A Case for Trade Show “Extras”

While it is important to just walk the show floor to see what new technology is available, make sure you are checking the show for lunches, knowledge bars and other opportunities to learn.

SEW Eurodrive presents during a Makino Lunch and Learn Session during IMTS 2016

SEW Eurodrive's Plant Manager Chuck Chandler shared how and why his company began exploring automation during a Makino Lunch and Learn session at IMTS 2016.

I have attended the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) for the past five editions. Each time I walk the show floor, I learn how to do it better: Don’t break in new shoes during the show, try your best to get a good night’s sleep, schedule downtime between appointments so you have time to digest and reflect on what you just saw/learned, and make time to aimlessly walk the show floor are just a few lessons I’ve learned over the years.

The big lesson I learned during the 2016 show was to take advantage of the “extras.” By this, I mean do your research: Is there a conference that is taking place during the show? Is there a smaller show that is co-located within a bigger trade show? Are any exhibitors offering knowledge bars, technical sessions, or other opportunities for you to learn from experts in a particular field? If so, drop by!

I had the opportunity to sit in on a Lunch and Learn session from Makino called “Firsthand Lessons for Shops Considering Automation, But Don’t Know Where to Start.” Although this session was a bit of a hike from the exhibits, it was well worth my time. I found it very useful in its simplicity: SEW Eurodrive’s Plant Manager Chuck Chandler shared how and why his company began exploring automation more than a decade ago, some of the challenges they faced, and how, ultimately, a relationship with Makino helped the company reach its automation goals. You can read a full case study on SEW’s automation experience here.

I appreciated the laid-back, honest approach to this presentation. Moreover, it provided an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and have their peers provide off-the-cuff answers. This kind of informal learning adds great value to any trade show experience. Be on the lookout for opportunities like this in the future.