. The Booming Manufacturing Meetings Market | Northstar Meetings Group

The Booming Manufacturing Meetings Market

Production complexities and automation fuel a red-hot industry segment.

Northstar Meetings Group presents a new editorial series focusing on some of the hottest and most important meetings industry segments. Our in-depth coverage pinpoints trends, provides critical insights and offers expert advice for buyers and sellers in key sectors. Read more in our series here.

The manufacturing segment has joined the ranks of top meetings markets, thanks to a bigger playing field and increasing production/supply-chain complexities across a wide variety of industries. More widespread use of automation and developing technologies is heating things up as well.

"Manufacturing definitely ranks extremely high on the list of hot markets for conferences, trade shows and events of all kinds, a pattern we don't expect to change anytime in the near future," says Manish Shah, a principal of events-services company Events in America. Shah adds that the top manufacturing events serviced by his organization are experiencing consistent year-over-year growth, averaging 3 to 4 percent in attendance and 5 percent in exhibitor counts.

Increasing Attendance

Venues throughout the U.S. have been hosting manufacturing and supply-chain management industry events with a pattern of increasing attendance. FABTECH 2018, billed as North America's largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event, attracted more than 1,500 exhibiting companies and a total of 33,755 attendees to Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center this past November. Preliminary figures show that more than 1,700 exhibitors and more than 48,000 attendees will head to Chicago's McCormick Place to participate in FABTECH 2019 on Nov. 9 -11, according to a statement from co-sponsor SME. Other FABTECH sponsors include the American Welding Society, whose AWS Welding Show co-located with FABTECH in Atlanta; Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International, and the Precision Metalforming Association.

Also in Atlanta, MODEX 2018, sponsored by international trade association MHI, drew 30,944 registrants, representing a 25 percent jump over 2017 attendance figures. The net square-footage at MODEX 2018 also set a record, occupying 283,025 square feet of space at the Georgia World Congress Center and encompassing 925 exhibits. The Georgia Logistics Summit co-located with the event.

Atlanta is also a natural for manufacturing meetings because its manufacturing industry infrastructure comprises a wide range of small-, medium-, and large-size companies engaged in a variety of manufacturing activities, from food processing and textiles to metal products and transportation equipment. The manufacturing expertise of many of Atlanta's manufacturing concerns can be leveraged to enrich programming at all types of manufacturing meetings and events held in the city.

Manufacturing definitely ranks extremely high on the list of hot markets for conferences, trade shows and events of all kinds, a pattern we don't expect to change anytime in the near future.
Manish Shah, Events in America

Meanwhile, 49,718 manufacturing and supply-chain executives attended MHI's ProMat 2019 conference in Chicago. George Prest, MHI's CEO, notes that it was the largest in the history of the four-day event, with an 11 percent increase in attendance over 2017 and a roster of registrants from virtually all manufacturing and supply-chain industries.

Both Prest and Shah attribute attendance figures like these — and the growth of the manufacturing/supply-chain meetings segment in general — partially to a change in the definition of manufacturing. "Manufacturing used to mean formation," Shah states. "Now, it covers the traditional formation" of product, "as well as processing, packaging, equipment, automated systems and robotics, to name a few."

Adds Prest, "MODEX, like manufacturing and supply chain, has grown not only in size, but in overall scope. Attendees experienced a wide range of manufacturing, supply-chain, and transportation-equipment solutions and systems and education" at MODEX 2018, with the same expected for MODEX 2019 and beyond.

The implementation of automation — including robotics and even artificial intelligence — is playing an equally significant role in the success of the manufacturing and supply-chain meetings segment. Manufacturers and supply-chain organizations, sources say, know they must implement automated systems and solutions to ensure that they can deliver products and services at a speed and caliber that allows them to thrive in an increasingly competitive climate. At the same time, the growing complexity of products being produced and delivered has made manufacturing a multifaceted process, with more steps and often a need to source parts from multiple geographic locations.

"Manufacturers and supply-chain companies realize they need to see systems and solutions up close and, just as importantly, to be educated about them," Shah observes. "In general, we are seeing demand for a three-day programming format, with at least two or three education tracks and 25 educational sessions per day."

John Catalano, SME, senior director of FABTECH, says efforts to boost the comprehensiveness of the event's educational component are ongoing. FABTECH 2018 featured more than 130 expert-led presentations and sessions. The most popular education tracks focused on automation, robotics, cutting and lasers, welding fabrication, lean manufacturing and workforce development, Catalano reports.

New Elements

New and innovative features — on the exhibits front as well as in programming and/or presentations by speakers whom attendees might not expect to encounter at a manufacturing event — also are contributing to the growth of the manufacturing meetings market and are expected to bolster its health and help drive attendance going forward. Among examples of such offerings, FABTECH 2018 had a Smart Manufacturing Hub where attendees could view displays of and daily presentations on advanced manufacturing technologies, including automation, the Internet of Things, 3-D printing and more. An "Ask the Experts Knowledge Bar," which hosted small group sessions designed to provide answers to specific 3-D/additive manufacturing challenges, was the centerpiece of an expanded 3-D/Additive Manufacturing Pavilion. One panel discussion centered on a new-to-FABTECH topic: the next generation entering the workforce.

FABTECH 2019 will feature a two-part keynote presentation by cybersecurity and fraud-prevention expert Frank Abagnale, whose exploits as a notorious imposter during the 1960s were played out in the motion picture "Catch Me If You Can." Abagnale will first share stories of his impostor years and then instruct attendees on how to protect themselves and their manufacturing businesses from fraud. In another presentation, animatronics engineer Grant Imahara, former host of Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters" TV series and a robotics consultant for Walt Disney Imagineering, will discuss his experiences as well as highlight the importance of advancing the manufacturing/engineering industry through technological development and other means.

Meanwhile, the American Manufacturing Summit 2020, produced by event management company Generis Group and slated to be held on March 24-25 in Chicago, will include for the first time several workshops and sessions built around case studies that illustrate how workforce management, lean manufacturing, process improvement and automation are being successfully implemented in the manufacturing sector. Cutting-edge topics have been integrated into the program. For instance, during one session, Sudhi Bangalore, vice president, Industry 4.0, at Black & Decker Inc., will discuss reviving U.S. manufacturing through disruptive innovation. At another session, Jayant Kalagnanam, director, enabling IoT and AI technologies and chief scientist, Industry 4.0, IBM, will focus on applying analytics and artificial intelligence to factory-floor operations.

IPC APEX 2020, sponsored by IPC-Association Connecting Electronics Industries and scheduled for Feb. 1- 6 in San Diego, will kick off with a keynote address by aerospace entrepreneur Burt Rutan. He designed the legendary Voyager, the first aircraft to circle the world nonstop without refueling; created SpaceShipOne, the world's first privately funded spacecraft; and, in a joint venture with Virgin's Richard Branson, formed The Spaceship Co. to manufacture and market spaceships for the new commercial space-flight industry. Currently working on two projects, a gasoline-powered amphibious aircraft and the Stratolaunch, a combination airplane/spaceship, Rutan will cover the subject of how to motivate creative teams and mitigate their fear of risk.

Players in the manufacturing sector are "highly motivated to attend events that not only explore cutting-edge technologies and concepts, but that present them in different ways," Shah concludes. "This, along with drivers like the development of technology, will be the key to moving things forward."


The Limitless Capabilities of Atlanta’s Manufacturing Industry

From all over the country and world, meetings and conventions are hosted in Atlanta to share new solutions and advancements throughout the supply chain, manufacturing and automotive industries. 
Adjacent to the airport you’ll find 1.3 million square feet of cargo storage connected to expansive interstate and railway systems—accomplishing 2-day shipping to 80% of the consumer and commercial markets. Atlanta ranks in the top 20 cities for industry-related jobs with the third-lowest unionizations. Deloitte also named the city No. 2 in the nation for supply chain demand.
Atlanta also houses The Center of Innovation for Manufacturing and Georgia Tech; both offer facilities and advanced research in cutting-edge improvements to the industry. The wide-ranging manufactures consist of textiles, metals, food processing and equipment, making Atlanta the most diverse, successful, and effective host in the industry.

Contact Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau for more information or start your RFP today.