WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s a bit of a different vibe at the Eastern States Exposition this week with the largest manufacturing tech conference in the Northeast descending on the fairgrounds.
Machining in the Mallary Complex, manufacturing companies from across the country gathering for a three-day conference at the Eastern States Exposition showing off the latest tech that makes your stuff.
From medical to aerospace, defense and automotive… you name it. It’s made here in Massachusetts, adding up to about 10-percent of the state’s GDP. It’s a massive industry, standing at a crossroads.
“I believe we are at the cusp of what I call the second industrial revolution. COVID taught us the fragility of our supply chain that we need to do more in the United States,” said Robert Willig, CEO of SME.
The buzzword for this event and displayed all over the show floor is automation. It’s revolutionizing the industry, making it unrecognizable to the shops of the 20th century.
“Your idea of a machine shop in the past is not what they are doing now. It’s a lot cleaner atmosphere in there. It’s a lot more technical, a lot more automation portion of it so it’s a lot more programming and setup,” said Tony Ouimet from Marubeni Citizen-Cincom in Agawam.
The biggest question surrounding this automation, though, is it’s effect on labor. The overwhelming sentiment was that automation is displacing people but it is taking jobs that are miserable anyways, like fetching products from inventory and in the process adding jobs that are more pleasant and pay better.
“The more that you have automation in manufacturing technologies, if something goes down you have to have someone to get it back up again because you can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars a day,” said Michelle James, marketing manager for Modula.
To see it all for yourself, head down to EASTEC at the Eastern States Exposition Wednesday or Thursday.