Nearly 19,000 visitors attended the 2004 National Manufacturing Week (February 23-26) to see the wares from more than 1,000 exhibitors. The number of visitors was within 400 of last year—a strong performance in an era where most industry trade shows have fallen dramatically, says John Stuttard, NMW's industry vice president. Signs of jobs—if not the jobs themselves—were surely in the air. Among the many showcased products, gadgets, insights, and solutions, attendees also saw encouraging reports about the economy. Co-organizers Reed Exhibitions and National Association of Manufacturers (http://rbi.ims.ca/3847-517) presented hope to those longing to see a manufacturing rebound in the U.S.:
Bullish outlook for manufacturing
For 2004, the NAM forecast that manufacturing growth would outpace the gross domestic product increase, adding that NAM members expect more hiring and fewer layoffs, according to its annual survey. By a 5:1 ratio, NAM said, companies plan to hire more employees, with the bulk of those jobs coming from higher-paid fields, such as skilled production and professional positions.
Outsourcing to America
As part of the "Play Your Part" rally by the NAM, speakers were invited to share their thoughts on how manufacturers can help keep jobs in America. "There are places in the U.S. where people are willing to work for $7, $10 an hour," said Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL), urging U.S. companies—large or small—to "outsource to America." Manzullo, also the Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, added that American CEOs are trapped in a culture where they believe outsourcing could cut costs, hence bolster their companies' stock prices.
Showing the money
Besides choosing the right technology, manufacturers need also an understanding of finances and a ready supply of cash to survive a soft economy. Making that cash available was the point of the Capital Market Pavilion, where 14 equity funds, including Bank of America, the nation's largest financial company, offered financial advice to help companies get the money they need for sustainable growth.
Among the technology exhibits:
Siemens Technology Train
The 2004 National Manufacturing Week was also the first stop on a 10-city U.S. tour of the 1,000-ft Siemens Exider Technology Train. Individual cars showcased such themes as process and discrete manufacturing, machine tool components, commercial and residential power distribution, and engineering services. Education is an important part of the Exider's mission, the company said, and the train was manned with knowledgeable staff to explain the technology, potential applications, and benefits.
New sensor technologies
Sensors bring real-world data to computer systems, which need many types of input. Mikron Infrared (http://rbi.ims.ca/3847-518), one of the vendors in the Sensors Pavilion, demonstrated sensors that can remotely sense temperature even from shiny metals. Another company, Interface Inc. (http://rbi.ims.ca/3847-519), showcased its High Capacity Series Load cells that feature load capacity of up 1,000 kilos. Also on display were improved switches.
To read more about the 2004 National Manufacturing Week