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Viewpoints: Momentum, Excitement, Magic—IMTS is a Can’t-Miss!


 Doug Woods
Doug Woods
President, The Association for Manufacturing Technology

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re already familiar with IMTS. Four months out, the excitement is building for what promises to be the best show yet. As exhibitors are putting the finishing touches on the innovative new technologies they’ll debut in September and attendees from all over the world are planning their trip to Chicago, the staff at AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology—is hard at work organizing the show.

There is no better time to get a sense of manufacturing’s invigorated pulse—to see and feel it—than IMTS. Manufacturing has rebounded dramatically since the recession and has been a leading force behind our economic recovery. Today, the combination of low energy prices in the US, rising wages overseas, and a variety of other factors has led to increased reshoring and foreign direct investment, bringing a new wave of production onto US shores. Meanwhile, the need to modernize factories—the average age of capital equipment in the US is almost 22 years—and low interest rates are creating a perfect mix of demand and opportunity. There will be plenty of serious buyers at IMTS.

AMT also looks forward to supporting an ever increasing number of tour requests from government officials and staff as they zero in on advanced manufacturing technologies and their increasing impact on driving the economy and supporting our national security. This is one area Congress and the Administration can agree on—manufacturing is important!

The bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act passed the Commerce Committee, an important step toward the act becoming law. RAMI would establish the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) made up of more than a dozen innovation institutes, each focused on specific technology. The goal is public-private collaboration that speeds the commercialization of advanced manufacturing technologies and trains workers for the high-tech jobs they create. The Administration has already launched several institutes, and AMT is a proud partner in two of them, America Makes (NAMII) and the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII). IMTS will be showcasing the NNMI in the Emerging Technology Center.

IMTS has long been on the leading edge of technology and is the place where you can “see it first.” Digital manufacturing and data collection has moved from “leading edge” to commonplace as big data and the Industrial Internet are transforming the manufacturing process. After its debut at IMTS 2008, MTConnect has graduated from the Emerging Technology Center to the show floor and, most importantly, to the shop floor. Its momentum continues to build. MTConnect will have a pivotal role at the new NNMI centers like DMDII, NIST continues to leverage the standard in its open source quest for the industry, and the Department of Defense has rallied behind MTConnect with its endorsement of a number of Challenges being awarded to applications of the standard. MTConnect usage has grown as manufacturers have seen the benefit to having a common communications standard for shop floor equipment and devices, as well as a common way to monitor processes and to collect and analyze shop floor data.

Manufacturers are also increasing their investments in robotics and automation technologies (and sensors to go with it) to improve their productivity, efficiency, and data collection from the factory floor. Industrial Automation North America, an event that first co-located with IMTS in 2012, is coming back with double the floor space in 2014, a direct indicator of that increased demand.

Of course it wouldn’t be IMTS without some good eye candy. Local Motors will again build a car during the show in the Emerging Technology Center, just as they did in 2012, but with a twist—this time, it’s an electric vehicle, and the car’s body will be printed at the show with additive manufacturing technology.
Keeping an eye toward the future, IMTS will also feature the Smartforce Student Summit, bringing in students, parents, and educators for a firsthand look at the high-tech world of modern manufacturing.

This is as exciting a time as ever for our industry and a fantastic time to ride on this momentum as we count down the weeks until IMTS 2014. If you’re passionate about manufacturing and want to be part of creating the best industry possible, you just have to be there! ME

This article was first published in the June 2014 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.

Published date: 6/1/2014

Published Date : 6/1/2014

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