Blog / #industry

Reflecting on a Year of Trade Shows

Our Top 3 Trends of 2018

Etienne Lacroix CEO & Founder / Nov 27th, 2018

Knowledge bar

Fifteen: that’s how many national, regional and private trade shows we participated in, as exhibitor or sponsor, in 2018. In the course of these events, we also held 6 knowledge bars, completed 4 industry public-speaking engagements, and connected with thousands of current and potential customers. Here’s what we learned.

Automate Anything

Whether they’re considering robots, cobots, or traditional automation components, shop owners are exploring ways to automate their manufacturing processes. Folks that have been operating manually for the past several years seem to have realized automation is inevitable.

Most want to automate one small task to start, so they can build on that first win. Machine tending, glue deposition, visual inspection—the customers we spoke with want to walk before they run. These shop owners have been solving production problems themselves for years, so it makes sense that they would take a similarly DIY approach to automation. They told us they’ll do their first automation project in-house, without help from outside consultants.
Industrial automation companies and service providers must adapt to support this class of end users. This means developing more online resources and remote support capabilities, all geared toward the first-time user.

Speed is King

Shop owners are moving quickly—just like their clients. They want to partner with suppliers that operate at the same pace. No one wants to hear about weeks of lead time anymore. Even if they don’t always require next-day shipping, customers expect it to be an option.
What’s behind the need for speed? Rapid changes in customer taste lead to short product lifecycles. Short product lifecycles lead to methodologies like agile manufacturing. Agile manufacturing means less time to choose and deploy manufacturing equipment on the shop floor. In short, manufacturing floors are no longer designed for products with a 15-year shelf life; manufacturing equipment shouldn't be either.

Once again, manufacturing equipment and component suppliers must adapt. Optimizing for speed often involves digitizing the entire supply chain.

Software Proliferation

In the early 2000s, you could operate a machine shop with just a few pieces of software: a 3D CAD, a CAM, and a job shop ERP. Today, competitive shops also need software for CNC monitoring, part quotation, and metrology, just to name a few.
In fact, every new piece of industrial equipment comes with its own software. This proliferation of software promises to enhance productivity. But it will also add complexity, which could cause trouble when transmitting data from one environment to the next. To unlock this potential, Shop owners will have to complement their existing teams with IT and software professionals

Want to learn more about the future of machine design?

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