Numerous major economic indicators signal that the US manufacturing industry, the second largest market in the world with a value of nearly $9 trillion, will enjoy its strongest growth in more than a decade leading up to IMTS 2018, held Sept. 10-15, 2018 at McCormick Place in Chicago. Overall manufacturing growth for 2018 is expected to increase by eight to nine per cent compared to 2017, according to Patrick McGibbon, vice president of Strategic Analytics, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which produces IMTS.
“Economic indicators suggest a longer term, continued expansion. In the short term, we anticipate immediate acceleration in capital investment among IMTS 2018 visitor and exhibitor companies,” says McGibbon. “Changes to the U.S. tax law should further encourage purchasing during and after the show. Reduced tax rates will increase available capital. R&D tax credits expand innovation and fully expense capital expenditures which encourages purchasing.”
“The US manufacturing sector is expressing economic confidence at levels not seen since the dot com boom. If there was ever a year to experience the energy, optimism and innovations offered at IMTS, this is it,” says Peter R. Eelman, vice president – Exhibitions & Business Development at AMT, who has participated in every IMTS since 1980.
Orders for manufacturing technology in January 2018 were up 44 percent compared to January 2017, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report from AMT. It was the second-largest January in the 22 years recorded by AMT’s USMTO program.
The February 2018 Manufacturing ISM Report On Business notes that the PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) registered 60.8 per cent, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from the January reading of 59.1 per cent and the 18th consecutive month of expansion. A reading above 50 per cent indicates the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.
Other positive indicators include U.S. cutting tool shipments, a metric produced by the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI) and AMT. With a year-to-date total of $2.195 billion, cutting tool shipments for 2017 was up 8.3 per cent over 2016. The Michigan Consumer Confidence Index rose to 120 in March, the highest level in over 14 years.
The Challenges of Growth
Industry capacity utilisation stands at 78 per cent and is headed toward 80 per cent, which economists consider a key metric that signals full utilisation. At this point, supply chain and labor constraints can hinder further expansion. Some of the strongest U.S. segments include automotive (82.9 per cent capacity utilisation), aerospace (77.6 per cent) and energy and power generation (79.8 per cent) segments.
“Growth-minded visitors will attend IMTS 2018 looking for solutions that remove production bottlenecks,” says Eelman. “For many manufacturers, simply doing more of the same thing in a larger space or adding more people isn’t a viable option. Growth requires change, and visitors view IMTS as a change agent. They come to the show knowing that they can find technologies that not just shave minutes off production cycles, but that can positively disrupt their manufacturing approach.”
As an example, visitors will find solutions that automate previously manual processes throughout every IMTS pavilion, especially as it relates to parts handling, finishing, quality control and data management, as well as subtractive and additive processes.
“This is where the strength of the U.S. entrepreneurial system comes to the forefront,” says Eelman. “If there is a way to increase an operator’s production capacity or free the operator from tedious tasks in order to perform more value-added activities, there’s likely an IMTS exhibitor working on a solution.”
As of March, more than 1,800 exhibitors have secured more than 1.3 million sq. ft. of exhibit space.