In a few short weeks, more than 500,000 construction professionals will invade the Munich Trade Center in Germany for bauma 2007. For six days, from April 23–29, construction leaders from around the world will pause and look at the future of construction. The expansive event is located about 20 minutes by underground subway from the city's historic downtown area.

“The bauma brand stands for innovation,” says Dr. Christof Kemmann, chairman of the bauma Advisory Board. At a pre-show press conference in January, Kemmann demonstrated this claim by announcing the 15 nominations of products that showcase German technology. These products included a new style of blockmaker from Lasco Umformtechnik, Putzmeister's SH steady end-hose, and new style of concrete mixer from Eirich Maschinenfabrik.

Fifty years in the making, bauma is quite an event. And with such world-class activities, it's best to plan well. So here are five tips on how to get the most from this unique experience.

1) Study the map. We often fail to remember that Germany is about the same size as Montana. Munich, Germany's third largest city, is similar in size to Philadelphia.

As a result, housing is very tight. The only hotels available may be a one-hour train ride from the convention center. But don't let that thwart you from going. Mass transit in Munich is easy to use and runs on time. And the quaint towns along the route offer a great look at German hospitality.

2) Try to schedule your booth visits before the show. With so many attendees, exhibitors have developed a protocol about gaining access to their key executives. Review the exhibitor list on the Web site, and send them an e-mail to let them know of your interest. They will assign you to the appropriate representative who can speak English. This will make your visit extremely worthwhile.

3) Allow more time for booth visits. Exhibitors invest lots of time and resources to make their booths look like showcases. Most include a live action demonstration or event to attract your attention. Some exhibitors even have test areas where customers can test their equipment. Most exhibitors want you to do more than just pick up a brochure.

4) Think strategically. In many circumstances, the products unveiled here will not be available to the North American market until later this year or even next March. Issues of patents, conversions, and in some cases, developing a strong dealer network delay introduction. The new products and equipment innovations will provide you a sense of the immediate future. In many ways, this is your opportunity to develop a plan for the next three years. Remember that products new to the United States, such as self-consolidating concrete, have been in Europe for many years.

5) Relish the diversity. With only 4% of the attendees coming from North America, bauma will offer a rare opportunity to learn about the challenges of concrete production and construction from around the world. In many exhibitors' booths, you will hear discussions in more than five or six languages. By exchanging thoughts and experiences, you will be able to learn many new ideas.

For more information about bauma 2007, including registration, exhibitors, and accommodations, visit the event's official Web site atwww.bauma.de.