IMTS ready to help lead manufacturing rally

In a pivotal year for manufacturing in the U.S. and around the globe, the biennial International Machine Tool Show is delivering new ideas and forging new partnerships as its prepares for the show in mid-September. We discussed those changes and challenges with Douglas Woods, president of the Association for Manufacturing Technology, the sponsor of IMTS:


Q: In the two years since the last IMTS Show, manufacturing has undergone fundamental change in the U.S. and globally. How does AMT assess the current state of manufacturing?

Woods: We are optimistic about the future. Not only do indicators forecast continuing strengthening results, but the idea that major manufacturing-centered organizations like AMT and NAM are coming together to revitalize the reputation of manufacturing as fundamental to the economy is a positive.

AMT keeps an eye on the key indicators for our industry and our customers’ markets. We look at the manufacturing technology order outlook and the outlook for our industry’s customers’ market – the durables manufacturing market.

The top two indicators we follow are the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) and capacity utilization (CU) indices. A PMI greater than 50 suggests an expanding economy and orders for manufacturing technology products are usually on a year-on-year growth rate -- even if the growth is from a larger negative rate to a smaller negative rate.

The PMI bottomed out in December 2008 and has been above the magic 50 index for the past nine months. It has grown faster in the last four months than in the first four months after it broke 50.

The capacity utilization rate does have different impacts on the two markets. The CU rate shows a slow change indicator for manufacturing technology with recovery to full health by May 2011, but currently a growing indicator for customer markets.

Fortunately, other indicators offset the caution that the CU rate throws on the manufacturing technology orders so that the net result is that the indicators, as a whole, suggest that both order and shipment forecasts are healthy for 2010.


Q: How will the 2010 IMTS Show help address some of the issues facing manufacturing over the next two years?


Woods: We expect IMTS 2010 to be a real rally cry for the manufacturing technology industry and all of manufacturing. Manufacturing is critical to the global economy. It puts machines and people to work and produces the goods we need for a quality life. As we begin to see signs of recovery it is the right time to invest in ourselves and our future, and that is what we’re hearing from our exhibitors and the thousands of manufacturing professionals registering to attend the show.

An important activity at IMTS is what we call transfer of technology. The show provides the forum for new equipment and know-how to be shared with shops and plants. IMTS is six full days of innovation, technology, best practices, networking and the place where experts come together in one place at one time to share what they know. After IMTS 2008, 88% of the attendees said they were successful in finding specific products or solving specific manufacturing problems.

 Douglas Woods, AMT


 Visitors tell us they leave IMTS with entirely new knowledge that can serve them for years to come. When they face an engineering challenge, something they learned or someone they met at IMTS is at the top of the mind. There are companies who get a contract simply because they remembered a technology from IMTS that would allow them to make a part quickly, accurately and economically. Exhibitors tell us that IMTS can fill their lead pipeline for the two years between shows and is a critical marketing activity that supports their success.

As show managers, we see our job as rounding out the IMTS experience beyond the exhibits. Our objective is to show the results of innovation. That’s why we’ll be kicking off this year’s IMTS with “Industry Inspiration Day” in the South Building, with keynote speakers including Allan McArtor, chairman and CEO of Airbus; Jim Tetreault, who is vice president of North American Manufacturing at the Ford Motor Company; Denise Bode, the president and CEO of the American Wind Energy Association; and Rene van de Zande, president and CEO of the Emergo Group.

In the lobby of the North Building we’ll have the Emerging Technology Center, which will feature cloud computing, additive manufacturing, nanotechnology and micro-manufacturing, and MTConnect. The Advanced Manufacturing Center will be located in the West Building, where Gardner Publications and Boeing will have a Rolls-Royce Dreamliner jet engine on display, and GIE Media will be showing a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. There will also be a Tesla high-performance electric roadster on view.

There will be a Manufacturing Museum in the East Building, with machinery on display from different points in the history of industrial development, and a “social media encounter” at the end where you can videotape your thoughts about the experience. Throughout the event we’ll be holding the IMTS 2010 Industry & Technology Conference, which will feature presentations in the areas of materials engineering, machining technology and trends, alternative manufacturing processes, metrology, and plant operations.


Q: Anyone who has attended past IMTS shows knows the breadth of products and solutions available, but in these challenging times, manufacturers are selective about the shows they attend. Why is IMTS 2010 a can’t-miss event?

Woods: Superior employees know how to make the most out of limited resources. Companies who participate in IMTS consistently find their team is more motivated, more up-to-date on technology and trends and more focused on reaching, and even exceeding, their company goals.

Attending IMTS 2010 can make the difference between a manufacturing operation thriving or continuing to struggle in improving economic times.

This is the only event where visitors can see and compare the world of machines, latest technologies and tools side by side. The research aspect is staggering. They can see, touch and operate equipment that might be suitable for their plant. By taking parts and drawings to the show, they can learn new ways to make them better and faster. All of the major builders and suppliers within a product line are in one place where they can discuss our specific day-to-day challenges.

Manufacturing professionals return to their plants with entirely new knowledge that can serve them for years to come. When they face an engineering challenge, they remember something they learned or someone they met at IMTS. There are companies who get a contract simply because they remembered a technology from IMTS that would allow them to make a part quickly, accurately and economically.


Q: Talk about the new partnerships with organizations such as NAM and Hannover Messe. How do these relationships strengthen AMT and the industry?


Woods: IMTS is fostering a number of industry partnerships. Manufacturing as a whole wants and needs a rallying point and IMTS is becoming that. It is already a gathering point so it makes sense for our industry partners to be present and involved. Our involvement with NAM expands our direct relationship with our members’ and exhibitors’ customers.

Hannover Messe expands our global reach. And Midwest Clean Tech happening in conjunction with IMTS broadens the scope of technology beyond direct manufacturing to important areas that support direct manufacturing.


Q: If I’m a small or mid-sized manufacturer, where is the value in IMTS this year?


Woods: Innovative companies are survivors and they are the ones who invest in themselves and the future. For small and mid-sized manufacturers finding a new process or time saver has a direct and fast impact and IMTS has all of the resources to get the answers.


Q: How do we grow manufacturing, and how is AMT positioned to help in that effort?


Woods: In the heydays of the 1950s, manufacturing represented more than a quarter of the country’s economy and about a third of employment. Today, manufacturing is about 12% of the economy and less than 10% of employment. U.S. companies work at a 17% cost disadvantage versus their foreign competitors. Yet, U.S. manufacturing continues to grow in absolute terms and remains a well spring of innovation. It is a sector that is still competitive globally.

The Obama Administration has recognized that a strong manufacturing sector is important to America’s vitality. The Administration’s “Manufacturing Framework for Revitalizing American Manufacturing” is an important first step in strengthening our country’s beleaguered manufacturers. Manufacturing needs the focused attention of our government if high-value jobs are to be created, if our trade deficit is to be reduced, and if we hope to generate the tax receipts to outweigh our spending.

Now it is time to turn ideas into initiatives and tactics. AMT is bringing forward a Manufacturing Mandate that we feel addresses the need to align our nation’s infrastructure towards developing an innovation economy that can sustain future economic growth. The Mandate is comprised of six basic initiatives and 18 underlying tactics. The basic initiatives include:

·                                 Incentivizing innovation and R&D in new products and manufacturing technologies

·                                 Assuring the availability of capital

·                                 Increasing global competitiveness and promotion of exports

·                                 Minimizing structural cost burdens

·                                 Enhancing collaboration between government, academia and industry

·                                 Building a better educated and trained “Smartforce”


This past February, I delivered that message to Ron Bloom, the senior advisor on manufacturing to the President. The White House is aligned with a majority of the initiatives that the Mandate promotes.

There are differing views on some issues such as taxes and regulations, and a there will clearly be a continuing debate on these points. It is also clear that the Administration wants to achieve a stable environment in which our manufacturers can operate.

With commitment and hard work we believe that U.S. manufacturing’s brightest days are still to come, and AMT, our members and our industry partners will play a vital role.

IMTS 2010

IMTS 2010 is the 28th edition of the premier manufacturing technology show in North America.  More than 1,100 exhibiting companies will occupy 1.2 million net square feet of exhibit space at the McCormick Place complex in Chicago, Illinois.  IMTS is held every even-numbered year in Chicago and attracts more than 92,000 buyers and sellers from over 116 countries.

Sponsor: AMT-The Association for Manufacturing Technology
Dates: September 13-18, 2010
Location: McCormick Place, Chicago, IL USA

Show Hours by Hall:

East: 9:00 am–5:00 pm

West: 9:00 am–5:00 pm

North: 10:00 am–6:00 pm

South: 10:00 am–6:00 pm


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