This year's version of the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) will be unlike previous editions. Although the show will run its usual 8 days (September 4-11) at its usual spot (Chicago's McCormick Place), it will be more focused, more concentrated, more intense. It will be a leaner show.
There will be fewer tire kickers and catalog collectors attending this year. Going to McCormick Place just to have a look and carry around a goody bag with an orange yardstick hanging out is a luxury few in our industry can afford right now. Attendees will have a clear purpose and know what they're after. If you go to Chicago for the show, it is because you need to.
The mix of exhibitors will be different. Some regulars have dropped out, making room for some aggressive newcomers. Other exhibitors have scaled back the size of their booths or will be bringing fewer machines. You won't be looking at the same old same old at this show.
Sure, there will be some gee whizzes about new things that are now possible, but the real buzz will be on great things that are now practical. That super machine you wanted at past shows but couldn't afford or couldn't figure out how to tool and program? It's priced within reach now, and the software will have you cutting parts in short order.
Crowds will gather in the same booths as usual, but more people will spend more time hunting down those nifty new products in the small booths in the corners and in the back of the halls. Some of those finds will be the biggest payoff for going.
The stakes are higher at this show than at any recent IMTS. Orders have been so sparse for certain technology suppliers that they are already in survival mode. They're counting on a surge of new business from this show to stay afloat. Other exhibitors see a chance to snatch market share from weaker competitors.
The stakes are high for the shop owners and plant managers who can make it to the show. They may come away with the technology to leverage the skills of the their workforce and be more than ready when business picks up again. The stakes are even higher for those who skip the show and may thereby miss out on the latest developments.
The very last day of the show will be different, too. We will mark with sadness and resolve the destructive events of a year ago. Let us take heart that for 8 days we have been affirming the creative and constructive powers of humanity. They are a true reflection of the loving and creative Power above us all.