Today was the final set-up day for the IMTS show in Chicago. American Machinist's booth is modest; we don't have any machines to program or fine-tune -- just about a hundred boxes of magazines to open, organize and disply. Still, the display company began setting up our small (10 x 25) booth sometime last week. And it took 3 staff members most of the day to make the booth look organized and ship-shape.
When we left Chicago's McCormack Place at close to 6 p.m. today, there were still hundreds of people at work. The exhibition floors were, frankly, a mess. It looked like trade show meets Katrina.
One company (at least, one that I know of) was working in near-panic; as the large booth was being constructed, engineers were trying to learn nuances of machinery that had been shipped straight to the show floor from a new overseas partner. None of the people in the booth had ever worked with the equipment before.
It's nearly midnight as I write this; I'm guessing the engineers are still working. I'm also guessing that by tomorrow, they'll all be expert enough to run, show and perhaps sell some of the new machines.
Bob Gardner, the top communications guy at AMT (which runs the IMTS show) said it's been the smoothest move-in he can recall at anytime in his tenure.
There is a lot of horsepower.I didn't have time today to consider any of the equipment closely; that's what the next 7 days are about. But there couldn't be a metal product anywhere in the world that can't be produced with equipment that's currently plugged in at IMTS.
Tomorrow, I'm sure I'll have learned something new, with a schedule that runs from 7 a.m. until at least 10 p.m.
I'll be sure to provide some of my thoughts here.