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A Trade Show on Your Desktop

April 2, 2012
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Let’s be honest: Business travel is no longer the perk it once was. Never mind the expense of airfare, hotel, meals and ground transportation, or all the work that piles up while you’re gone, it’s the little things that kill.

According to a survey conducted last fall by ON24 Inc., a webcasting and virtual events firm, 92 percent of executives think business travel has not improved, and almost half say it’s become worse.

The 3,756 respondents cited myriad reasons for their growing dislike of business travel, but flying was a major source of complaints. The worst aspect of flying was getting stuck in a middle seat (53 percent), followed by delays (51 percent), security lines (41 percent) and rude airline employees (26 percent). Executives also noted the possibility of sitting next to a “nightmare passenger” as a concern, with 74 percent of respondents saying they did not want to sit next to a sick person, an annoying child (43 percent), an armrest hog (43 percent), or a snorer (35 percent).

When asked which cities they would avoid for a convention or trade show if a substitute virtual event were available, Houston topped the list. Almost half (49 percent) would avoid traveling to the largest city in Texas if they could attend a virtual show instead. Some 42 percent had the same feeling for Los Angeles, 37 percent would avoid Orlando, and 33 percent would rather not go to Miami.

How much better would it be if you could visit with suppliers of the latest manufacturing technology without getting frisked by airport security, paying through the nose for a musty hotel room, or indeed without even leaving your desk? Well, we have just the ticket: our second annual Tech ManufactureXPO.

A Virtual Alternative

Tech ManufactureXPO is a virtual trade show that will be held May 2, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. ASSEMBLY is co-sponsoring the event with four other manufacturing magazines published by BNP Media: Adhesives & Sealants Industry, Appliance Design, Quality andWorld Trade 100.

Tech ManufactureXPO will enable manufacturing professionals 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, view product demonstrations, chat with company representatives, and collect information, such as brochures, data sheets and white papers.

Some 23 suppliers are exhibiting at the event, including Bosch Rexroth Corp., DENSO Robotics, Promess Inc., Schunk Inc. and Weiss North America Inc. In addition, more than 450 manufacturing professionals have already registered to attend, representing such major manufacturers as 3M, Baxter International, Boeing, BorgWarner, Caterpillar, Emerson Electric, Flextronics, General Dynamics, Honeywell, IBM, Siemens, Toro and Whirlpool.

The first Tech ManufactureXPO exceeded expectations for both attendees and exhibitors. Some 1,372 manufacturing professionals registered for the show, and half attended the event live. On average, viewers spent 123 minutes at the show, and a total of 1,671 files—catalogs, podcasts and other materials—was downloaded from the show site.

Online Education

The event will kick off with a keynote speech by Jack McDougle, senior vice president for manufacturing at the nonprofit Council on Competitiveness. Last December, the council published Make: An American Manufacturing Movement, an 88-page report that provides dozens of recommendations for addressing the key challenges facing U.S. manufacturers. McDougle will discuss the report’s findings 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 also be presented by Bosch Rexroth Corp., Elite Engineering Inc. and FARO Technologies Inc. Each webcast will last one hour, including 15 minutes for audience questions.

At 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, Richard E. Vaughn Sr., automation engineer at Bosch Rexroth, will present “Easy Handling of Mechatronics and Robotic Solutions.” Vaughn will show engineers how to design and build custom Cartesian and gantry motion systems from standard automation components.

At 12:45 p.m., Dan McKiernan, president of Elite Engineering, will present “The Next Generation of Smart, Flexible and Lean Assembly.” McKiernan will discuss his company’s eFlex Assembly software, a Microsoft .NET-based process configuration tool that tightly synchronizes activity between a factory’s enterprise resource planning system and plant-floor automation. Using data directly from the assembly process, the software quickly, accurately and repeatably rebalances PLC-controlled assembly lines. McKiernan will show how a major auto manufacturer attained world-class quality and flexibility using the software.

At 2 p.m., Brock LaHart, applications engineer at FARO, will present “Can’t Touch This: Inspecting to CAD Using Noncontact Technology.” Many manufactured parts can benefit from CAD-based inspection. But what if you can’t physically touch the part you need to inspect? What if it has complex or free-form shapes? That’s where noncontact technology comes in. This webinar will explore noncontact inspection technology and how it can be used to obtain precise data on these types of parts. The webinar will include a live demonstration of CAD-to-part alignment.

In addition to the webcasts, Tech ManufactureXPO will also include a 15-minute how-to podcast from InterTech Development Co. InterTech president Jacques Hoffman will discuss testing trends in the automotive and medical device industries. He’ll also review advances in test instrumentation software, such as data logging and Labview compatibility.

Finally, a “lunch-and-learn” session on preparing for supply chain disruptions will be held from noon to 12:30 p.m. According to the World Bank, two of the four most costly natural disasters in history occurred last year: the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March and the massive floods that inundated Thailand from July to December. Beyond their staggering toll in human life and property loss, these disasters also revealed the fragility of the international manufacturing supply chain. In this interactive session, manufacturing professionals can chat live with the editors of the sponsoring magazines about best practices in supply chain management.

How It Works

To attend Tech ManufactureXPO, engineers will need a computer running Windows (XP, Vista or 7) or Macs (Leopard, Lion or Snow Leopard). The web browser should be at least Internet Explorer 6.0, Firefox 5.0, Safari 4.0 or Google Chrome 13. The media player should be at least Flash 10. Pop-up blockers must be disabled, and cookies and JavaScript should be enabled.

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 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 directory 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.

A Social Suite enables attendees to share their experiences at the show via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

For more information, visit www.techmanufacturexpo.com.

Tech ManufactureXPO Exhibitors

At least 23 companies are exhibiting at Tech ManufactureXPO. Visit www.techmanufacturexpo.com for the latest additions to the lineup.

Automated Precision Inc.—Advanced metrology equipment.

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

ATS Automation—Custom automated assembly systems, pallet-transfer conveyors, PC-based vision systems, automated packaging platforms, tray handlers, Cartesian robots, flexible feeders, machining centers, rotary indexers, and motor-winding machines.

Baltec Corp.—Radial and orbital riveting equipment and assembly presses.

Bosch Rexroth Corp.—Hydraulics, pneumatics, electric drives, motors and control systems, conveyors, linear motion systems, and modular components for building machines, workstations and other equipment.

Delta Regis Tools Inc.—Electric screwdrivers, screwfeeders, torque testers and torque-reaction arms.

DENSO Robotics—SCARA robots and five- and six-axis articulated robots.

Design Tool Inc.—Handheld automatic screwdrivers; multispindle screwdriving systems; screw presenters; automatic pocket-cutting and screw insertion machines; and automatic nail-driving systems.

Elite Engineering Inc.—Assembly process management software.

FARO—Computer-aided coordinate measurement machines and software.

Gagemaker—Tubing and casing gauges, rotary shouldered gauges, connection gauges, thread gauges and groove gauges.

Herrmann Ultrasonics Inc.—Ultrasonic equipment for welding plastic parts, bonding nonwoven materials and sealing plastic packaging.

HyperCyl—Hydropneumatic and servo-electric cylinders for assembly and forming applications.

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.

PHD Inc.—Electric, pneumatic and hydraulic automation components, including cylinders, escapements, grippers, linear slides, rotary actuators, clamps, switches and sensors.

Pilgrim Software—Enterprise risk, compliance and quality management software for automotive, aerospace, medical and other highly regulated industries.

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

QC Group Inc.—Precision dimensional inspection services; engineering and re-engineering services; 3D scanning services; and training and staffing services.

QT9 Software—Quality management software for large and small businesses.

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

TE-CO Workholding—Tooling, jigs and fixtures for gauging, measurement and inspection.

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.

 

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