A Tale of Two Manufacturing Conferences

Reaching customers and prospects with a company’s message and involving them in educational and networking events evidently is becoming more difficult. Manufacturing technology trade shows—the staples of the 80s and 90s—are just about extinct. Some still exist, albeit in quite smaller form factors and with different twists.

Some vertical industry shows, such as packaging and oil & gas, still thrive. Others are on the downward slope.

The movement toward large single-company user conferences, spurred many years ago by Rockwell Automation’s Automation Fair replacing its appearance at control shows, has spread like kudzu. On the other hand, I’ve seen a few of those start to shrink.

What does it take to get people out of the office/plant even though there are many benefits? What do you think?

The PAS technology conference is next Tuesday. Eddie Habbibi, CEO, sent me a slide with five reasons to attend a live event.


PAS PTC 5 Reasons









ABB is taking a different approach. Last year it announced that it would turn its annual Automation and Power World event into a biennial event. There must have been some pressure within the company to do something. On June 4, it is sponsoring an online education event Optimizing technology for the changing face of industry.

ABB says the digital conference agenda reflects results of ABB’s recent survey of customer concerns; Aging workforce, cost pressures and infrastructure. The event will take place live online on June 4 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. EDT. The conference grants exclusive access to ABB’s global experts as they share their knowledge and experience virtually, making the information available around the world in real time.

Online presentations will offer best practices and practical guidance on today’s most pressing business and operational issues in automation and manufacturing. ABB recently conducted a survey among customers to determine their top concerns. The most pressing issues within electric utility and industry were found to be an aging workforce, cost pressures and infrastructure. In fact, more than 70 percent of respondents identified an aging workforce as their chief concern.

From the press release: Participation in the live, digital conference provides networking opportunities with ABB subject matter experts and industry peers, as well as an opportunity to earn Professional Development Hours (PDHs).

The conference will feature 25 sessions and 60 speakers. All sessions will be archived and available for on-demand viewing so those who are unable to attend live sessions of interest can still benefit from the valuable educational content at any time following the events. Registration is free for industry professionals.

Keynote speaker, Richard Worzel, best-selling author of “Who Owns Tomorrow?” will address how the world is changing and what manufacturers need to do about it.

The conference is organized around six learning tracks:

  • Reliability
  • Asset management
  • Safety and compliance
  • Productivity
  • Best practices
  • Doing more with less

June’s event will focus on automation, with a second power-focused SmartStream Digital Conference scheduled for November 2014.

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