Cover Story: Be There – IMTS 2012

July 20, 2012 No Comments
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In preparation for the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association (MPMA) sat down for an in-depth interview with Peter Eelman, vice president of exhibitions and communications with The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT).

PM: Welcome back! It’s always a pleasure to invite you to talk about IMTS. First things first: What will the Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) and The American Machine Tool Distributors Association (AMTDA) merger mean to the show this year?

AMT: In early March of this year, the AMT and the AMTDA announced the merger of the two associations. This consolidation and integration of products and services into the new Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT) marks a stronger, larger representation of companies across the entire manufacturing technology supply chain—those who design, build, sell, and service the continuously evolving technology that lies at the heart of manufacturing.

Historically AMT’s membership was comprised of OEMs that design and build machine tools and related equipment. AMTDA supported those who distribute, put into operation, and service the equipment. They shared the goal of providing the technology and the knowledge to implement it successfully. They shared an investment in U.S. innovation and manufacturing. It’s clear that it is not acceptable to guess at an unknown future; and yet, success lies in forecasting where it will lead. In a world where collaboration and new processes are redefining manufacturing, AMT will be able to do this with a new intensity.

What we can expect to see going forward, and particularly at IMTS, is a reflection of this unified supply chain with builders and distributors, working more closely than ever to make manufacturing technology users more productive and profitable.

PM: What is your forecast for the remainder of this year and into 2013?

AMT: We are truly witnessing a manufacturing renaissance in this country. Analysis of manufacturing technology orders provides a reliable leading economic indicator, as it suggests that manufacturing firms are investing in capital equipment to increase their capacity and improve productivity. Clearly, manufacturing technology provides a foundation for all other manufacturing. These machines and devices convert raw materials such as steel, iron, plastic, ceramics, composites, and alloys from their original state as stock materials into what will become durable goods such as airplanes, cars, and appliances, as well as consumer and other goods that are used every day.

The experts are clustered together, forecasting either a small increase or a small decrease in manufacturing technology orders for 2012 compared to 2011. Whatever the result for the 2012 cycle, it will be either the top or second best number in the past decade. The 2011 year has top honors so far.

The pessimists have tied the projected downturn in 2012 to how phenomenally well the 2011 year ended, and believe that 2012 simply will not do as well. That said, the 21 percent increase in orders over the first quarter of 2012, as well as quotation activity and supply chain news suggest that a pessimistic outlook for 2012 is unwarranted. We do not anticipate a slip in orders. However, if a dip occurs, it will be late this year because, in IMTS years, orders are delayed or moved forward towards show months.

Looking forward to 2013, we expect to see an uptick as U.S. manufacturing continues its momentum and reshoring becomes more prevalent.

U.S. manufacturers will seek these gains in productivity through automation and innovative technologies to increase their global competitiveness. The weak dollar is making exports strong. The manufacturing base is reinvesting in the latest tools. Energy will continue to be a large investor in manufacturing technology. The automotive industry is making major changes to address green issues, which will lead to significant investments in production technology, as well as spending to support the shift of the industry’s center from Detroit to the south/southwest. Aerospace green field investments will continue in the southeast and west.

PM: How is the focus of IMTS shifting with each show?

AMT: We’ve teamed up with Deutsche Messe to co-locate the first-ever Industrial Automation North America (IANA) with IMTS. IANA will showcase products and solutions for production automation, complementing IMTS’ focus on machine tools, metalworking, and precision manufacturing. We are thrilled to reinforce the international nature of IMTS by having one of manufacturing’s premier trade show organizers join with us. This is a major step in expanding and strengthening the range of solutions available to IMTS visitors.

We are seeing a hunger for education in the industry and we are answering that with an increased offering of educational opportunities that are offered in conjunction with the show. It’s ironic because, in the early years, IMTS was actually an educational event and only turned into a buying/selling forum after World War II.

We are co-locating six conference programs this year, two of which are part of our new partnership with Deutsch Messe at IANA. Details can be found at

PM: What’s new at the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) this year?

AMT: The ETC will have the biggest feature yet—a Local Motors Rally Fighter car, built live right on the show floor, as part of the Collaborative Manufacturing section of the ETC. Local Motors is the first disruptive U.S. automaker to enter the market in decades, and is built on the principle of collaborative manufacturing. The designs for its cars come from an open source design community.

There will be three other big features in the ETC: Additive Manufacturing, MTConnect® (the open-source communications and interconnectivity standard for manufacturing equipment and devices), and MTInsight (the game-changing customized manufacturing business intelligence system).

PM: Exhibitors and IMTS’ media partners increasingly have been spotlighting end-use products that result from manufacturing technology. Any surprises this year?

AMT: GIE Media will be presenting its Today’s Technology Center at IMTS and Gardner Publications will be returning with the Advanced Manufacturing Center. Both are bringing exciting exhibits.

GIE, mirroring their publications’ content, has plans for a Wright Brothers plane and simulator as well as three Drones which will show the transition from the very birth of flight to today’s pilot-free aircrafts. They also will feature a Buckeye Bullet car (which holds the land-speed record for an electric car), a simulated human body (with which visitors can interact), and a residential windmill.

Gardner Publications will feature automotive and aerospace end products—details will be forthcoming closer to the show.

As we get closer to the show, we also will be spotlighting highlights from exhibitors on how their technology is used by manufacturers.

PM: What advice do you have for a first-time attendee? How can he or she make the best use of the time available?

AMT: Use the tools we make available on and use the Internet to study the industry publications before visiting IMTS. We provide the “MyShow Planner” so visitors can create a custom list of companies exhibiting at IMTS, as well as organize sessions and appointments with their own personal calendar.

We can’t stress enough the importance of bringing a buying team, in which each member has an assignment. This is the way we see the most successful companies get the most out of IMTS.

For all things “IMTS,” visitors and exhibitors alike should sign up for the two IMTS e-newsletters, the IMTS Insider and the IMTS Technology.

And, with miles of exhibit space to cover, we suggest very comfortable shoes!

On the following pages you will find information on several MPMA member distributors. The distributors highlight trends, what to expect and what they will be featuring at IMTS 2012. pm_endmarkblue-e1320337140493

Also be sure to check out our IMTS 2012 Quick Guide.

Copyright © 2012 Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association. For permission to use or reprint this article please contact Amy Slettum, publications manager for Precision Manufacturing journal.

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