Purely IMTS

I see interesting contrasts and comparisons between IMTS (this September in Chicago) and the Summer Olympic Games (this month in Beijing). IMTS, it seems to me, is the “purer” event—the one that more closely adheres to its original purpose and intent. We hear much about the Olympic spirit, but the talk is often con

Columns From: 7/23/2008 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Mark Albert

Mark has been writing his Mark: My Word column every month since January, 1981.

I see interesting contrasts and comparisons between IMTS (September 2008 in Chicago) and the Summer Olympic Games (August 2008 in Beijing). IMTS, it seems to me, is the “purer” event—the one that more closely adheres to its original purpose and intent. We hear much about the Olympic spirit, but the talk is often contrived and overblown. Meanwhile, the common bond that brings us together at IMTS goes largely unacknowledged or unexpressed.

I like that IMTS is a thoroughly “commercial” event, with just enough festivities and ceremonial observations to enliven and enlighten it. IMTS takes manufacturing, the business of making things, seriously. But it isn’t all business, and it doesn’t take itself so seriously that it neglects to celebrate the grand and noble work that manufacturing is. IMTS is for and by professionals, those men and women whose livelihoods are connected to manufacturing. You’ll find lifelong careers in manufacturing represented in both the aisles and in the exhibit stands.

At the Olympic Games, “commercialism” is something that organizers must strive to hold in proper balance. As it is, product marketing and merchandising often seem to have the upper hand. The influence of the media has turned some aspects of the games into meaningless hoopla and mere spectacle. It is increasingly difficult to discern that these games have anything to do with educating youth through sports.

I like that competition is a key element in both IMTS and the Olympic Games. The impulse to compete is natural and healthy, whether it inspires the athlete in the sports arena or drives the manufacturing enterprise in the marketplace. Yet, in either realm, this impulse must be governed internally by ethics and externally by competent authorities. Sadly for the games, the lapses of a few athletes in the past have made anti-doping measures an unwelcome intrusion. Let us hope that the gold goes only to honorable and deserving winners this year.

Unlike the Olympics, IMTS does not single out winners—IMTS is most successful when there are no losers. Every exhibitor may enjoy record orders from the 7 days of the show. Likewise, every attendee may find the machine or process that boosts productivity and profitability. Ultimately, the ordinary consumer stands to benefit.

I like that both IMTS and the Olympic Games have global significance and international participation. IMTS is a grand stage for presenting the world’s best manufacturing technology. The games are a grand stage for presenting the world’s best athletes. I’m sorry that IMTS doesn’t get more attention from the rest of the country, yet I’m glad that it doesn’t attract the attention of protesters or lend itself easily to political agendas.

IMTS is about metalworking, not medal winning. Honor and glory to those who make excellence in metalworking their goal.

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