For 24 years, Kurt Zierhut has made IMTS a biennial tradition. He's seen the buildings change, get torn down and rebuilt. He's seen the name change. But perhaps most importantly, Zierhut, the director of electrical engineering at Haas Automation, has watched the slow but undeniable contraction in the size of IMTS.
While many view the manufacturing show's shrinking as an accurate indicator of the industry's health, Zierhut vehemently disagrees, citing a comparison with the computer industry's showcase event, COMDEX.
"That event grew dramatically over a period of 15 years until, in only a few more years, it shrank to nothing," says Zierhut. "However, nobody says the computer industry is contracting. This is because the methods of introducing products and information have changed. We are in an information-intense world. Few people would go to a show that gives them nothing more that they could see on the Web."
Those that still attend make the trip to see something new, on the cutting edge, that...