August 2008 Edition
the view from IMTS 2008
Top execs set the stage for big showâ€™s opening
Signs point to robust metalworking economy
John Byrd III, President
AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology
Metalworking manufacturing isnâ€™t dead, dying or even sick for
that matter. According to John Byrd III, president of AMT-The
Association For Manufacturing Technology, the industry doesnâ€™t so
much as have the sniffles.
What the metalworking industry suffers from is the wrong public
Byrd says there is no better indicator of the industryâ€™s health
than its biennial extravaganza, the International Manufacturing
The 28th edition of IMTS takes place Sept. 8 through 13 in
Chicagoâ€™s McCormick Place, drawing industry professionals from 119
countries. More than 1,500 exhibiting companies will be on hand,
occupying 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space, attracting an
estimated 91,000 buyers.
Even before the doors open for IMTS 2008, Byrd says all the signs
point to a robust metalworking manufacturing economy.
"Exhibit space sales always provide measure of confidence," says
Byrd. "We surpassed our goal and hear daily from producers who tell
us that production operations continue to demonstrate a need for
highly capable new equipment. IMTS is certainly the place to find
In addition to metalworking equipment and related products and
services, the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) at IMTS 2008 will be
showcasing MTConnect, an open communication standard for
interconnectability between machines and independent systems.
"MTConnect may be the most exciting development in our industry
since the introduction of NC almost 40 years ago," says Byrd. "We
are mirroring the success occurring in the information technology
world. That is, allowing devices, equipment, and systems to output
data in an understandable format that can be read by any other
device using the same standard format to read the data.
"MTConnect will enable everyone in the production supply chain to
be part of making the manufacturing enterprise more productive."
AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology
IMTS provides chance to tap into new markets
Carlos M. Cardoso, CEO, Kennametal Inc.
For Kennametal Inc. CEO Carlos M. Cardoso, IMTS 2008 represents not only a
chance to expand on his companyâ€™s sales base, but to see how the manufacturing
landscape is changing.
"IMTS is always an exciting time for showcasing and learning about
manufacturing technology," Cardoso says. "This year will be particularly
exciting as the industry continues to grow globally, particularly in emerging
economies, and the materials and technologies advance to provide new and
improved ways to manufacture products. This event will serve as a platform for
customer collaboration, breakthrough technology, education, business opportunity
and global growth."
In a product-driven business, Cardoso says the ability to grasp the needs of
the customer is as key to survival as any sale.
"[IMTS] gives us an opportunity to connect with our customers â€” old and new â€”
and work together to form solutions to industry challenges," he says. "New
materials such as composites bring new challenges to customers and to
Kennametal, and we are ready to work together to conquer those obstacles from
start to finish."
As markets emerge around the globe, Cardoso says Kennametal and other
companies at IMTS are quickly adjusting.
"Global markets are influencing us dramatically," he says. "First, we are
following our global customers so that we can provide the services and products
that they need wherever they are in the world.
"We are excited by opportunities afforded by the emerging markets such as
India, China, Eastern Europe, and parts of South America. If you look at China
alone, 1.4 billion new customers are coming online, and these customers are
going to want all the things American customers enjoy now. We want to be there
to capture our share of these markets."
Welcome to the IT revolution
Rodger W. Pinney, president and CEO, United Grinding Technologies
For everything else IMTS 2008 might be, says Rodger W. Pinney, president and
CEO of United Grinding Technologies, it offers the chance to see and be seen. It
is especially true when it comes to the latest innovations in manufacturing.
"The IT revolution and its powerful impact on manufacturing
productivity will be on full display," Pinney says. "Industry
leaders will be exhibiting their newest IT solutions aimed at
boosting manufacturing uptime and efficiency through the integration
of floor performance data from multiple manufacturing processes with
plant management ERP and real-time SPC systems."
The technology show will also serve as a platform for several
machine tool manufacturers to launch: 1. their newest concepts
pertinent to total cost of ownership; and 2. total lifecycle
solutions business partnerships with their customers.
It will be a chance, says Pinney, to see the latest manufacturing
solutions for exotic materials in some of the hottest products from
aerospace to cutting tools.
"Machine tool suppliers will demonstrate some exciting
manufacturing competencies through assuming turnkey responsibility
for the integration of equipment, processes, management systems, and
workforce development to reliably produce highly complex parts at
the lowest possible cost per piece," he says.
Every IMTS is a special opportunity. But this year will offer the
chance for companies to broaden their ambitions in a unique way, he
"Thatâ€™s so much more true because this is a critical time period
when renewed interest in North American-based manufacturing is
gaining positive momentum," says Pinney. "Itâ€™s a tremendous
Invest now or lose in the future
John Israelsson, President, Sandvik Coromant U.S
These are good times to be an American manufacturer. The weak
dollar has made U.S. production cheaper. But Sandvik Coromant U.S.
President John Israelsson is quick to follow with a stern warning:
itâ€™s only temporary.
"Itâ€™s inevitable that the dollar will once again rise,"
Israelsson says. "For this reason, it is vital that American
manufacturing take advantage of the present conditions to prepare
for the future."
That means companies have to implement processes that increase
productivity and minimize the cost of labor per component. The
companies that do this will ensure a globally competitive advantage
long after the dollar has regained its footing.
"Getting the most out of a production line requires a willingness
to think outside of the box, an often-used but very relevant term,"
he says. "This is especially a challenge in terms of machining
Perhaps the best example is buying a new insert grade. It doesnâ€™t
require a substantial amount of daring. While the technology might
be revolutionary, increasing the feed rate or cutting speed doesnâ€™t
feel like a giant leap of faith.
Process evolution, by comparison, can be daunting.
"In many of the more traditional manufacturing environments,
there is resistance to implementing anything that requires
substantial change," says Israelsson. "That is a hurdle that must be
cleared when company owners are evaluating new technologies through
something like IMTS.
"Long-term success is viable and now is the time to act," he
says. "Each company will determine the scope of its own potential
through its willingness to think outside the box and work together
with machine tool builders and cutting tool suppliers to maximize
New heights for aircraft market
Scott Walker, President, Mitsui Seiki
IMTS 2008 takes place at a time when the manufacturing of
aircraft parts has been a driving force in the industry, says Scott
Walker, president of Mitsui Seiki.
"Our most significant machine tool developments in the last two
years have been for this market," says Walker.
Itâ€™s precisely in this area that Walker expects to see the most
productivity advancements at IMTS.
Some of that is reflective in the changing technologies. Where
aircraft have traditionally been built out of aluminum, todayâ€™s
newer generation are crafted from carbon fiber, composites, and new
titanium grade materials.
New machines incorporating low frequency machining designs, new
tool/spindle taper interfaces for high bending moments, and high
powered spindles and servos will be prominent at IMTS, predicts
"These features are required to provide the extended tool life
needed with the high stock removal conditions to keep costs in
line," says Walker.
Engines have changed as well. Part cost is continuing to be
"More parts per hour, more drilled holes per hour, and new
materials for extended engine life are continuing to drive new
manufacturing technologies," Walker says.
Mitsui Seiki has traditionally been a milling and grinding
machine tool manufacturer, but is now introducing a new five-axes
laser drilling machine at IMTS.
"A new generation of small footprint, five-axes, large machining
envelope machines have entered the market in the last two years,"
Walker says. "These types of machines are now in the cost range that
most high-end shops can afford and are not just for the big OEMs."
Information-intense world changes IMTS
Kurt Zierhut, Director of Electrical Engineering, Haas Automation Inc.
For 24 years, Kurt Zierhut has made IMTS a biennial tradition. Heâ€™s seen the
buildings change, get torn down and rebuilt. Heâ€™s seen the name change. But
perhaps most importantly, Zierhut, the director of electrical engineering at
Haas Automation, has watched the slow but undeniable contraction in the size of
While many view the manufacturing showâ€™s shrinking as an accurate
indicator of the industryâ€™s health, Zierhut vehemently disagrees,
citing a comparison with the computer industryâ€™s showcase event,
"That event grew dramatically over a period of 15 years until, in
only a few more years, it shrank to nothing," says Zierhut.
"However, nobody says the computer industry is contracting. This is
because the methods of introducing products and information have
changed. We are in an information-intense world. Few people would go
to a show that gives them nothing more that they could see on the
Those that still attend make the trip to see something new, on
the cutting edge, that hasnâ€™t been seen before, and cannot be seen
"I think this is the key," Zierhut says. "IMTS will thrive only
if we, the presenters, bring these new ideas and products to the
show and catch the attention of our customers."
Zierhut estimates he sees maybe 10 new ideas at each show. But
heâ€™s not expecting this yearâ€™s IMTS to set records. Rather, he
estimates the innovations will come in processes.
"They wonâ€™t be dramatic changes to the way machines work," says
Zierhut. "They are gradual improvements in the productivity of
machines. These are things like robotic loading, pallet loading, and
faster machining. These are the things people come to IMTS to see."
Haas Automation Inc.
Multi-tasking and flexibility the key to success
Brian Papke, President, Mazak Corporation
To Brian Papke, president of Mazak, IMTS serves as the best way for
manufacturers to evaluate their productivity and find new ideas for improving
"Not only can they find methods of cutting parts faster at IMTS,
but they also can find ways to increase equipment utilization and
improve throughput," says Papke. "Concepts such as multi-tasking,
five-axis machines, automation, and groups of machines with robot
integration will enhance a manufacturerâ€™s ability to compete in the
At Mazakâ€™s manufacturing operation in Florence, KY, Papke says
his company can remain globally competitive as long as they can
integrate concepts like Done-In-One, multi-tasking, Palletech,
five-axis machines, together with Lean manufacturing.
"We just went through an analysis of the machines that weâ€™ve
recently introduced into our operations, similar to those weâ€™ll show
at IMTS, and frankly we underestimated the productivity
improvement," he says.
"The numbers are outstanding. Originally we estimated a 40
percent reduction in cycle times. The actual numbers were closer to
a 70 percent reduction. We try to bring this type of thinking to
IMTS, and provide real technology solutions that will improve
Among those feature solutions, Mazak will showcase the Integrex
i-150, aimed at bringing versatility and accuracy on small, complex
components; the Integrex e-420 H-ST II for multi-tasking; and three
Hyper Quadrex models.
"They all bring together multi-tasking and flexibility for higher
production volume parts and will illustrate the fusion of
technology, performance and value that our customers can evaluate,"
Taking advantage of booming times
Glynn Fletcher, President, Agie Charmilles U.S.
Is the cost for production has skyrocketed for many overseas rivals, the
United States has enjoyed something of a metalworking manufacturing renaissance
in the form of rising exports and domestic sales.
One of the keys for that, says Glynn Fletcher, president of Agie Charmilles
U.S., is the cost of energy.
"America is the worldâ€™s largest country in terms of consumer
spending," he says. "As rising fuel costs drive up the prices on
goods produced abroad, more and more companies will recognize a
benefit in bringing previously outsourced manufacturing back to the
Fletcher says this is a time of rare opportunity for
manufacturers to invest in new and bold technologies â€” the most
surefire way of being on the cutting edge.
"Productivity plays a large role in a manufacturerâ€™s ability to
maximize profits," he says. "Achieving the highest possible
productivity requires a willingness to invest in new technologies.
The current state of the market offers many incentives for doing so.
"Interest rates are relatively low, reducing the cost of
investing," says Fletcher. "Additionally, the governmentâ€™s stimulus
package for business offers tax incentives for capital investment.
At the moment, it is extremely cost effective for manufacturers to
update their technology to take advantage of the latest
Fletcher eyes IMTS as the perfect springboard for taking
advantage of the current market.
"IMTS is always an exciting time for manufacturing," he says.
"The innovations unveiled at this yearâ€™s show will be perfectly
timed to boost the productivity and profitability of American
Itâ€™s survival of the fittest
Bill Gibbs, President, Cimatron Technologies Inc. / Gibbs and Associates
If itâ€™s time for IMTS already, then Bill Gibbs is starting to feel a little
old. The president for Cimatron Technologies and Gibbs and Associates attended
his first IMTS in 1978. At that show, he recalls the showcase piece being a CAM
software you could talk to, instead of typing. Of course, that program was a bit
ahead of its time: a solution in search of a problem, which is not a great basis
for a business plan.
"Even had their technology been up to snuff, most people can type
â€˜-2.4368â€™ faster than they can say â€˜minus two point four three six
eight,â€™" says Gibbs. "The company didnâ€™t last long."
Gibbs mentions all this keeping in mind the current economic
landscape: a weak U.S. dollar, high gas prices, tight credit, the
housing crisis, and a new president around the corner.
"Iâ€™m sure a lot of us stop and ponder how long our companies will
be around," he says. "Itâ€™s not something we should take for granted.
The best way to ensure that our companies will be around a while is
to do something about it."
And in manufacturing that means improving oneâ€™s ability to
compete: to make better parts faster.
"Improving your competitiveness is more important in a tight
economy than in a good economy," says Gibbs. "In good times,
everybody has more work than they can get to. In tight times,
inefficient non-competitive companies fall by the wayside."
Manufacturing competitiveness is more technology-driven today
than ever before, making IMTS a crucial tool for gaining knowledge.
"You have to see whatâ€™s new," says Gibbs. "What can improve your
competitiveness. See what can help your company be around awhile.
IMTS can help all of us have a better and more productive next
Cimatron Technologies Inc.
Harnessing the cutting edge of technology
Tom Dillon, President, Mori Seiki
To Mori Seiki President Tom Dillon, IMTS serves as a launch site for greater
productivity both at Mori Seiki USA, and for the manufacturing industry in
general. Part of the reason for that is the shifting landscape in the global
"Where, in the past, manufacturing in the United States might have been more
focused on the automotive market, we are now seeing a resurgence in energy,
aircraft, and agriculture segments," says Dillon. "These expanding markets
require innovative technologies and the most advanced machinery to accommodate
for the growing number of users."
Because demand is constant, it places a greater need on machine tool builders
to find better ways to improve productivity. In that sense, Dillon sees a
mutually beneficial relationship.
"The combined productivity of builders and users naturally results in
profitability for both groups," he says.
Mori Seiki will be introducing several new machines at IMTS 2008, including
the NT6600/4000CS, which features a broad Y-axis travel and faster Z-axis rapid
For his part and that of Mori Seiki, the goal is to enable todayâ€™s tool users
"to expand their business by employing the most advanced technologies." Then
itâ€™s up to the users to be "bold and visionary" enough to apply those tools to
their processes long after IMTS 2008 closes its doors.
New ideas can help improve company profit
Andrew Benson, VP Business Development,
Iscar Metals Inc.
Andrew Benson, vice president of business development of Iscar,
sums up IMTS concisely: "IMTS is about new ideas to improve profit.
Itâ€™s a forum to create both opportunity and solution."
Benson says IMTS will be the place to showcase a companyâ€™s
Iscar will be featuring not only the new SUMO line, but also
Matrix, Iscarâ€™s new venture into inventory management equipment.
Matrix features a flexible system in which drawers and cabinets can
be swapped out and management software electronically controls
access to items.
"After an exhaustive review of MRO vending systems, Iscar
invested to bring to market what we feel is one of the best products
(equipment and software)," Benson says.
He believes that escalating logistics cost will make more
important the need to gain control and better plan supply.
Customer recognition is important, he says, and the goal is to
create a new performance benchmark that yields even higher cost
"They expect improvement and the Iscar field engineer is always
prepared to bring that new solution," Benson says.
Will the attendeeâ€™s visit lead to improved productivity and
profit? "I believe so," Benson says, adding, "Is it measureable?
Indirectly, yes. We see the same customers every year at IMTS and
they seem to have more attendees each year. They are healthy
(profitable) because they make the investment to invest in