Not only was new technology on display at EASTEC 2023, May 16-18, but there were new faces, speakers, and an abundance of positive energy throughout all four buildings of the “Big E” officially named the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts. From the show floor and busy aisles to the packed speaker sessions and outdoor picnic tables, a congenial and confident vibe flowed through the event. The bright sunshine certainly added to the upbeat feeling as visitors walked among three buildings. Manufacturers from aerospace and defense to medical and automotive gathered to connect and find solutions to increase production, manage workforce, and genuinely collaborate to move the industry forward. New Technology from longtime EASTEC exhibitors showed a multitude of advancements to help manufacturers increase profitability. 5thAxis, Big Daishowa, Henning, and Jergens showed how workholding is evolving. Leistritz, Gorilla Mill, and GWS Tool Group showed off aggressively intricate tooling for challenging parts. Sunnen displayed its world-class honing equipment while SW North America presented its large but compact multispindle machining centers. Very cool inspection and measuring systems by Zeiss, Starrett Metrology Systems, and Keyence garnered attention for their capabilities to scan large volume parts and even analyze the tiniest parts. New robotics equipment and accessories were especially interesting in the Schunk and ABB Robotics booths. Many crowded around the ProShop booth to see their digital manufacturing management system, while others were drawn into the Kaiser Manufacturing booth to get their hands on the custom, rigid-foam workspace organizers. It was refreshing to see folks I’d met before, to meet new young people from Generation Z – like Kennedy Addo and Emily Rapp – working in the Keyence booth, and talk to entrepreneurs of family business owners – like Ed and Matthew Kays of Kays Engineering Inc. and Darci Morrissette of Hawkeye Innovation. Speakers – AI a popular theme Keynote speaker Michael Carroll, vice president of innovation and transformation at Georgia Pacific, presented “How to Avoid Failing in Our Transformation Journey.” While automation is considered a modern solution for repetitive and predictive tasks, he introduced a third dimension of automation: collective intelligence which combines subject matter expert knowledge (from retiring baby boomers) of processes and functions with the analytics of artificial intelligence. He reassured the audience that AI will not take over manufacturing; that humans will always be involved with manufacturing because AI is an extension of the human and needs human intervention to perform efficiently, effectively, and purposefully. AI was a common thread throughout the speaker sessions including the panel discussion, “Pathway to Technology Adoption.” Moderator Jane Arnold, venture partner at Momenta, challenged panelists to describe manufacturing in seven seconds. “Realized design and engineering” was a common thread from all three panelists, who included Bryan Bauw, COO at Pico MES, Michael Gomez, Ph.D., MSC Industrial Supply Company, and Emma Betters, R&D assistant staff member of the Intelligent Machine Tools Group of the Manufacturing Science Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Out on the show floor, Betters also promoted America’s Cutting Edge (ACE) program, a public-private partnership to reestablish American leadership in the machine tool industry through training and scientific expertise. If you know someone who might benefit from learning about manufacturing at no cost, you may want to direct them to AmericasCuttingEdge.com. AI also was a main topic in the presentation by Will Healy III of Universal Robots to nearly 100 students who participated in the EASTEC’s Bright Minds Student Summit. He emphasized the opportunity to design, program, and work with AI in many aspects of manufacturing including robots, additive manufacturing, and sustainability. Healy engaged the students with a talk that dissected the contents of the students’ lunch with a presentation about how everything was made from the soda machines to the plastic wrap. The high level of enthusiasm and activity at EASTEC 2023 was refreshing and surely a sign of the robust heritage and thriving future of the Northeast’s advanced manufacturing. If you’re eager to experience a regional event like EASTEC 2023, there’s still time: SOUTH-TEC 2023 is October 24-26, in Greenville, South Carolina, and WESTEC 2023, November 7-9, in Long Beach, California. These events are part of the MT Series, which is co-sponsored by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).
From the busy show floor full of next-gen technology to the packed speaker sessions, a congenial and confident vibe flowed through the Northeast’s largest manufacturing event.