The Know-How Show

IMTS is the International Manufacturing Technology Show, so the emphasis is rightly on technology. But what is technology? The casual answer is machinery and/or computersmills, lathes, grinders, CNCs, PCs, and all manners of industrial equipment.

Columns From: 8/1/1996 Modern Machine Shop, ,

IMTS is the International Manufacturing Technology Show, so the emphasis is rightly on technology. But what is technology? The casual answer is machinery and/or computersmills, lathes, grinders, CNCs, PCs, and all manners of industrial equipment. However, the dictionary defines technology as "the science of the application of knowledge to practical purposes." In short, technology is another word for know-how.

The nice thing about know-how as a synonym for technology is that it always implies that people are part of the picture. No one says that know-how is in a machine tool or in a computer. People have know-how. Without know-how, machines and computers don't mean much. When you buy a new machine or computer, the know-how doesn't automatically come with it.

Furthermore, if technology is know-how, you can't replace people with technology. (This is the great mistake a lot of companies make when they downsize. The know-how leaves with the people, so the machines and computers left behind don't get used very well anymore.) But if you have good people who can learn to use better tools, then old technology (yesterday's know-how) gives way to new technology (today's know-how) rather readily.

One of the most encouraging developments noted at recent editions of IMTS is the growing number of "buying teams" that attend the show. A buying team usually includes a mix of employees ranging from upper management and financial executives to design and manufacturing engineers and the shop floor workers who will install, run and maintain the equipment.

Each individual in an effective buying team has a different but complementary how that he or she must consider. How will this machine make my business grow? How will this machine affect cash flow? How will this machine get our products to market sooner? How will this machine eliminate or improve process steps? How will this machine change work flow and operator requirements? Good buying decisions should be, must be, the result.

And that is what IMTS is all about. It's not the latest and greatest machine tools, the fastest CNCs, the best inserts or end mills, the easiest-to-use software. It's people looking for new ways to do things. And finding them. It's about know-how.

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