BY PETER EELMAN VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXPERIENCE OFFICER, EXHIBITIONS
“Ugh” best describes the year MMXX. It’s been physically, mentally, and emotionally tough.
Tribulations test our fortitude, knowledge, and character. As we navigate through them, our actions reveal strength and insight. By purposefully dealing with trials, we begin to feel energized by new opportunities.
The IMTS community is persevering, contributing to the fight against COVID-19 and developing a new paradigm robust with opportunity.
In January 2020, we were on track for a record-breaking show. At the IMTS Exhibitor Workshop, we announced the theme for IMTS 2020, “Digital Manufacturing. Implemented.” Little did I know that this phrase would soon prove its relevance tenfold.
By April, the pandemic was entrenched in America. After the initial shock of long-term stay-at-home orders, many of us were developing new ways to work. Your AMT Exhibitions department increased our online presence with “The Show” to offer updates about IMTS 2020 and important industry news.
From additive manufacturing, metal removal, and CAD/CAM companies to OEMs and tech-ed programs, manufacturers in the IMTS community were responding to fight COVID. As they raced to fulfill orders and implement digital manufacturing, many needed to strengthen supply chains.
In May, we partnered with the Reshoring Initiative, a non-profit organization that evaluates the true cost of sourcing. We launched IMTS.com/Supply-Chain to share information on recovering from disturbances caused by COVID-19.
By early June, local governments made it clear that shows could not take place in Chicago. Your AMT Exhibitions team developed two new initiatives: IMTS Network and IMTS spark – now on display at IMTS.com and performing beyond our expectations.
On Sept. 14-18, we broadcasted IMTS Network live. With 12 distinct shows, we reached new heights in social media engagement (see graphic for details). The numbers underscore the market for original industry content related to a physical event.
On Sept. 21, in partnership with Gardner Business Media, we ignited IMTS spark, a comprehensive digital platform to connect exhibitors and customers. Through showrooms, educational content, and networking opportunities, IMTS spark features 2,044 exhibitors, 120 live demos, 250 sessions, and 10 conferences through March 15, 2021.
The remarkable turnout reinforces an industry hungry for new technology, advancement, and connection. It also points to the future. Physical events will be delivered as a product line and include a robust online presence with technical and “info-tainment” content which build an audience that cannot attend and enhance the experience of those who do attend.
Since April, our new initiatives have helped IMTS surpass more than 2.1 million social media reaches. With new content planned for Spark, the IMTS community will continue to grow.
We are working diligently with our partners to deliver several physical events. CIMT 2021, the Chinese International Machine Tool show in Beijing, will take place April 12-17 and mark our first in-person show with the AMT/USA Pavilion featuring AMT member companies as exhibitors. With SME, we’ll continue to produce the Manufacturing Technology Series, which includes the regional shows. WESTEC 2021 will take place Sept. 21-23, in Long Beach, California.
The state of IMTS 2022
IMTS 2022 is starting off strong. We are optimistic that as we go through 2021, it will continue to track in a positive direction. In addition, the co-located show, Hannover Messe, is also experiencing a solid start to 2022 sales.
From the online enthusiasm for IMTS, conversations with manufacturers, and the positive outlook from the economists at MTForecast, I sincerely believe IMTS 2022 is poised to play a critical role in our industry’s rebirth. The pandemic may have scrapped our 2020 plans, but our response to those challenges are propelling us toward new levels of agility, productivity, and profitability.