Behind the scenes: AIX preparations
As a leading manufacturer in aircraft interiors, AIX is the highlight of our year. It’s a congregation of more than 10 thousand professionals, showcasing thousands of products from hundreds of different businesses, OEMs and airlines – of course we’re excited!
But before those attending travel to Hamburg and the exhibition gets underway, there has already been an enormous amount of work undertaken by each and every exhibitor. Everything from stall design to travel plans to product shipments have to be planned in great detail to ensure that the biggest event of the year runs smoothly.
So, what goes on behind the scenes to make everything come together? We spoke to Mike Gundy, Principal Test Engineer at STG Aerospace, to find out from an engineering product perspective.
One year to go
There isn’t really a point in our calendar that we don’t have an eye on AIX. Even during an exhibition, if something goes wrong or there’s a particularly nifty fix to a problem, you immediately think “I’ll remember that for next year.”
When the exhibition is finished, it’s not long after we return home that we start asking questions like “what went well?” and “what can we do better next year?,” so that’s when the planning really starts. Engineers, salespeople, the marketing team and the leadership team all come together, and the countdown to next year’s event gets underway.
Six months to go
The key plans are in place, and now the engineering team really get to work. We have to take everything into consideration, starting with what products are we showcasing, where in the hall will we be located – that way we know what the electrical requirements will be, and what is needed to make sure we demonstrate our products in the most effective way possible.
Based on that, we then start designing and building our stand. We want everything to be just right so that when we arrive in Hamburg, we’re putting something together that we’ve worked on several times before back in Cwmbran – the key difference being that when you’re in Hamburg, hundreds of other exhibitors are doing exactly the same thing around you.
One month to go
The stand has been built, product installations tested, tweaked and finalised, but now it’s time to dismantle it and get ready to ship it to Hamburg. It’s always a little scary to have spent so long working on something and then ship it overseas, knowing you won’t see it again until you arrive at the exhibition – at which point it’s too late for any major changes.
We send the shipment out two or three weeks before the exhibition, and once it has been sent it’s time to focus on the event itself.
One week to go
What could possibly go wrong? Have I done enough preparation? What haven’t I thought of? Those are the questions that start racing through your mind once the shipment has been sent and things are, for a brief while, out of your control.
After discussions – and reassurances – amongst the team, it’s time to start packing our bags and getting ready to travel to Germany. There will be a few things that I need as soon as we arrive, and that we can’t wait to be delivered to the stand, so they’ll go in my hand luggage. The last thing we want is to be waiting around, twiddling our thumbs in the exhibition hall. Hopefully, with that level of preparation, we’re in a good place for the final step.
One day to go
There is nowhere else on earth quite like the AIX exhibition hall 24 hours before the doors open. You can be so focussed on what you’re doing that you miss the hundreds of other engineers and other personal, doing the same thing around you, but when you stop for a moment you realise the scale of the operation. It’s daunting, but unbelievably exciting at the same time.
On the day before the event, we’re getting everything set up and the team is running through the plans for the next couple of days. We’re building, wiring, lighting and testing our stand to make sure it’s ready to showcase our products to existing and potential new customers.
One whole year of preparation has gone into this, but it’s never quite enough and there is always something to contend with. We learned this last year, when despite the preparation I still found myself using a makeshift workbench – consisting of tens of thousands of pounds worth of equipment – to make the finishing touches. It’s happening all around you though and everyone is in the same boat as they borrow or adapt whatever they need to get the job done.
The next day, the doors open and visitors flood into the exhibition hall. Our work as product engineers isn’t done, and we remain on hand to help out in any way we can (or to fix anything that needs fixing!) But at this point, for the most part, it’s over to the sales and marketing team to do what they do best, and show the world our incredible products.
Are you registered for AIX 2023? If not, there’s still time – just visit our registration link. If you are attending, come and speak to us on stand 5A17, to learn how we can support with your emergency exit and cabin lighting requirements. We hope to see you there!