The Manufacturers Capital team had the opportunity to attend the recent FABTECH show in Chicago, and it was quite an experience. The event showcases fabricating and metalworking technology, provides a full agenda of educational sessions, and attracts visitors from all over the world.
I spent two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, walking the show floor (for a total of 31,794 steps) and talking with attendees and exhibitors, to get their thoughts about the technology, the state of the fabricating industry, and the show in general. Below is what I learned.
technology on display
Automation was everywhere – robots, co-bots, gantry systems, automatic loading systems, and more. It was nearly impossible to walk down any aisle without seeing some type of automation. One exhibitor noted that as fabricating shops continue to battle labor shortages, automation is becoming more top-of-mind for owners and production managers, and while automation has been around for a while now, more companies are expressly looking to automation to deal with labor challenges.
I was told by one member of the trade press that there were over 500 new products launched at the show! This demonstrates exhibitors’ continued investment in research and development, indicating a generally positive viewpoint. One focus for technology innovation seemed to be sustainability. There were a few new all-electric machines introduced at the show – Machitech Electric Press Brake, UTE All Electric Bender and Workcell, CoastOne Servo-Electric Press Brake – designed to reduce power consumption and hydraulic oil use.
The state of the fabricating industry
The general attitude expressed by both attendees and exhibitors was one of cautious optimism. One exhibitor I spoke with felt that there was less talk about the “R word” (recession) than she had expected, and that while sentiments did vary, there were very few expressions of extreme swings whether good or bad. Another exhibitor felt that while the industry had been experiencing a general softening, his company felt business and attitude are on the upswing.
Even by the end of my second day at the show (actual third day of the show) I noticed a lot of “SOLD” signs on machines – a good indication that people had indeed come to the show to buy.
It was mentioned that the looming (as of Sept. 13) UAW (United Auto Workers) strike was a concern, but that wasn’t keeping companies from considering equipment purchases. Now that the strike has actually occurred, only time will tell what impact that might have.
general thoughts about the fabtech show
Overall, the show was well attended and the attendees were enthusiastic about what was being displayed. Traffic was steady throughout the two days I was there, even towards the back of the show halls. Many of the exhibitors felt like the traffic they did have in their booths was providing quality leads and even if leads didn’t result in immediate sales, there were very good opportunities for future sales.
There were 197 education sessions over the course of the 4-day shows, and from what I heard, the conference sessions were well attended.
Next year’s show will be held October 15-17, 2004, in Orlando, and the Manufacturers Capital team will be there!
- # of exhibitors – 1500+
- Exhibit space – 800,000+ square feet
- Estimated attendance – 43,000+
- # of educational sessions – 197
- New Products Launched at Show – 500+
- The first FABTECH show was held in 1981
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Check out our recap of the event below!