Back to the Future: electronica 2022 in Review

By Amy Goetzman | December 06, 2022

Europe’s preeminent electronic components trade show made a great return after a long pandemic hiatus with exhibits aimed at e-mobility, energy, and future high-speed applications.

electronica 2022

After four long years, electronica 2022 reconvened to show off a host of new components aimed at an interconnected and sustainable future. Energy solutions, e-mobility, and automation took the focus at many booths, with efforts toward EU climate goals an overall theme for the show. A new generation of smaller, faster, smarter, greener electronics components designed to help meet sustainability goals were on display, and many companies also touted improved manufacturing or supply chain processes that reduce environmental impact.

electronica 2022 Held in Germany

Host country Germany — already a leader in green technology — is under urgent pressure to innovate climate solutions, with recent devastating floods, drought, and crop failures, and now a potential energy crisis due to Russia’s war on Ukraine. (Before Russia invaded Ukraine, Germany relied on Russia for 55% of its gas supply; now that amount is down to 9.5%.) The country’s exceptional electronics industry was out in full force at electronica 2022, along with companies from France, Spain, the U.K., Switzerland, Italy, the U.S., Taiwan, Slovakia, Turkey, Canada, Greece, Belgium, China, Sweden, Israel, Hong Kong, and many other engineering and manufacturing centers. In all, 2,144 companies from 48 countries exhibited, with 64% coming from outside of Germany. Even so, beer and pretzels were in every hall, giving this show its distinctive sense of place.

In 2020, the biennial electronica trade show was held digitally due to COVID-19, and this year many companies and attendees took a wait-and-see approach, committing late or scaling back staffing. More than 70,000 visitors attended this year’s show, a 14% decrease from 2018, but still a very lively scene. Exhibitors included connector and cable suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, processors, Test & Measurement specialists, materials suppliers, and many other players in the broader electronics world. The industry leaders dominated with real estate; big companies like Digi-Key Electronics and the many Amphenol companies staked out expansive booth spaces, making a serious impression. But up-and-coming and smaller companies demonstrated big ambitions; we heard several identify bold goals: to nip at the heels of TE Connectivity and “the Tiger,” to share in the growing market for single-pair Ethernet and MIL-Spec products, and to send their products into space (or SpaceX).

Diverting manufacturing from China was another theme, with many companies reporting new or planned production facilities in countries such as Mexico, Eastern Europe, India, and Indonesia. The lessons of the pandemic continue, as China battles a rising wave of new infections accompanied by plant closures — efforts to stem the contagion that have also left many electronics companies scrambling for products. HARTING announced a new Mexico facility — as well as a new distribution agreement with TTI Inc.

On the automation front, robotic arms were everywhere, and full robots joined the human staff with Avnet and Fischer Connectors. SPE continues to gain ground, with many manufacturers, including HARTING, Lumberg, and METZ Connect, showing off their versions of the powerful new industrial standard(s).

The electric car revolution is clearly about to take hold. Nearly every company displayed products for EVs or charging networks. Smart metering and battery technologies for homes and businesses were another dominant theme. Phoenix Contact showed solar and energy storage solutions, EDAC showed wind and charging station products, Bel has new e-mobility and charging products, Harwin has smart metering products and is sponsoring an Australian solar car adventure, and Greenconn is opening a facility in Houston aimed at serving EV plants in the region. ITT Cannon is still focused on military and rail components but also showed off a new selection of high-power EV charging connectors. By the time electronica 2024 comes around, it appears a lot more of us will have given up gas-powered vehicles.

Many companies celebrated products at electronica 2022, such as Smith’s Interconnect, with its NXS Ultra-High Density Space Qualified Interconnect Series, which has been awarded the 2022 Elektra Award for Excellence in Product Design (High Reliability Systems).

This year, many companies celebrated milestones. Weidmüller marked 60 years of its OMNIMATE connector, Phoenix Contact marked 50 years of the Combicon, WECO has 100 years of business history, and the RS Group booth was a big red party celebrating the rebranding of the combined companies formerly known as RS Components and Allied Electronics & Automation. The unified company displayed of some of the coolest projects generated by its DesignSpark community, plus a decidedly non-electronic but sustainable and wholly life-changing Washing Machine Project designed for communities in low-water, remote communities in the developing world.

We also admired automation products from 3M and Positronic, miniaturized space products and high-reliability interconnects from Omnetics Connector Corp. and Axon’ Cable, and checked out Lumberg’s connectors for small electronics, including eBikes, and electric chainsaws and other yard tools. (We look forward to the neighbors replacing their two-cycle engines with silent electric models — they’re coming.) European connector companies are known for their elegant design and finishes, and we ogled shiny new audio products from Neutrik, refined PCB connectors from ept connectors, as well as sparkling pins from Lemco Précision SA.

We heard some intriguing whispers of things to come and hope to share them with you in the year ahead. It’s clear that 2023 will bring more new products, capabilities, acquisitions, sponsorships, and other special projects. But electronica 2022 was a resounding success and in-person events are most definitely back. We’ve learned to love the digital meeting but it’s great to see people and products in person. We hope to meet you at DesignCon 2023 in a few weeks for a look at high-speed interconnects and other innovations.

To learn more about the companies mentioned in this article, visit the Preferred Supplier pages for Amphenol Communications Solutions, Amphenol LTW, AirBorn, Avnet, Axon’ Cable, Bel Magnetic Solutions, Digi-Key Electronics, EDAC, ept connectors, Fischer ConnectorsHARTING, Harwin, ITT Cannon, METZ CONNECT, Phoenix Contact, RS Group, Samtec Inc., Smiths InterconnectTE Connectivity, and Weidmüller

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