McCormick Place will be the first stop on a nation-wide tour of the Siemens Excider Technology Train. The 1,000-ft. train, specially outfitted with an array of high technology, kicks off the final leg of its world tour during National Manufacturing Week.
The train has attracted nearly 100,000 visitors in 15 countries in Europe and Asia. This traveling exhibition on rails will visit 10 U.S. cities, giving current and potential customers a first-hand look at the most advanced industrial automation technology in the world.
"The Exider train brings Siemens technology directly to local manufacturers across the country to show them what automation can do in their facilities," says Thomas Kopanski, vice president, Automation and Motion Division, Siemens Energy & Automation.
As the U.S. economy continues to pick up steam, Siemens says it is rolling out this 21st century whistle stop tour to demonstrate how automation technology can help U.S. manufacturers stay on track and remain competitive. With economic indicators pointing to a more positive outlook for U.S. manufacturing in 2004, automation may hold the key to a healthy future for U.S. manufacturers.
"The U.S. dollar has finally declined in price versus some key foreign currencies, and this combined with an acceleration in economic growth at home and abroad will boost demand for U.S. manufactures," says economist and Finance Professor Jeffrey A. Rosensweig, associate dean at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. "The past few years were brutal for manufacturing, and one result is that the factories at risk of being closed in large part have already been shuttered. That means that U.S. factories still here have a strategy for staying here, and the survivors usually implement strategies that lean heavily on sophisticated automation technology to improve productivity.
"For Siemens, this tour signals our commitment to the U.S. market and our confidence in the U.S. economy," Kopanski says. "While some multinationals hint about exiting the U.S. market, we believe in U.S. manufacturing and are committed to this market for the long run." The U.S. is Siemens' second largest market, with annual sales of $16.6 billion in fiscal 2003 and approximately 65,000 employees in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
The Exider is the first train to circumnavigate the globe, having traveled thousands of miles across Europe and China before crossing the Pacific Ocean by ship and weathering a typhoon off the coast of Asia on its way to America. But in Chicago, the train will actually come off its wheels. The exhibit cars will be assembled inside McCormick Place to kick off National Manufacturing Week on February 23.
From Chicago, the train will travel by rail to Atlanta, Washington DC, New York, Boston, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. The Exider will visit Mexico between stops in Houston and Los Angeles and will head north from Seattle for a tour of Canada.
Instead of passengers, the 14-car train carries 224 plasma screens and monitors, 189 DVD players, four servers, nine miles of electrical cables, and almost two miles of data lines, all designed to take visitors on a trip through modern industrial automation.
In the Siemens train, visitors will be able to walk through an area with plasma screens showing various process-automation technologies.
Individual cars showcase such themes as process and discrete manufacturing, machine tool components, commercial and residential power distribution, and engineering services. In the process automation car, visitors pass through a tube with process planning steps demonstrated in animated video installations. Visitors can also oversee the entire production process in realistic detail inside a simulated control room.
Education is an important part of the Exider's mission. The train is staffed with experts to explain the technology and all its potential applications and benefits. At each stop, Siemens will conduct technology seminars and training sessions, explaining how Siemens technology can add value and raise productivity through speed of equipment, cost savings, and maintenance diagnostics.
Among exhibits on the Siemens Excider will be a display of the various instruments used in a typical automation process.