Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Frankly Speaking: Automation Fair 2012

Rockwell Automation Fair from the Street Level

I attended Rockwell’s 21st Automation Fair last week in Philadelphia, and since loads of people are asking, I thought I would share a few thoughts on the fair from a street level perspective.  Over the years I have attended all of the shows but one, so I feel relatively well qualified to comment.

First, in spite of Hurricane Sandy and Northeaster Athena, the attendance was strong.  Rockwell published the first day’s attendance at somewhere between 9,000 -10,000, but it definitely seemed like more.  The booths were packed and the people seemed qualified.  The show started at 8:00 AM and unlike many shows that start off slow – the line had already formed at 7:30 in the morning. 

I saw attendees from virtually every corner of the globe.  This shindig really is a world event.

Secondly, I saw my all-time first planning issue with one of these fairs.  They ran out of cookies at lunch on the first day.  While this is a small matter, it is a first.  You can probably tell I am food oriented because I also noticed this year’s fair included massive piles of donuts.

As in the past, there were tons of cool new products introduced at Automation Fair.  The list is online here:

My vote to the coolest new things goes to FRABA, with the introduction of a programmable potentiometer for industrial positioning applications.  Here’s why I am excited.  This thing is a drop in replacement for old time positioning pots, but the guts are a magnetic absolute encoder.  It’s programmable without the need for any tools.  For an end user, it eliminates the need to stock multiple replacement units.  For distributors, it allows a single unit to serve as “service stock” for dozens of customers.  Read about it here:

Finally, the Automation Fair continues to be one of the best automation related showcases in North America.  If you are an automation supplier that doesn’t compete with Rockwell, you should check it out.  For those who do compete with Rockwell, I suggest you build on their model.

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