Elizabeth Engler Modic, Editor emodic@gie.net

It started in 1927 in Cleveland, Ohio – The National Machine Tool Builders’ Exposition – hosting 12,000 attendees to view 428 machines under power. As the show and industry changed, so did its name and the technology on display. The third time the event was held, 1935 in Cleveland, it was The Machine Tool Show, retaining that name when relocated to Chicago and resumed after World War II in 1947.

By 1960 it was called the Machine Tool Exposition. In 1972, it became The International Machine Tool Show, yet it wasn’t until 1990 that the name was changed to the IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show, reflecting the changing industry and the broader scope of exhibits.

New technology dominated this years’ show – Makino’s Athena which, according to the company, is the world’s first talking and thinking machine tool; QVI’s Turncheck 6-30m measurement system; and 3D Systems and GF Machining Solutions’ DMP Factory 500 metal 3D printing system – but what was most prominent across all the halls was automation alongside data analytics solutions.

While data has the potential to offer great insight to what’s happening on a shop floor, many owners are overwhelmed by the volume and where to start. So, as attendees were shopping for advanced machine tools, they were also looking for companies to be their solution-providers – those that could connect the dots for them from the machine tool to automation and data collection. They were looking for how to increase their competitiveness with more automated workflow and reduced cycle time, with an approach to data aggregation and analytics that captures, cleanses, and analyzes machine data in a useful way for their processes.

There definitely wasn’t a shortage of solution providers at this years’ show, because nearly everyone seems to be a software company in some way or another. From the machine controls, components, and accessories to the machines, cutting tools, and metrology equipment, companies are making sure their products connect seamlessly in the world of data collection so shops can pull, analyze, and make sense of their operations from spindle through data analytics.