Lindsey Snyder, Assistant Editor
It’s that even-numbered-year time-of-the-year again. The International Manufacturing Technology Show, IMTS 2008, is right around the corner. This 27th installment of the biennial trade show is focusing on connecting global technology, and visitors can expect to see exhibits from 1,500 companies spanning 1.2 million net square feet of space at Chicago’s McCormick Center. Over 90,000 buyers and sellers typically come from 119 countries to look at more than 15,000 machine tools, controls, computers, software, components, systems and processes.
IMTS planners have been busy at work filling the schedule and extending the show’s features. This year’s conference, the Manufacturing Business and Technology Forum, has expanded. The forum sessions provide current technical information surveying the latest technologies that impact how companies manufacture and enhance the effectiveness of workforce efficiency and productivity. Forum sessions are designed to supplement what is seen on the trade show floor and are conducted by several industry partners: Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), Center for Automotive Research (CAR), American Society for Precision Engineering (ASPE), National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA), ToolingU and the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT).
“By expanding the number of partners participating in our educational efforts, we can offer broad and relevant content to our IMTS attendees,” says Peter Eelman, IMTS vice president–exhibitions. “More than ever before, we are designing this education experience for the end user.”
One special session will be showcasing MTConnect, a new com-munication technology that provides an open standard for passing information between devices, equipment, systems and higher level applications. MTConnect combines manufacturing technology and computer science to access data on a regular basis. The goal is to create “a seamless ‘manufacturing pipeline’ from design to production,” according to mtconnect.org. MTConnect will be open and free of royalties. The session will provide an overview of MTConnect with detailed presentations demonstrating how to develop an adapter for retrieving data from a device or piece of equipment. IMTS 2008 will be the first public demonstration of the standard’s use. The forum session is free and sponsored by the AMT on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 11:30, Thursday from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
“MTConnect may be the most exciting development in our industry since the introduction of NC almost 40 years ago,” Eelman says. “We are mirroring the success occurring in the information technology world. That is, allowing devices, equipment and sy-stems to output data in an understandable format that can be read by any other device using the same standard format to read the data. MTConnect will enable everyone in the production supply chain to be part of making the manufacturing enterprise more productive.”
MTConnect will also be featured in several ways at the Emerging Technolo-gy Center (B-1000). At this location, people who are not familiar with the standard can watch a video presentation, learn about where it currently stands and watch live demonstrations where about 20 exhibitors, including Gleason, will connect from their booths on the show floor, and an illustrative computer dashboard will show MTConnect in action.
An international student competition will take place where contestants are challenged to use MTConnect to develop inventive theories. This competition concludes in October 2009 at EMO Milano in Italy. The Emerging Technology Center will also showcase recent research from universities and research labs including the Penn State Machine Dynamics Research Lab, University of New Hampshire, University of Kentucky, the Machine Tool Research Center at the University of Florida, the American Society for Precision Engineering, the Industrial Diamond Association and many others.
A new feature of IMTS this year is the Innovation Center, which will feature theater-style presentations each day between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Located in the Lakeside Center (East Building), the Innovation Center aims to bring specific themes to life by industry experts. The theme will differ from day-to-day as follows: Monday’s theme is automotive, sponsored by Ward’s Automotive Group; Tuesday is quality, sponsored by Quality magazine; Wednesday is aerospace/aeronautics, sponsored by Aerospace Manufacturing and Design magazine; Thursday is power generation/green day, sponsored by Today’s Energy Solutions; Friday’s theme is medical, sponsored by Today’s Medical Developments magazine; and Saturday is job shop day, sponsored by American Machinist magazine.
“As we continually assess the desires of our exhibitors, it is clear that to increase the attendance at IMTS, we must market to specific industries,” Eelman says. “For the future we will be offering more and more industry-specific information and programs to make the IMTS experience highly meaningful for our attendees.”
For the second time, IMTS will present a battle of the robots at two locations. Robots will show off their skills on office equipment and kitchen appliances at the Lakeside Center in the East Building. Bots battle each other at the “You Drive Them” station in the North Building, and there will be a live bot-on-bot competition using robots built by manufacturing companies from the Midwest. Battles will take place daily.
Students from middle school through vocational college levels are invited to be special guests at IMTS as part of the Student Summit, sponsored by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) and the AMT. Educators and their students can attend the Career Development Center (CDC) and a self-guided tour of the exhibition for free. The NIMS Student Summit gives students the opportunity to approach student-friendly exhibitors—such as Haas Automation, Agie Charmilles, L.S. Starrett, ToolingU and Mastercam—and inquire about career opportunities and other questions pertaining to the precision manufacturing industry.
“By offering the opportunity for students and educators to experience IMTS and interact with exhibitors, as well as take advantage of the outstanding program NIMS has planned for our student attendees, we hope that students will see first-hand the outstanding, well-paying career opportunities precision manufacturing has to offer,” Eelman says.
At the CDC, students will hear young professionals speak about their experiences in the industry, and they will see exhibits from colleges and universities, companies, human resource representatives and industry associations. Door prizes will be awarded, and CDs containing industry-related career information will be distributed. New to this year’s show, graduating high school and college students are invited to drop-off their resumes for participating companies to review for entry-level job openings. More than 6,600 students and educators participated in the 2004 NIMS Student Summit at IMTS.
Download the IMTS Product Preview for specific information on gear-industry exhibitors' booths and additional show information.