Being On-Site Agent in Turin: behind the scenes

Cristina May, Head of the Fairs & Events department in Milan, talks about the partnership between FERCAM and Lingotto Fiere. Let's find out how the Business Unit dedicated to this sector with peculiar logistical needs operates, following the set-up and dismantling of Salone Internazionale del Libro (Turin International Book Fair).
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FERCAM is the official logistics partner of Lingotto Torino. Can you tell us more?
FERCAM Fairs & Events has been official partner of the exhibition center for about a year: we won the tender and started working from June 2021. The first fairs and events started in September, then there was a stop due to the pandemic and we resumed again from April 2022. The International Book Fair is the first official fair of 2022.

What kind of fairs does Torino Lingotto host?
Lingotto is a complex fair. Actually it is wrong to call it just a “fair” because it includes the congress center, the competitions of the Piedmont region and, in addition, the exhibition center. FERCAM Fairs & Events manages logistics, handling and transport. The congresses are all private, the competitions are organized through the Fair Authority and the exhibition spaces are sold to the organizers of the fairs.

We are witnessing the setting up of this year’s Salone del Libro, an event of international appeal. How soon do you start working for a fair like this?
There is not much room in advance for the organization of fairs. Ente Fiera provides set-up dates, event dates and dismantling dates. Our service must necessarily correspond to these deadlines, precisely respecting the shared planning. We are provided with a detailed document with all the timetables for organizing staff, forklifts, laborers, fitters, tensile structures and the warehouse.

We are the exclusive partner for all customers who need to enter the exhibition center by mechanical means. Exhibitors who have to transfer a few non-heavy materials (such as cartons or small packages) can operate independently. While those who have to manage the transport of pallets and need transport to the stand by forklift drivers, must necessarily rely on FERCAM. For the International Book Fair we manage the needs of around 150 customers.

Can you tell us a bit what happens when FERCAM Fairs & Events goes into action at a fair?
Fair is a small word, but it hides an enormously complex management that encompasses various activities. FERCAM is able to manage the entire variety of these services: logistics, full load transport, groupage at national and international level, special cargo, all by road, rail, sea or air... Through a single business unit our customers have access to the entire portfolio of our solutions at the same time.

Let's take the current event, the Book Fair, as an example. When my team and I arrived a few days ago, the pavilion was completely empty. The first operators who usually arrive with us are the fitters of the customers, with whom we begin the first movements from our warehouse and the setting up of the exhibition stands.
Some customers request delivery to the stand, others, perhaps smaller stands, have the materials delivered to the tensile structure set up outside our offices. We usually deliver all fair materials the morning of the day before the fair starts. The evening before, we go to the stands of all customers to collect the packaging, pallets and cartons. These materials are placed in the warehouse and returned to customers at the end of the event, in order to repack their displayed products (in this case any unsold books). Once all the pallets have been collected, we bring them back to the warehouse and load them on the vehicles to send them to the senders the next day.

What are the next fairs at Lingotto Fiere that you will handle?
Being On Site Agent we are official partners of Lingotto Fiere, and we will therefore manage all the fairs that are hosted here. The next most important will be in autumn: Restructura, a building fair, which will then be followed by Artissima, an art fair. The next A&T: Automation & Technology wil be in April, then there is that of the bride, that of PET, Expocasa.

Each fair has its own particularity. Perhaps the most complex for operational management is Salone del Libro: at a logistical level we have to organize various groupage transports with small packages, for a really large exhibition area, just think that it occupies all the halls of Lingotto! Artissima is also very challenging, since we find ourselves responding to unique needs, as our colleagues at FERCAM Fine Art know very well. A&T is demanding because it is necessary to move even large machinery and therefore requires the use of cranes, heavy duty forklifts.

We have a team with great experience and we are ready to face any trade fair context and any type of event. All things considered, in FERCAM Fair & Events no day is the same as the previous one, and this is one of the reasons why our work continues to excite us, every day.