At the helm: new AMT president knows the ropes--and likes what he sees.

Author:Seeds, Dennis
Position:News & analysis
 
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The new president of AMT-The Association for Manufacturing Technology has paid his dues--he has worked for 25 years in manufacturing operations--and knows when he's seeing something impressive.

That feeling hit Robert K. Simpson last month when he strolled the aisles at IMTS in Chicago.

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"For a person who loves manufacturing, you couldn't help but feel extremely good about what you saw out there," he says.

Simpson on Oct. 7 replaced President John B. Byrd III, who retired after five years at AMT. Simpson, 48, most recently served as corporate vice president and president, Global Plastics Machinery, for Milacron Inc. of Cincinnati. He previously served as president of Siegel-Robert Automotive Inc. in St. Louis and held executive positions with Textron and TRW.

He says IMTS visitors' impressions were only a portion of the total experience. The other part was the passion the exhibitors showed.

"That's what the whole show is about," he notes. Within hours of the show's opening, one exhibitor had sold a large machine. The same exhibitor, Simpson says, brought 300 workers to staff the booth--and wished he had brought more.

"It's good to see what manufacturing is all about: the innovations, the technology," he says.

MTConnect on stage

Technology has more to it than cutting, bending, and software, Simpson explains. IMTS offered the first public demonstration of MT-Connect, an effort launched by the AMT to create an open architecture to integrate devices and systems so they all communicate together in the manufacturing operation.

Simpson says MTConnect will held lower integration and capital costs and make manufacturers competitive.

"The outstanding part of it is how well it has been received in the industry," he adds, "not only here in the United States but in Japan and China.

Simpson says MTConnect hopefully will address a larger concern of the manufacturing industry--the lack of skilled workers--that is striking the nerves of AMT members.

David Dornfeld, Ph.D., professor of manufacturing engineering at University of California, Berkeley, chairs the MTConnect technical advisory group and validated that point at the MTConnect press conference.

Dornfeld said while some companies face a shortage of skilled workers, MTConnect, through its resource management options, could free up the existing workers to do other tasks. For example, if several machining centers were each being monitored by a person, a single person would be able...

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