Don’t just read about the latest and greatest-see it for yourself at Assembly and Automation Technology Expo next month.

The Internet has certainly revolutionized how we get information. Indeed, when we surveyed ASSEMBLY’s readers recently, you told us the Internet was your No. 1 source of information about new assembly methods, technologies and strategies.

Even so, there’s nothing like kicking the tires for yourself, and there’s no better place to do that than at this year’s Assembly and Automation Technology Expo (AATExpo), which will be held Sept. 28-30 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL, immediately adjacent to Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

Sponsored by ASSEMBLY magazine, AATExpo will be co-located with five other shows: Medical Design & Manufacturing Midwest (MD&M Midwest), Green Manufacturing Expo, Design & Manufacturing Midwest, Electronics Midwest and Plastec Midwest.

AATExpo is the one-stop source for assembly-related equipment and materials, including automated assembly systems, adhesive dispensing equipment, robots, conveyors, parts feeders, metal and plastic welding equipment, adhesives and sealants, fasteners, machine vision systems, power tools, presses, workstations, process monitoring systems, and test and inspection equipment.

The show also plays host to dozens of integrators and machine builders with experience in assembling everything from the tiniest consumer gadgets to high-end medical devices and mission-critical components for the automotive and aerospace industries.

This year’s ATExpo will include a number of what show organizer Canon Communications describes as technology-specific areas, including a sensors and vision area, a wire processing area and the “Lean Factory,” which will present complimentary educational sessions on lean manufacturing.

The latter is organized by the Lean Factory Group, an association of lean manufacturing product and service providers that includes Bosch Rexroth Corp., CMA/Flodyne/Hydradne Inc., Leonardo Group Americas LLC, Orgatex Americas LLC, Schaeffer Systems International Inc., Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing Inc., Omron Scientific Technologies Inc., and Visual Workplace Inc. The Lean Factory sessions will show how to take a data-driven approach to line design; how to create a visual factory; and how to set up a lean production environment. The sessions will culminate in a demonstration of product assembly on an optimum lean line.

Canon Communications is also creating an Innovation Briefs Theater, a 50-seat amphitheater on the show floor complete with its own screen, where experts can give 30- to 40-minute seminars on various technologies.

If engineers need a nonbusiness reason to attend AATExpo, there’s this: You could come away from the show $250 or $500 richer. Canon Communications will be giving away one $250 Best Buy gift card to one lucky attendee every hour from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day of the show, and a $500 Best Buy gift card will be awarded at 3:30 p.m. each day of the show. Winners will be selected at random and must accept the gift card in person during the show.

Co-Located Shows

For those with responsibilities in the areas of design and planning, this year’s Design & Manufacturing Midwest show will include exhibitors offering the latest CAD software, computer hardware and peripherals, contract manufacturing services, motion control devices, material handling systems, plant engineering products and other manufacturing support equipment.

Similarly, Electronics Midwest is your one-stop source for the latest in component insertion and placement equipment, soldering machines and everything else you’ll need to manufacture and package printed circuit boards.

MD&M Midwest is the most efficient way to explore the latest advances in medical-grade materials, assembly components, electronics, design and engineering support, production equipment, packaging materials and machinery, sterilization systems, and a full complement of contract services for every aspect of the medical device manufacturing process, from R&D through full production.

Now in its second year, Green Manufacturing Expo focuses on sustainable manufacturing and covers economically sound and nonpolluting manufacturing processes that conserve energy and natural resources. Products and services on display include solar and wind power systems, recyclable and reusable packaging, energy management software, and consulting for energy management, recycling and waste treatment.

Finally, Plastec Midwest showcases the latest advances in primary processing machinery, computer-aided design and manufacturing, production machinery, materials, molds, material handling technology, and contract service providers.

A single entry badge allows attendees to visit all six shows. If you preregister online or bring show material with you on-site, admission to the shows is free. Otherwise, you will be charged an expo-only fee of $55 to register on-site. Online registration is available even on show days.

For more information, current exhibitor lists and to register for free show admission, visit any of the show web,,,,

Operational Excellence

At AATExpo and the five other Rosemont shows, engineers can do more than just take in the exhibits. Each show has its own conference program, too.

The AATExpo conference program was co-produced by Canon Communications and the Institute for Operational Excellence. Kevin J. Duggan, the institute’s founder, kicks things off at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28, with a one-hour keynote address, “Achieving Operational Excellence and Creating a Business That Is Design to Grow.”

Later that day, a pair of concurrent sessions will address value stream flow in business processes and value stream flow in manufacturing.

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, concurrent sessions will cover “Creating Mixed-Model Value Streams” and “Building the Lean Supply Chain for Operational Excellence.” On Thursday, Sept. 30, concurrent sessions will discuss “Creating Advanced Flow Through Shared Resources” and “3P for Operational Excellence.”

The Tuesday sessions run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a two-hour lunch from noon to 2 p.m. The Wednesday and Thursday sessions from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a two-hour lunch from noon to 2 p.m.

The early bird registration fee is $345 for one day, $495 for two days, and $595 for three days. After Aug. 27, registration is $445, $645 and $795 for one, two or three days, respectively.