IMTS Highlights (Part 2): Powerful Momentum
Tim Thiessen 10.03.2018
This blog post is Part 2 in our series sharing key headlines observed by Okuma's executive leadership at IMTS 2018.
Over the years I've had the pleasure of attending 14 IMTS shows, and this year's event was hands-down the most fun and the most productive. Pretty much everyone I've spoken with shares my enthusiasm...there was something in the air! In fact, the positive energy seems to be spilling over to the post-show weeks as well, that's how powerful the momentum is now in our industry. What set this year's show apart? Following are a few things I observed while in Chicago.
Affordable Pricing Plus Flexibility
Of course, folks like to attend IMTS to see what's new, and the Okuma booth contained an abundance of new technologies that we unveiled. We also like to share some of our "best kept secrets", so we had an area focused on our Affordable Excellence lineup of machine tools. In particular we spotlighted the GENOS M460-5AX, the GENOS L3000MY and the GENOS M560-V. When we showed these machines to attendees we got two responses. First, when they discovered the price, many were surprised they could get an Okuma for that. Second, people learned that these machines have a lot of flexibility. For example, when using them with a robot, the automation is now smart enough to set its own points and run even short batches of parts. Seeing this kind of flexibility at an affordable price was an eye-opening experience for a lot of people.
Constant Stream of Traffic
The machine tools that got the most attention were in our automation section, where we showed a number of machines with either articulating robots or gantry robots on them. A couple of these machines were set up with custom automation and this attracted a lot of interest, with people coming over to learn about the processes we were showing. We also got some attention from people who know Okuma, but were surprised to see us demonstrating our own gantry loader - they didn't know we offered this. Overall, there was a constant stream of traffic keeping our automation area busy.
Women Having a Positive Impact
I read a blog post by Pete Zelinski at Modern Machine Shop where he noted seeing more women and couples in attendance at the show. I noticed this too, and it's a really great thing to see. Women in manufacturing offer a balancing viewpoint and bring a fresh perspective to our work, and here at Okuma we've been supportive of that. In Japan we have many extremely capable women who are application engineers, running and demonstrating machines in the showroom. At Okuma America we have talented women filling important roles in every aspect of our business, and they're really having a positive impact. For decades our industry has been known for being male-dominated, so it's very encouraging to see the steady influx of women.
Youth Stepping Up
Along with women we're also seeing more young people joining the ranks. I can't tell you how many times I'd be talking with a shop owner and right alongside him would be his son or daughter, who's now running the day-to-day at his company. In five years it might be his grandchild who'll be stepping in to fill a leadership role. As things get handed down from generation to generation, there's a different approach to how they do business. Sometimes a new generation wants to go after automation, or wants to diversify the company and get involved in different industries. I really enjoy watching these companies get passed down and its always gratifying when the company has a certain builder they've been loyal to over the years. It's heartwarming to see them bring the 2nd and 3rd generations into our booth to meet the people they have longstanding business relationships with. There's a pride for them in showing "this is who we work with, these are our valued business partners."
Attend Our Winter Showcase!
If you came to see the Okuma booth you probably noticed all the changes and upgrades we made to our exhibit this year. It was a ton of work, but so worth it to get all the great reactions and feedback. You'd think we'd want to slow down a bit and recover from IMTS, but not us!!!...we have a lot of customers who were not able to attend IMTS that we want to share the experience with. To this cause we have planned and are preparing for an Event here in Charlotte! We'll be featuring many of the same demonstrations at our Winter Showcase, November 28 & 29, 2018 at Partners in THINC and Okuma America headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. Bring your team along, we look forward to seeing you.
Tim Thiessen is Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Okuma America Corporation.