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February 2014

Automation GT at ATX West 2014

Automation GT attended ATX West 2014 this year to engage with the manufacturing community and with automation customers.

By Rachel Greenberg, Automation GT Technical and Marketing Content

From Tuesday February 11 through Thursday February 13, 2014, Automation GT was at the Automation Technology Expo West, a co-located event of the Medical Design and Manufacturing West Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim, CA.

With a booth located right at the heart of the show, Automation GT used the expo as an opportunity to connect with old and new customers, industry peers, and anyone interested in robotics innovation.

Says Jamie Estrada, a recently hired Account Manager at Automation GT, “From a sales perspective, the show was not only beneficial in helping to generate new business, it also provided me with the opportunity to meet some key contacts from existing accounts, which enabled me to introduce myself to them in person as their new Account Manager. This is extremely advantageous when building initial rapport and that would have been difficult to accomplish so early on otherwise.”

In addition, she adds, the show gave her the opportunity to hear all about Automation GT’s reputation through the very positive feedback she received from customers and affiliates, all of which reassured her in her decision to join the team.

MD&M West is a sort of one-stop-shopping experience for anyone working in production and assembly. As the biggest show of its kind, it brings together materials scientists, engineers, and inventors of many types under one roof to foster industry growth and development. It is an ideal setting for industry insiders and customers to form professional connections, identify new partners, and stay informed on industry standards and trends.

The show is roughly divided into seven categories: medical technology, packaging materials, automation technology, design and manufacturing, aerospace and defense technology, plastics, and electronics. Each of the five halls of the Anaheim Convention Center was packed shoulder to shoulder with booths, and all of the upstairs meeting rooms were in use for panels and talks on subjects broadly relating to issues and trends in materials science engineering and industry.

A visitor could easily use up all three days of the event from opening to closing time and still not see everything there is to see. But for many visitors, the primary goal of the event is to identify manufacturers or material suppliers for their projects. In fact, going through the show in many ways feels like walking through a manufacturing process from start to finish.

For example, if a visitor were in the business of producing catheters, they could visit PLASTEC West to connect with materials producers to purchase a new plastic or material to use in designing the catheters. Or, if the visitor were in the business of selling catheters, they could instead shop with a medical technology company at MD&M West that has come to the event to market their own products which the visitor could then use to build a catheter. Or, if the visitor had a design or product ready to go, they might need to look for technology for assembling the catheters in a production line. For this, the visitor could visit the automation hall, ATX West, and talk with robotics manufacturers about how to design an assembly line machine for improving the speed and efficiency of the assembly of the catheters. Or, if the visitor is ready with a warehouse of assembled products, they could visit the packaging room, WestPack, and learn about options in labeling, packaging, and shipping their product.

Further, many of the businesses exhibiting at the event were connected with each other in some way. One company exhibiting surgical supplies might be using another company’s plastic. A company displaying a robot with a specific application might be using another company’s generic robot component.

For example, notable robotics supplier FANUC, a seller with one of the bigger booths at the event in which a massive robotic arm unstacked and restacked large boxes on an assembly line, often sells robotics components to Automation GT. In turn, Automation GT often buys components from Rockwell Automation, an industrial monitor supplier that was also present at the event.

The event also offered attendees opportunities to network, and to learn about many issues and trends in the industry. For example, the expo was a testament to the rapidly growing popularity of 3D printing. In addition, notes Automation GT Director of Sales Jim Snook, it was apparent at the event that there is a growing need for automation in the biotech and life science industries. With the growth of interest in genome technology, we may start to see an increase in demand for automation in this market, whereas in the past most of our interactions with this sector have been related to the development of pharmaceutical and medical device technologies.

Armed with this knowledge, companies can make plans in a more intelligent way for the coming year.

“Overall,” says Molly Hansen, another Account Manager at Automation GT, “I would say it was an exciting show for both the industry rookie and veteran because it made it evident how far the technologies of robotics and automation have come and what is possible in the future for the industry.”