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Investing in technology?

Today, the page is turning. Manufacturers are more confident about their prospects, and this optimism is reflected in the growth this year of the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show 2011 (CMTS).


August 8, 2011
by PLANT STAFF

Manufacturing in Canada has had a rough ride the past couple of years, and not just because of the fallout from the worldwide recession. Increasingly aggressive global competition, escalating costs, environmental issues and a Canadian dollar that has passed the US greenback in value represent a convergence of conditions that are challenging, indeed, when it comes to making a buck.

Not surprisingly, industrial trade shows have been feeling the pinch, especially through the downturn. The number of exhibitors slid as did attendance.

Today, the page is turning. Manufacturers are more confident about their prospects, despite ongoing competitive challenges, and this optimism is reflected in the growth this year of the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show 2011 (CMTS), which runs from Oct. 17-20 at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the show’s producer, has expanded the event and the focus is on elevating the attendee experience with live equipment demonstrations, more than 600 exhibitors, an exclusive industry keynote speaker, interactive panel discussions and educational sessions, plus more opportunities to network.

“We did a cross-Canada survey of CMTS delegates and there’s more optimism out there, which we’re seeing on the show floor,” says Nick Samain, SME’s event manager in Toronto.

Nearly 60% of the respondents plan to invest more in manufacturing equipment this year compared to what they spent in 2010, and approximately 30% are prepared to invest the same amount of money year over year.

Sixty per cent are exploring areas for diversification, with 62% planning to upgrade their machining and equipment as part of that strategy. Other areas earmarked for upgrading or diversification are design and engineering (45%), processing equipment (38%), quality (38%) and materials (35%).

Of the 75% planning to invest in manufacturing equipment this year, budgets will range from $1 million and more (10.5%); $250,000 to $999,999 (16.3%); $50,000 to $249,999 (25.4%); and under $50,000 (21.8%).

Two-thirds of respondents say trade shows play a role in their purchasing strategies; 81.3% use them to see equipment in action; 70.3% want to learn about new applications; 72.5% are looking for new products; and 52.7% attend to meet with technical staff.

Close to half of the respondents cite “keeping production costs under control” and “improving workforce productivity” as their most pressing challenges, while 22% reported difficulty keeping up with industry trends.

SME is dealing with this latter point by being more interactive prior to the show using several online channels. Manufacturers can keep up with show developments on an enhanced CMTS website, and SME is helping them keep up with industry trends through its newsletter, a twitter feed, and engagement through LinkedIn, Facebook and You Tube. You can check out the options by visiting http://cmts.ca.

“We want to be more than a show location,” says Samain. “We want to create a community and interact with each other before the event rather than having just one-way communication.”

So far, SME’s efforts are paying off. Samain reports brisk business with exhibitors. Some of the big players who have been absent are returning and there are new ones. He’s also predicting 10,000 visitors this year, a 20% increase over last year.

International flavour
India will have a significant presence at the show. The Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) agency is the biggest exhibitor with a pavilion and about 150 companies that will demonstrate their capabilities in IT, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, mining (including oil and natural gas), machine tools and automation technologies. The delegation will also be hosting high-level events with Canadian and Indian consulate representatives and delegates.

The show’s international flavour will be further enhanced with a pavilion from Italy and its 12 to 15 exhibitors, and look for a contingent from Japan.

A key component of this year’s CMTS is the education segment. SME has secured some dynamic keynote speakers, starting with hard-core entrepreneur and TV personality Kevin O’Leary, a business pundit on CBC’s The Lang and O’Leary report, and a panel member on both the Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank shows. Samain has also confirmed John McElroy, a US automotive journalist and host of TV’s AutoLine Detroit and American Driver.

Sessions throughout the four-day event will cover cost control and productivity, energy costs, workplace productivity, laser cutting, machining technology and trends, design, manufacturing in the automotive, additive and medical sectors, and there will be an automotive summit.

To add some fun to the mix, Samain says 10 iPADS will be given away during the registration period and to broaden the show’s appeal beyond the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), registrants are being offered packages for hotel stays, shuttle to and from the show and entertainment in the evenings.

Conditions are ideal for manufacturers planning to invest in equipment and technology. Canadian companies can make use of the two-year tax write-off for their purchases, a measure that was extended in the federal government’s 2011 budget, and although the Canadian dollar is high, it means more bang for their purchasing dollars.

With manufacturers’ confidence and prospects improving, CMTS 2011 will provide buyers with an opportunity to experience under one roof the range of new machines, equipment and advanced technology that will be central to their ongoing business success.