Assembly Events: A Trade Show on Your Desktop

Tech ManufactureXPO lets manufacturing professionals attend educational sessions and interact with suppliers via their computers.

Manufacturing professionals who haven’t attended a trade show or conference lately might be in for sticker shock the next time they dial a travel agent.

The average roundtrip airfare between major U.S. cities is now $311, excluding bag fees and other ancillary charges. That’s just $7 shy of the record set in the summer of 2008. The major U.S. airlines have hiked fares six times so far this year, already doubling the number of increases in 2010.

Of course, airfare is only part of the equation. The average daily expense for car rental, food and hotel is $622 for New York, $468 for Chicago, $455 for Seattle and $418 for Dallas, according to the latest figures compiled by Business Travel News. The total cost for a two-day conference in New York could easily exceed $2,000.

If it’s any consolation, attending shows or conferences is no less expensive for exhibitors. Although space rates vary depending on the industry and venue, the average tab for a trade show is $10,000. That figure increases dramatically if the exhibit includes large, heavy machines.

Not surprisingly, manufacturers have been cutting back on business travel. Some 54 percent of corporations are encouraging or mandating alternatives to travel, such as video conferencing and webcasts, according to a survey by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives.

Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Initiative, will be the keynote speaker at Tech ManufactureXPO. He will discuss his organization’s efforts to persuade U.S. manufacturers to bring work back from overseas. Photo courtesy GF Agie Charmilles

A Virtual Alternative

With cost-conscious manufacturing professionals and exhibitors in mind, ASSEMBLY is co-sponsoring a virtual trade show, Tech ManufactureXPO, on May 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Eastern time.

Tech ManufactureXPO is intended for information-hungry engineers faced with time and budget constraints. The virtual show will enable manufacturing engineers and managers to attend educational sessions and interact with suppliers via their computer screens. It’s the online equivalent of a traditional trade show, featuring webinars, podcasts and “virtual booths.”

Participants can browse exhibitor booths, chat with company representatives, and collect information, such as brochures, data sheets and white papers.

ASSEMBLY is co-hosting the event with four other manufacturing magazines published by BNP Media: Adhesives & Sealants Industry, CircuiTree, Quality and World Trade. Some 27 suppliers are exhibiting at the event, and more than 500 manufacturing professionals have already registered to attend.

The virtual event will kick off with a keynote speech by Harry Moser, founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative. Moser will discuss his organization’s efforts to persuade U.S. manufacturers to bring work back to this country from overseas. Sponsored by Automation Tool Co. and BalTec Corp., the keynote speech will air from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Eastern time. A live, 15-minute question-and-answer session will be held immediately after the presentation.

Live educational webcasts will be presented by Avdel USA, Bosch Rexroth Corp., Emhart Teknologies and FARO Technologies Inc. Each webcast will last 45 minutes. A 15-minute question-and-answer session will immediately follow each presentation.

At 10 a.m. Eastern time, Kurt Greissinger, industry manager for assembly products at Bosch Rexroth, will present “Automation: It’s not Just for High Volumes Anymore.”

In this presentation, Greissinger takes on some common myths about automation and lean. He will use a variety of examples from real-world applications to prove that automation makes a vital contribution to lean manufacturing. At a time when companies are tearing out conveyors in the name of lean, he will describe the roles automation can play across multiple applications.

At 11:15 a.m., Mike Gray, director of global business development for Avdel, will present “Future Fastening Innovations.” Gray will discuss the latest developments in fastening technology, including miniature fasteners and new finishes.

At 1:15 p.m., Michael Poth, director of global marketing at Emhart Teknologies, will present “Lowering the Total Installed Cost of Assemblies in Today’s Manufacturing Environment.” Emhart delivers engineered fasteners and systems that solve an array of complex fastening challenges. This webinar will show engineers how the Emhart family of companies uses varied techniques to lower the total installed costs of fasteners.

At 2:30 p.m., Julius Ndulue, an applications engineer at Faro Technologies Inc., will present “Reverse Engineering, Featuring Paul Jr. Designs.” This webinar will demonstrate how to use a portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM) to reverse engineer parts. The webinar features special guests Paul Teutul Jr. and Vinnie DiMartino of Paul Jr. Designs, a design firm and manufacturer of custom motorcycles. Teutul is the star of the popular reality show “American Choppers.” He and DiMartino will share their experiences using a CMM and how it has improved their reverse engineering processes.

In addition to the webcasts, Tech ManufactureXPO will also include 15-minute how-to podcasts from Automated Precision Inc., InterTech Development Co., Sealant Equipment & Engineering Inc., and Bosch Rexroth.

A “lunch-and-learn” session on trends in green manufacturing will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. Manufacturers are increasingly looking at their operations with an eye toward sustainability. In this interactive session, which will be led by the editors of the five sponsoring magazines, manufacturing professionals will learn about the latest ideas in environmentally friendly materials, landfill-free manufacturing, supply chain management and other topics.

Engineers can learn about the latest advances in dispensing technology at Sealant Equipment’s booth. Photo courtesy Sealant Equipment & Engineering Inc.

How It Works

To attend Tech ManufactureXPO, engineers will need a computer running Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OSX or Ubuntu. The web browser should be at least Internet Explorer 6.0, Firefox 2.0 or Safari 3.0, while the media player should be at least Flash 9.0.115, Windows Media Player 9.0 or Real Media Player 8.0.

After logging in, engineers will find themselves in the event lobby. There, engineers will find clearly marked entry points for various show locations, such as the exhibit hall and auditorium. A navigation bar running along the bottom of the screen provides quick access to all the locations.

The 3D exhibit hall has the look and feel of an aisle at a real trade show. Engineers can move to the left or right in the hall by moving the computer mouse. There is also a text-based exhibitor director for those wanting to get to a booth quickly. Hovering over a booth will display more information about the company. Clicking on it will take engineers into the booth.

Just as they would at a real show, exhibitors will use their booths to distribute company and product literature, do presentations, and conduct demonstrations. Booths will be staffed with representatives to answer your questions. You can also chat with other engineers visiting the booth. Some companies may ask you to complete a survey or take a poll, and some may offer giveaways.

Engineers should visit the auditorium to view the keynote address, webinars, Q&A sessions, and the lunch-and-learn session. Engineers can also save presentations for later viewing.

In the networking lounge, engineers can meet and chat with other manufacturing professionals attending the show. They can also swap virtual cards, exchange e-mails, and hold private chat sessions.

Aside from the exhibit hall, the resource center is the second-most visited area in a virtual event. Here, engineers can search for and download white papers, podcasts, webinars and other content.

As engineers browse the show, they can stash items of interest in convenient folders inside a personal briefcase. Folders are set up for documents, presentations, contacts and other information.

After logging in, engineers are encouraged to set up a profile to share information about themselves with other attendees. A “people finder” function lets engineers search for manufacturing professionals who might share similar interests.

For more information, visit

Engineers can download a podcast, a webinar and a variety of product literature at Bosch Rexroth’s booth. Photo courtesy Bosch Rexroth Corp.

Tech ManufactureXPO Exhibitors

At least 27 companies will be exhibiting at Tech ManufactureXPO. Visit for the latest additions.

ATI Industrial Automation-Robotic accessories and tooling, including automatic tool changers, collision sensors and compliance devices.

Automated Industrial Systems Inc.-Pad printers and high-speed installation equipment for O-rings, seals, backup rings and retaining rings.

Automated Precision Inc.-Advanced metrology equipment.

Automation Tool Co.-Custom automated assembly and test systems.

Avdel USA-Rivets, inserts, threaded fasteners and tools for installing them.

Balluff Inc.-Sensors (inductive, photoelectric, magnetic, capacitive, ultrasonic, and vision), linear transducers, RFID systems, and connectivity and networking products. Baltec Corp.-Radial and orbital riveting equipment and assembly presses.

Bosch Rexroth Corp.-Hydraulics, pneumatics, electric drives, motors and control systems, conveyors, and linear motion and assembly systems.

COX North America Inc.-Manual, pneumatic and battery-powered caulk guns and epoxy applicators.

CyberMetrics Corp.-Scalable, open-standards software for calibration and quality management, preventive maintenance, and supplier quality assurance.

Delta Regis Tools Inc.-Torque-controlled electric screwdrivers, tool controllers, screw feeders, torque testers, and torque reaction arms. Design Tool Inc.-Fully and semiautomatic equipment for feeding and installing screws, nails, pins and other fasteners.

Emhart Teknologies-Rivets, inserts, threaded fasteners and tools for installing them.

FARO Technologies Inc.-Computer-aided coordinate measurement machines and software.

Intelex Technologies Inc.-Software that captures, tracks and reports on essential corporate data.

InterTech Development Co.-Leak testing equipment, functional testing equipment, and automated assembly and test systems.

Item International America-Modular building kits, including aluminum framing, fasteners, linear guides, tubing and workbench systems.

Janome-Desktop robots, SCARA robots and servo presses.

Logistick-A variety of products for protecting and securing goods during transport in ships, planes, trains and trucks.

Mahr Federal Inc.-Dimensional metrology equipment, from handheld gauges to advanced measurement systems for form, contour, surface finish and length.

Origin Technologies Corp.-Laser-based dimensional measurement and surface countour inspection systems.

Promess Inc.-Highly adaptive monitoring and motion control systems to assemble and test products.

Schunk Inc.-Grippers, rotary actuators, linear slides, robotic accessories, and pick-and-place equipment.

Sealant Equipment and Engineering Inc.-Dispensing systems for bonding, sealing, potting, encapsulating, casting, gasketing and lubricating.

SINTECO Robotics-Robotic systems and custom automated assembly, handling, machining and testing systems for small- and medium-sized products.

Sprinter Marking Inc.-Automatic, ink-based equipment for applying spots and date, product or lot codes on a wide variety of surfaces.

Weiss North America Inc.-Rotary indexing tables, palletized conveyors, motor-driven pick-and-place units, cam- and servo-driven assembly chassis, indexing rings, machine bases and tool plates.

Yaskawa America Inc. Motoman Robotics Div.-Robots for assembly, dispensing, material handling, welding and other applications. Pre-engineered, application-specific workcells are also available.

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