PM Blog

IMTS 2020 Has Been Cancelled

AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology announced that it is cancelling the 2020 edition of the biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) that was scheduled for September 14-19 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. According to AMT, which owns and produces IMTS, its board of directors and staff had been closely monitoring the impact COVID-19 has had on its members, show exhibitors and visitors, and the industry. It says IMTS is being canceled because of health and safety requirements imposed by the state of Illinois for holding conventions, which include the availability of a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus or a highly effective treatment protocol. This is the first time the show has been canceled since World War II.

“The show has been held uninterrupted for more than 80 years, but now the global coronavirus health crisis requires the cancellation of what would have been the 34th edition of IMTS for the health and safety of our exhibitors, audiences and local business community,” says Peter R. Eelman, AMT vice president and chief exhibitions officer. “Our organization and its members take immense pride in presenting one of the world’s largest manufacturing technology events, one that dates back to 1927. The cancellation is especially poignant because the show was poised to offer an unmatched breadth and depth of resources to help industry rethink, reestablish and reengage with supply chains disrupted by COVID-19.”

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Production Machinists Report Slowing Decline in Business Conditions

The Gardner Business Index (GBI): Production Machining moved higher in May, registering 38.4 after setting an all-time low in April. For the first time since the government curtailed normal business operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all components of the Index moved toward more ‘normal’ levels. Excluding supplier deliveries, all components moved higher from their prior month readings — although each remained below a reading of 50. This situation signals that the industry is experiencing a slowing contraction, meaning that while conditions deteriorated further in the most recent month, they did so at a slowing rate compared to the prior month.

The supplier delivery reading fell slightly in May which may indicate a turning point in the unprecedented disruption that affected upstream production and slowed deliveries earlier in the year. By the nature of how this question is asked, quickening supplier deliveries lower the Index’s reading.  However, the resumption of upstream production and deliveries appears to be coming with an additional cost as May’s results showed a growing proportion of survey participants reporting higher material prices while also reporting weakening pricing power for their own products. The result of this widening spread across the ‘50’ or ‘no-change’ line suggests that profit margins are being compressed.

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The manufacturing skills gap remains wide. According to the 2018 Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute skills gap and future of work study, 51% of executives cited “maintaining or increasing production levels to satisfy growing customer demand” as the biggest challenge resulting from the inability to fill open jobs. The study also predicted an increase in total unfilled jobs between 2018 and 2028 from 2 to 2.4 million, meaning expectations point to the situation getting worse before it gets better.

A shifting skill set toward more advanced technology and automation is one cause manufacturers are blaming on the lack of talent within the industry. This is followed by a negative perception of students and their parents toward manufacturing and baby boomer retirements.

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Effective Leadership Emerges During Trying Times

When I started writing about manufacturing 23 years ago, I was largely focused on learning the technology. The public relations agency I was with covered a range of processes — machining included — that I needed to research to then be able to competently write about them. I did benefit by having a mechanical engineering degree, which helped me ramp up perhaps quicker on those concepts than I otherwise would have been able. 

This continued through my many years with our sister publication Modern Machine Shop. But, while I cannot claim to be an expert on any one manufacturing topic, I certainly have absorbed a good bit of knowledge in a number of technical areas. Some of this is a result of discussions with CNC machine shop owners and managers at their facilities, industry events and trade association meetings.

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IMTS Creates Resource for Rebuilding Industry Supply Chain

For the manufacturing industry, coming back from the COVID-19 pandemic means rebuilding supply chains and rethinking parts sourcing and production. To support these efforts, the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) has launched imts.com/supplychain, an educational section of imts.com.

Content includes stories, videos, webinars and podcasts that provide the manufacturing industrial base (including OEMs and job shops) with guidance on how to rethink, reengage and reestablish its supply chain. Included are stories of how industry has responded and thought-provoking resources on the steps industry and government can take to ensure manufacturing self-sufficiency.

“The manufacturing technology community has a laser-like focus on rebuilding its supply chains, and we are dedicating significant resources to support their needs,” says Peter R. Eelman, vice president and CXO at AMT -The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and produces IMTS.

“The imts.com/supplychain microsite — ReBuilding the Supply Chain — shows OEMs how to rethink their current operations, how they can reengage with suppliers and secure trading partners, and how they can reestablish connections for a more localized industrial base,” Eelman says.

The imts.com/supplychain site links to all IMTS COVID-19 and rebuilding stories. It includes a brief history of why the supply chain disruption occurred, and IMTS has mapped out future content to show steps that can be taken to secure the supply chain moving forward.

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