To stay current with global technology introductions and peer into the future of manufacturing, there is no better venue than IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show, held at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, USA, from 10-15 September, 2018.
“Because of the economic importance of the North American market, world-class companies plan their new technology introductions to coincide with IMTS 2018,” says Tim Shinbara, vice president – Manufacturing Technology at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which produces IMTS. “In addition, because of the velocity of technology expansion, products and concepts that were not ready for public consumption earlier in the year will debut in September at IMTS 2018.”
Dominant technologies to watch at IMTS 2018 include an increasing digital thread, robotics and automation, quality assurance and additive manufacturing.
A Digital Look Forward
AMT’s Emerging Technology Centre (ETC) has become renown for exposing visitors to technologies and concepts that shape the future of manufacturing. At IMTS 2018, the ETC will showcase a physically and digitally connected machine tool, robot arm and coordinate measuring machine (CMM).
“For those who want to see and experience a federated system of distributed manufacturing, the ETC digitised data demonstration provides a look into the technology trends that will dominate the next 15 years of manufacturing,” says Shinbara.
He explains that open standards like the MTConnect protocol and the ROS-Industrial (Robotic Operation System) architecture, both of which are featured in the ETC, lower the barrier for operations that want to coordinate data flow and data management between different models and makes of equipment.
“To attain the next level of productivity, decision makers need a higher level of visibility into discrete and disparate data points, as well as a holistic visualization of their operation,” says Shinbara. “Today, many visitors come to IMTS seeking to automate physical activities. In the future, they need to digitally connect equipment and automate data management. At IMTS 2018, we’ll show them how to make that possible.”
IMTS Essential for Business Today and Tomorrow
“We come to IMTS to learn about what we can do in the future,” says Scott Volk, vice president of MetalQuest Unlimited, Hebron, Neb. “When a customer comes to us with a problem, we can take what we’ve learned at the show and apply it to find a solution.”
Based on technology sourced at IMTS, MetalQuest has assembled an automated cell comprised of two Okuma 2SP CNC lathes with dual gantries, four FANUC robots and an Okuma vertical machining center. All are linked via the MTConnect protocol, and Volk analyzes the data to maximize productivity. With this system, the company uses a single operator to make 50,000 to 70,000 parts every month and does so on a globally cost-competitive basis.
“We’ve discovered equipment, workholding and cutting tools that we never knew existed at IMTS,” says Geno Lemery, director of facilities for Winsert, a 186-person provider of parts made from proprietary alloys that provide a unique combination of temperature, wear and corrosion resistance. “IMTS has provided the information Winsert needed to transform from an ordinary machine shop to an extraordinary world-class company with an overall equipment effectiveness of 90 percent, a nearly perfect productivity score.”
Accurate Gauge & Manufacturing has three facilities totaling 122,000 sq. ft. in Rochester Hills, Mich., and makes semi-truck axle carriers. Engineering & Safety Manager Mark Tario notes that, “Everybody has dreams for improving their business. IMTS is an idea incubator.” At IMTS 2016, Tario learned about a chamfering tool with an axial float that would automate deburring.
“Now that we automate the deburring process, we use the same number of workers, but we use them more wisely,” Tario said. “As the machine is running, operators can focus on quality and other productive activities.”
Wealth of Conferences
In addition to the exhibitions, Shinbara notes that, “The conferences and technical sessions at IMTS provide a concentrated educational opportunity for engineering, operations and management-level personnel to gain knowledge that can improve their competitive position.”
The IMTS Conference features more than 72 sessions that run from September 11 – 14. Each 50- minute session is focused on information that’s actionable for all manufacturers. Sessions cover current, relevant topics such as manufacturing process innovations, additive/alternative manufacturing, plant operations, automation/robotics, Industry 4.0/IIoT and quality/inspection/metrology.
“Editors from GIE Media, an IMTS media partner, evaluate presentations to ensure that they provide non-commercial insights and best practice information come from credible experts, industry leaders and technical professionals,” notes Shinbara.
IMTS also hosts five co-located conferences that will deliver a wealth of information: the Additive Manufacturing Conference on September 11 and 12, the Applied AM-EOS Additive Day on September 12, the Top Shops Workshop on September 13, the GAMS (Global Automation Manufacturing Summit) presented by HANNOVER MESSE USA on September 13 and the Industrial Laser Conference on September 12. HANNOVER MESSE USA, a co-located show with IMTS 2018, will also host presentations on automation, robotics and Industry 4.0 in its Solutions Theatre and Digital Factory area.