U.S. manufacturing set for boom

Sept. 2, 2004
North American manufacturing production is set for a major upswing in the next 12 months, predicts John B. Byrd III, president of AMT -The Assn. for Manufacturing Technology, McLean, Va.

About 100,000 visitors from 40 countries are expected at IMTS 2004, held Sept. 8 to 15 in Chicago.

A combination of external forces will place domestic manufacturers in a position to bid competitively against overseas producers, he contends.

Byrd says that rising international shipping rates, continually improving North American productivity, changes in currency values, and the escalating demand for raw materials will result in a restructured international manufacturing landscape. While some experts predict more outsourcing of manufacturing, indisputable evidence points in the opposite direction, Byrd says. "The result will be a boom in the North American manufacturing sector unlike anything we have seen in the last quarter century."

Companies with the mindset of preparing for the business upturn will be in a better position for future opportunities, he emphasizes. "If there has ever been a year when companies should attend the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), this is it," Byrd says.

IMTS, the largest manufacturing trade show in the U.S., will be held Sept. 8 to 15 at McCormick Place in Chicago. It is expected to attract more than 1,200 exhibitors and about 100,000 visitors from over 40 countries.

The show will feature 10 industry-specific product pavilions. The largest is the metalcutting pavilion, with 152 exhibitors of machining centers, lathes, flexible-manufacturing systems, and other equipment.

The metalforming, fabricating, and laser pavilion includes presses, laser systems, water-jet machining systems, coil and strip-handling equipment, and heat-treating systems.

Other pavilions include abrasive machining, controls and CAD/CAM, EDM, fluid power, gear generation, machine components and environmental, quality assurance, and tooling and workholding.

An emerging-technology center will focus on the industry's future. The new exhibit area will showcase companies and organizations that are researching and developing the next generation of manufacturing technologies. AMT's partner in the project, GE Fanuc Automation, will have its entire exhibit in the center.

Participants include universities, business incubators, think tanks, and business-education partnerships. Exhibits will include nanotechnology applications for manufacturing, including finishing, cutting, and polishing, and ultralowpower wireless sensor networks. Other displays will feature robotics, software, vibration monitoring, laser-assisted machining, micromachining, and auto-matic-inspection systems.

The IMTS Manufacturing Conference will be held Sept. 8 to 10. Sessions focus on increasing productivity, strategies for reducing lead time, tools for assuring quality, and insights into recent technology developments.

A new conference track centers on technologies that may change manufacturing, including emerging technologies and trends in machining, smart machines, direct-digital manufacturing, and micromachining.

Other conference sessions focus on lean manufacturing, machining and tooling, and manufacturing strategies, with topics that include facing foreign competition, environmentally sound manufacturing, high-speed machining, reducing costs, and options for retrofitting.

For complete information on IMTS, visit www.imtsnet.org

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