Why You Should Attend Conferences & Which Ones to Put On Your Calendar
Posted by Michael S. on November 16, 2018 in Manufacturer Focus

A new year just started and— if you are like me—you look back and try to analyze what you accomplished and what things fell by the wayside. During my years as a manufacturing manager, I sometimes felt technology around me was moving so fast I might miss something that could have made the operation and business run better.


At the beginning of a new year, I recommend you take a few moments to review ideas and areas where you can catch up on new technologies and other business skills that might not get exposure during normal work days. I often looked to trade shows for the opportunity to catch up and learn about new technologies. Even in today's online and social media world, trade shows can still be useful in running a successful business.


Here are some benefits of attending trade shows or industry conferences:


  • New technology, processes, and systems. See it, test it, and learn it.

  • Get sales leads. You might see exhibitors using parts or products similar to the products you manufacture and connect with them for future sales.

  • Network. Meet suppliers, competitors, and potential customers. See what others in the industry are up to.

  • Safety. See new systems, technologies, and processes. Learn about new standards, requirements, or issues.

  • Regulatory. Learn about recent and upcoming regulatory changes and updates.

  • Certifications. Obtain or learn about industry certifications.


The development and adaption of new technologies has been a whirlwind in the manufacturing sector. No matter what industry you are serving—metal, plastics, concrete, food, wood—new and emerging technologies change the way we operate our businesses. If you are not on the forefront seeing the technologies that are out there, you might fall behind. To keep your business on top, here are a few trade shows that may be worth your time and money.


WestPack & PlasticTech-Anaheim, CA February 5-6
Plastec East 2019-New York, NY June 11-13


AWFS Fair-Las Vegas, NV July 17-20


Food and Beverage
ProFood Tech 2019-Chicago, IL March 26-28

Craft Brewers Conference and Brew Expo-Denver, CO April 8-11
Process Expo- Chicago, IL October 8-11

World of Concrete-Las Vegas, NV January 22-25


Fab Tech-Chicago, IL November 11-14



Houstex 2019-Houston, TX February 26-28
Indiana Safety & Health Conference and Expo-Indianapolis, IN February 26-28

Industry Week M&T Show-Pittsburgh, PA April 1-3
Quality Expo-New York, New York June 11-13
National Safety Council-San Diego, CA September 8-10
Women in Manufacturing Summit
Rapid & TCT-Santa Clara, CA October 9-11



This is by no means a complete list of shows, but it will give you a few ideas that you can research for more detail. 


I also realize that time and money can limit the possibility of attending a conference or expo. There are ways to deal with this. Consider putting conferences and expo attendance into your annual budget. Also, many shows are discounted or free if you register early. Sometimes you can also get hotel and travel discounts if you book early through the show.


As far as time, your most valuable commodity, you need to plan for it. Also, keep in mind that you don't have to attend every expo in person. You can send one or two of your managers, supervisors, or other staff. Just make sure they understand your expectations—ask them to report what they saw, what they think might be helpful to your business, and why. If there are too many shows, consider attending on alternating years.


Hopefully you can see the benefits of attending conferences and expos. I recommend finding the resources to attend one or two. And who knows—maybe we will meet each other at one. 

Michael S. is our Manufacturing guru
I have over 30 years experience in a broad range of manufacturing areas. Starting with an apprenticeship in Germany I’ve worked my way through a variety of positions within the manufacturing field. I got my start as a Tool and Die maker. I next became a supervisor of a class A tool room, then manager of a machining department. I was exposed to lean manufacturing in the mid 90s and adapted the lean philosophy. Loving and teaching the lean approach, I moved on to become a Continuous Improvement manager which led to a job as a manufacturing manager. I joined Acuity in 2015 as their manufacturing expert. I hope to evolve how manufacturers deal with and think about insurance companies, as well as be a resource to my fellow employees – enabling them to better understand the unique needs of manufacturers.

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