Making the Right Connections at IMTS 2010

IMTS is a big event, to say the least, and making the most of the show requires proper planning. This article is here to help.


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Advances in communication technology have come a long way in breaking down traditional barriers of distance, time and culture. In an era of global supply chains, interconnected economies and an unprecedented exchange of ideas, these developments affect every industry and every aspect of our lives.

That includes IMTS—The International Manufacturing Technology Show, which takes place in Chicago this September. Consider the picture on the cover of this magazine. It depicts a Smartphone equipped with My Show Mobile, a utility that puts a personalized itinerary, a complete floor plan and a variety of other features at users’ fingertips. There’s more on that below. The point here is that making connections—connections to people, connections to technology and connections to ideas—is part of what IMTS is all about. My Show Mobile is just one example of how this has become easier.

We hope this special pre-IMTS issue of "Modern Machine Shop" will be another useful tool for planning your trip and getting around the show.

The bulk of the issue is devoted to covering the various products on display at the show, organized by category. Flip through and take note of anything that might interest you. This article will highlight some basic information about IMTS, resources for planning your trip and a few tidbits about special locations and events.

The Essentials

In the wake of what has been dubbed "The Great Recession," many manufacturers have tightened their purse strings, whether through necessity or prudence. However, one might argue that it’s even more important to stay connected with the latest technology and industry developments during tough economic times. For that, there are few better vehicles than trade shows, and no manufacturing trade show in this country is as comprehensive as IMTS. In fact, with approximately 92,000 attendees hailing from more than 116 countries, 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space, and more than 1,100 exhibitors, IMTS is one of the largest trade shows in North America.

The 28th edition of the show is scheduled for September 13-18 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Sponsored by AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the show will occupy the entire complex, comprising the North, East, South and West halls. The East and West halls will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the North and South halls will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

First things first—to attend the show, you’ve got to register. If you haven’t yet, you’d better hurry to get a discounted rate of $25 per person (exhibits only), which increases to $50 August 14. A special group rate of $15 is also available for those travelling with 5 or more people. The easiest way to register is via imts.com, which is a great resource in and of itself for planning your trip.

Once at the show, you’ll find that exhibits are organized into pavilions according to specific industries and technologies. This makes navigating the show easier and enables attendees to compare similar, competing technologies side-by-side.

Break Out the Smartphones

My Show, the interactive, Web-based floor plan developed by Map Your Show (a business unit of Gardner Publications, publisher of this magazine), is likely familiar to many past IMTS attendees. Now, however, those with Smartphones no longer need to print their agendas, stop at kiosks or find a place to plug in their laptops. My Show Mobile makes the entire floor plan and most associated features available from any compatible, Web-enabled mobile device.

Those features include more than just a map designating which exhibitors are where. Rather, the free utility is designed to help users generate a personalized itinerary that automatically highlights selected booths and keeps them up-to-date on appointments and events. To save time, attendees find and add companies to their agendas based on criteria they define. Searches can be conducted by company name, product type, pavilion or other categories

Of course, traditional means of accessing My Show are still viable, particularly via kiosks conveniently located throughout the show floor. However you choose to access it, the utility provides a convenient way to organize and plan your trip. To create your own personal itinerary, visit imts.com and click the "My Show Planner" link. To access My Show Mobile, visit imts10.mobile.mapyourshow.com.

Other Planning Resources

Imts.com offers a great deal more than registration and the My Show utility. There, you can find exhibitor lists, pavilion and booth locations, hotel reservation information, facts about the show, success stories, industry news and a host of other resources. While perusing the site, be sure to sign up for the IMTS Insider e-mail newsletter, which provides regular updates about the show.

Another useful tool is the Directory of Exhibits (DOE), published for AMT by Gardner Publications. Available for free at various places throughout the show, the directory incorporates much of the information on imts.com—exhibitor lists, floor plans for each hall, a product directory and more—in a convenient, digest-sized format that’s easy to carry around as a reference.

Don’t forget to pick up the ShowDaily, the official IMTS newspaper generated by the editors of this magazine and its sister publications. Three issues of the ShowDaily will be distributed during IMTS, and you might also find a copy at your hotel or on the shuttle bus to McCormick Place.

Finally, we realize that you’re not likely to spend 100 percent of your time in the Windy City immersing yourself in manufacturing technology. The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau’s IMTS 2010 Chicago Web site, located at choosechicago.com/imts, provides all the information you need about the city’s restaurants, shopping, nightlife, museums, weather and more. The site also details special offers available for IMTS attendees.

Show Highlights

Emerging Technology Center—Presented by IMTS in partnership with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) made its debut at the 2004 show as a venue to highlight the future of manufacturing technology. This year’s topics are additive manufacturing, cloud computing, MTConnect, nanotechnology and micro manufacturing, all of which will be covered through a 3D video and live demonstrations.

Industry and Technology ConferenceScheduled for 12 to 3 p.m. on the show’s opening day, September 13, the inaugural "Industry Inspiration Day" luncheon will kick off a new conference program featuring a range of industry-specific sessions. The IMTS Industry & Technology Conference is designed to provide a forum for discussing business opportunities, networking with industry peers and exploring innovative ways to overcome challenges.The opening luncheon will feature presentations from speakers hailing from key industries.

The Industry and Technology Conference begins the next day, September 14, and concludes September 17. Presentations will focus on five topics: materials engineering; machining technology and trends; alternative manufacturing processes; metrology; and plant operations. Attendees can register for the luncheon and a single day of the conference for $295; registration for the full conference costs $495.

NIMS Student SummitSponsored by AMT and the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), the Student Summit is intended to encourage young people to pursue careers in manufacturing. Along with the career development center, which features interactive displays and professionals available for questions, the return of student-friendly exhibitors to this year’s show will provide opportunities for young people to see technology in action.

Manufacturing Museum—It’s worth remembering that the technology displayed at IMTS (even supposedly "new" innovations) builds on what came before it. Visiting the new "manufacturing museum" exhibit, which features artifacts from manufacturing’s past on loan from the American Precision Museum, can help attendees put the developments they see on the show floor into historical context.

IMTSTV—IMTSTV provides another way of staying up-to-date on events and other goings-on at the show. Emilie Barta’s daily broadcasts from the on-site IMTSTV studio reach plasma screens throughout the halls of McCormick Place as well as hotel TVs and on imts.com.

A Final Note

I learned a valuable lesson during my first IMTS experience in 2006: dress comfortably. Take special care to wear comfortable shoes—you’ve got a lot of ground to cover, and blisters don’t help. Take it from me, failure to do so can result in utter misery!