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Manufacturing finds itself in bullish mood.

Despite the transient impact of last fall's hurricane season, the North American manufacturing revival has been chalking up continued gains. Durable goods output and backlogs are up, capacity utilization by manufacturers of durable goods has recovered, many indices show confidence in the future, and economic experts at our forecasting conference expressed confidence that demand for advanced manufacturing technology equipment will expand in the coming year.

There's no denying that North American manufacturers face challenges. Health care and pension costs, taxes, regulatory burdens, and excessive legal costs all hurt our competitiveness. Foreign trade rules are often unfair. Yet we continue to see the potential for substantial growth.

At least four key factors underlie today's manufacturing revival. Higher shipping and energy costs make it increasingly more cost effective to manufacture complex and costly items in North America. Supply chain issues can also tip the balance to local manufacture.

Rising U.S. manufacturing productivity and ongoing currency revaluations by the Chinese government are helping the U.S. compete against China in the durable goods arena. And stepped-up equipment purchases to replace aging machines--as well as expanded capacity--both enhance U.S. competitiveness and support the manufacturing technology industry.

Among successful manufacturing companies, we typically find these common traits:

* Embracing technology and, in effect, revitalizing the U.S. technology infrastructure;

* Becoming global competitors--a necessity to survive in the ever-more-global economy;

* Leveraging costs; and

* Actively engaging government at the state, local, and federal levels.

The pace and scope of the current manufacturing revival is likely to continue as flexible and quality-conscious North American manufacturers find they can compete. A flatter manufacturing world brings new competitors, but a more level playing field allows evenly matched competition. The challenge in the New Year is to work to ensure that our government enacts fair and balanced laws and policies.

The bullish mood in American manufacturing is clear as we prepare for the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). The interest and excitement being generated by this year's IMTS (September 6-13, at Chicago's McCormick Place) expands on the excitement felt during IMTS 2004. We found the tempo at IMTS 2004 to be upbeat and positive. Serious shoppers were back with many machines sold on the exhibit floor. We found strong interest existed in replacing older equipment with new, more productive equipment.

Every indication is that IMTS 2006 will help advance the manufacturing revival. As you might expect, exhibitor space is rapidly selling out. In its exhibits and Emerging Technology Center, IMTS gives manufacturers an unparalleled opportunity for side-by-side comparison-shopping for the latest advancements in manufacturing technology and the means to enhance productivity cost-effectively while advancing their competitiveness.

Simultaneously, IMTS will showcase career opportunities in manufacturing technology for thousands of students and educators through its groundbreaking Student Summit. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers will also present related technical conferences.

Centrally located in Chicago, IMTS is readily accessible to local, national, and international visitors. For complete information and a preview of the show, go to We look forward to seeing you at IMTS 2006 this September and to helping you advance your company.

By John B. Byrd III


AMT--The Association For Manufacturing Technology
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Title Annotation:International Manufacturing Technology Show
Author:Byrd, John B., III
Publication:Tooling & Production
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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