Q&A: Peter Eelman

Vice President of Exhibitions & Communications AMT-The Association of Manufacturing Technology International Manufacturing Technology Show/IMTS

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Tell us about your own background with IMTS.

This marks my 30th year of involvement with IMTS, or my 15th show since it’s held every two years. When I graduated from college with a degree in marketing, the company I went to work for made planning for IMTS and running the booth one of my first assignments. So I started off as an exhibitor before joining AMT/IMTS, and I think that has provided me with a real understanding of the concerns exhibitors have and the challenges they sometimes face.

As for this year’s event, at a time when many trade shows have decreased in size by 25-35 percent, we’re only down about 12 percent, and people are still signing up every day. We really haven’t seen a tremendous exodus of exhibitors, just some companies downsizing their booths a bit, so I can tell you that those joining us at the McCormick Center in Chicago will see the same bustling, energetic IMTS they’ve come to expect from us.

What can attendees look forward to seeing this year?

The primary benefit involves the knowledge gained by visiting with exhibitors, and we see our job as rounding out that experience. That’s why we’ll be kicking off this year’s IMTS with “Industry Inspiration Day” in the South Building, with keynote speakers including Allan McArtor, chairman and CEO of Airbus; Jim Tetreault, who is vice president of North American Manufacturing at the Ford Motor Company; Denise Bode, the president and CEO of the American Wind Energy Association; and Rene van de Zande, president and CEO of the Emergo Group. In the lobby of the North Building we’ll have the Emerging Technology Center, which will feature cloud computing, additive manufacturing, nanotechnology and micro-manufacturing, and MTConnect.

The Advanced Manufacturing Center will be located in the West Building, where Gardner Publications and Boeing will have a Rolls-Royce Dreamliner jet engine on display, and GIE Media will be showing a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter right across the aisle. There will also be a Tesla high-performance electric roadster on view. There will be a Manufacturing Museum in the East Building, with machinery on display from different points in the history of industrial development, and a “social media encounter” at the end where you can videotape your thoughts about the experience.

Throughout the event we’ll be holding the IMTS 2010 Industry & Technology Conference, which will feature presentations in the areas of materials engineering, machining technology and trends, alternative manufacturing processes, metrology, and plant operations. Exhibitors will be grouped in nine pavilions including Gear Generation, Tooling & Workholding Systems, Metal Cutting, Quality Assurance, Control & CAD/CAM, and more.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen over the years?

Both market demands and technology have changed the very nature of trade shows. Remember that the first IMTS, which was held in 1927, was a science fair, and nothing was allowed to be sold. These days exhibitors can’t afford to devote space to products or technologies that aren’t for sale. So that’s why we’ve decided to take on the role of opening up the experience with things like the Emerging Technology Center, and by providing other educational opportunities as well. And we’ll be broadcasting beyond McCormick Center by way of IMTS-TV, which will present four reports a day that are available on our Web site, all of which will be archived, along with various “up to the minute” blogs, one of which I’ll be writing myself.

So we’re doing everything we can to make IMTS an inspiration point where you can network with industry peers from around the world, attend seminars on the latest trends and technologies, and take stock of where you stand in terms of your position in today’s marketplace. Those who attend IMTS 2010 will leave more savvy, educated, and aware of where they’re headed, and how they’re going to get there.  

MORE INFORMATION: Visit online at [www.imts.com] or [www.amtonline.org].