It’s Worth the Trip

Take advantage of the tools available to help you prepare for your IMTS visit.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
— Henry Miller

Some travel experiences are better than others. Whether we’re talking about a vacation or a business trip, it’s common to reflect back and consider the time “lost” and the effort and inconvenience to which we subjected ourselves, weighing these potential negatives against the benefits we’ve gained by being away. We might ask ourselves, “Was it worth the trip?”

Time doesn’t stand still while we’re gone. For busy professionals, a trip away usually involves some preparation time, working ahead on projects, as well as plenty of catch-up work after our return. Our personal lives move forward while we’re away as well, so a lot needs to be considered before electing to leave.

Stepping away from our routine, whether for a day or a week, to attend a tradeshow might not be a no-brainer. I’ve heard pretty much every argument both for and against it. Some people feel that these events require too much time to accomplish a task of reviewing a single area of technology, but it’s important to realize the other opportunities that are also presented.

With IMTS right around the corner, many people in the industry are in preparation mode. The show is huge and provides so much to see. It’s likely that every reader of Production Machining could find something there to make his or her job easier or more productive. But not a lot of people are there to see all of it. That’s good and bad. While it would be nice to take advantage of everything that is offered, even a systematic attack of every foot of every aisle would likely take more time than the six-day show allows. Attendees are more likely there to see specific products or product categories. As such, it’s important to set goals ahead of time for what to accomplish.

I’m planning to go. Are you? I’m not just talking about making sure I’m there. I mean I’m making a plan to go—to get the most from the show in the short time that I have available there. That involves quite a bit of thinking ahead. Sure, much of the beauty of tradeshows is to give people the opportunity to see things they aren’t even aware of that could help them improve their processes. And certainly allowing some time to wander and observe unexpected things could be quite useful. But that time should be scheduled around the time allotted for addressing the real purpose of the visit.

The first step in preparation for the show should be to take advantage of the tools that are available. For starters, this month’s issue of PM provides a quick overview of some of the products on display that are specifically geared to our segment of the manufacturing industry. Flip to page 46 for the introduction of this section, where you’ll find some general facts about the show and what it offers. Then continue on to see descriptions of products on display. For a more in-depth look at what all of the exhibitors are showing, visit IMTS.com, which provides a product gallery that can be searched by keyword or sorted by other methods, including exhibitor name and product name.

While on the website, it’s also a good idea to take advantage of the MyShow planner. This tool provides an in-depth map of the booths on the show floor and allows the user to assemble a detailed list of exhibitors to visit, highlight those exhibitors on the floorplan, book meeting times with exhibitors and add events directly to a calendar.

Too often, show attendees focus only on the booth exhibits, which present fantastic opportunities to see products firsthand. They sometimes forget about the other educational opportunities that are also offered. Conferences and other events that run alongside tradeshows are often equally useful. IMTS has much to offer in this area.

Nine different conferences take place during the week of IMTS to address many aspects of manufacturing, including additive manufacturing, innovations in the aerospace sector, and continuous improvement in automation, quality and process innovations.

IMTS clearly has something for everyone. Planning ahead, though, is important in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the show’s enormity. It’s time well spent. With good planning, you can make the most of your attendance at the show, and there’s no doubt it will be worth the trip.