us as a team with this make-up – customer management, quality manager and project management. In the three days we were able to spend together at the trade fair, it was above all the combination of the three different areas of expertise that enabled us not only to address the wishes and needs of our existing customers and cover all the areas right there on site but also to benefit reciprocally from each other’s knowledge and grow personally as a result.

 

So, for mt-g, the conclusion is perfectly clear: It will be our pleasure to go back again! The IDS is and will remain for us an important fixed point in the trade fair calendar. We look forward to finding out about the conditions under which the next IDS will take place, and say:

Until next time! See you in Cologne between 23 and 28 March 2023!

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