WESTEC 2019 Highlights Manufacturing Technology, Economic, & Market Trends
Category: Events • Oct 9, 2019
By Kathy Keyes Webster, AMT Exhibitions Content Manager – Correspondence
Positive Response to New Long Beach location
Thousands of manufacturers looking for new ideas attended WESTEC 2019, September 24-26, in its new location, the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. Boasting large exhibit halls, waterfront views, networking enclaves, and a variety of nearby restaurants, the new venue naturally created an atmosphere for people to connect, be inspired, and take away practical advice for their manufacturing business.
Produced by SME and AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, WESTEC is one of the regional events in the Manufacturing Technology Series that is tailored to each area’s specific needs. WESTEC focuses on solutions for the area’s vibrant aerospace, medical, automotive, and oil industries.
For more than 40 years, downtown Los Angeles had been home to WESTEC. The decision to move WESTEC to Long Beach was the result of research by AMT that found the geographic center of manufacturing is shifting encompassing more counties. The four counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and Riverside account for 49 percent of all the advanced manufacturing establishments in California, Arizona, and Nevada. In addition to the research, the location of Long Beach offers attendees lower expenses (hotel, parking, dining) and is more accessible for both attendees and exhibitors.
During the opening at WESTEC, Peter Eelman, AMT VP and CXO stated, “AMT has a long history of partnering with SME. With emerging technologies being adopted at an ever-increasing rate, it’s more important than ever to connect manufacturers to the most advanced technology especially in high-growth manufacturing areas like Southern California.” Peter also remarked, “WESTEC 2019 attracted a number of former exhibitors and inspired quite a few new companies to exhibit. Attendees and exhibitors were energized about interacting with the new technology on display at WESTEC 2019.”
Great Attendee Response
Longtime WESTEC attendee James Kruger, General Manager of Gorlitz Sewer & Drain, Inc., in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., said, “I’m really glad WESTEC moved to Long Beach. Not only is there great technology on display, but Long Beach is much easier to navigate than downtown Los Angeles. There is a great selection of restaurants within walking distance of the venue as well as evening entertainment.”
Another attendee, Terry Rogers, VP Operations at DASCO Engineering Corporation of Torrance, Calif., was thrilled to see larger machines on display than in the past. “As a supplier of machined titanium components for the aerospace industry, it’s crucial we get hands-on experience and have the chance to compare products.”
Presentations, Keynotes, Workshops, and Knowledge Bars
Practical Advice and Inspiration for Every Manufacturer
In addition to demonstrations of advanced technology in the exhibit hall, WESTEC featured dozens of complimentary educational presentations including keynote addresses, technology workshops, and interactive knowledge bars. Highlights from WESTEC’s keynote presentations included:
Tom Wujec, Chief Disruptor at Autodesk and TED Talk presenter, discussed The Future of Making predicting that more consumer goods and manufactured products will be made in smaller, customized batches and embedded with transmitters for even more customization. He pointed out that at first technology moves slowly and then suddenly, cautioning manufacturers that “Success in the past will be a learning disability in the future,” and advising listeners to “have an open mindset to identify your firm’s core skills within the market.”
Brian Beaulieu, CEO, ITR Economics, shared an Economic Outlook for Manufacturing Through 2023 by looking at leading economic indicators, consumer and business trends, the disruption of normal trade flows, but not politics. He noted U.S. manufacturing is in a shallow slump, which ITR predicted two years ago. He anticipates this retraction will last through the first quarter of 2020, perhaps into the second quarter. He recommended that manufacturers invest in capital purchases beginning mid-2020 to take advantage of the next expansion period, which he anticipates will be mid-2020 through 2021.
Fredi Lajvardi presented Embracing New Technology, Empowering Teams: How Creativity and Teamwork Can Inspire Your Manufacturing Process, describing how he led an unlikely group of Latino students from an inner-city, Title 1 Phoenix high school to win first prize in a collegiate-level, underwater robotics competition—beating MIT and Virginia Tech teams. The major motion picture, Spare Parts, by Lions Gate Entertainment documents Lajvardi’s journey and stars George Lopez, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Marisa Tomei. His tips to lead high-performance teams include:
- Be resourceful
- Define objectives to determine needs
- Talk out different points of view
- Encourage team members to focus on shared goals rather than shortcomings and circumstances.
WESTEC exhibitor Paul Van Metre, President of ProShop in Bellingham, Wash., said his team appreciated the event’s proximity to reasonable hotels, a variety of restaurants, and shoreline. But most importantly, “We connected with quite a number of show visitors and will follow up with many of them.” ProShop is an ERP system for CNC shops. A former machinist, Paul and his colleagues developed ProShop to help them improve operations and efficiencies in their own CNC company. The software became so popular, they sold their CNC shop and now focus exclusively on the ERP system.
Kays Engineering, Inc., President Ed Kays, an exhibitor from Marshall, Mo., who displays at both WESTEC and SOUTHTEC said, “We absolutely love the Long Beach location for its reach among manufacturers in the western United States focused on the defense industry.”
More than 250 local students attended WESTEC 2019 by way of the Student Summit Event Series, an industry-led initiative on a mission to inspire high school students to pursue manufacturing careers. Before exploring the show floor, students participated in a hands-on Racing Challenge provided by Ten80 Education, a national developer of STEM competitions and curriculum. The challenge presented students with modular, data-driven tasks that included 3D CAD design and product testing with an emphasis on aerodynamics and consumption of energy and materials.
“The students’ enthusiasm during the challenge was contagious. They saw the technologies on display at WESTEC, conducted electromechanical experiments, learned about the manufacturing R&D process, and they had a blast doing it,” said AMT Director of Education Catherine Ross who supported the challenge. Ross also spoke on the WESTEC panel, How Manufacturers Can Tackle the Skills Gap, and encouraged employers to create talent ecosystems through structured, on-the-job training and private-public partnerships with local education institutions.
Making Connections in Long Beach
“From the buzz on the show floor and the inspiring talks in the SME Zone to the exhibitors presenting their latest technology, attendees and suppliers connected and talked face to face throughout all three days of the show,” says Bonnie Gurney, AMT Director – Industry Partnerships. “WESTEC is evolving along with the industry and continues to support the region’s manufacturers with solutions and knowledge to be competitive.”