It's early September of an even numbered year, and for those of us in metalworking trades, that can mean only one thing—IMTS. Every two years the best minds in our industry gather in Chicago. They come from as far away as Europe, Asia and Australia, but also from the strong job shop base around northern Illinois. IMTS—the International Manufacturing Technology Show—will be occupying almost one and a half million square feet of display space in all three buildings of McCormick Place. IMTS 2000 will exhibit and demonstrate the largest assemblage of manufacturing technology ever seen in America.
Visitors get to see the latest in global manufacturing technology—the best and most productive machine tools in the world. The machines on display are truly state-of-the-art, with such characteristics as quality, precision, reliability and speed. Visitors will get to compare similar equipment side-by-side. The ten pavilions allow grouping of similar products, thereby making it easier to evaluate specific kinds of machine tools and other manufacturing technology.
The potential solutions to your manufacturing problems are available at the exhibition. You can evaluate the technology and productivity of competitive products with the builders' application engineers. Come prepared to discuss specifics! I don't know of another situation where you can receive quality answers to those problems that are keeping your organization from being as productive as possible.
Before you go, visit the Web site at www.imts.org. All exhibitors are listed with descriptions of the products and services that they represent. In addition, there is also a section that allows you to request all exhibitors that produce a specific type of product. The service will even print a map to get you from one booth to the next as quickly as possible. Remember, this is a big show, and you will have to be as organized as possible to take advantage of the limited amount of time that most of us can afford to be away from our shops.
The machine halls are interesting, and in the August issue of Modern Machine Shop the editors discussed the presentation in detail. That was the "BIG" IMTS issue. However, this month's copy should be hitting your desk just as you are planning what to see. I, like the other 125,000 plus visitors, will spend a considerable amount of time walking the show. I will be checking out the latest machines with all the new "bells and whistles." Eventually I will go to the Tooling and Workholding Pavilion, the place where I know solutions to your manufacturing problems await.
The Tooling and Workholding Pavilion features everything from cutting tools to Z-axis fixturing. If there is an accessory designed to make your life easier, then this is where you will find it. Most new products in this area are the result of a person's need to create a fix to a problem in his or her own shop.
The top staff of most exhibitors will be present at the displays. This includes presidents and design engineers. Plan to meet with these folks. Bring them your problems. Ask for their ideas on how to solve them. In essence, take advantage of the largest gathering of the top minds in our industry. This is an educational opportunity that you can not afford to miss.
The coming years can be as prosperous as any that your organization has ever experienced. All that is necessary is for you to stay focused on staying as technically advanced as possible. Visiting IMTS is important for that very reason. In addition, that is why it is as necessary for our smallest shops to attend this event as it is for the largest. There surely is going to be hardware on display, but what I urge you to be looking for are the ideas that will allow you to remain competitive in the future.