WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA- Instead of reflecting the troubles of the current economic climate, the results of EASTEC’s annual attendee survey suggest that manufacturers are ready to work harder, smarter and invest in their future. EASTEC is an annual East Coast manufacturing event co-sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association and the Association for Manufacturing Technology.

The survey of more than 700 manufacturers revealed that 90% were going to attend EASTEC to see new products and many will be buying. Networking and learning new applications also were priorities.

“EASTEC remains important to manufacturers in this region,” says Kimberly L. Farrugia, senior show manager for the SME, the co-sponsor of EASTEC. “Manufacturers are certainly affected by the economy, but they are responding differently than other sectors. Despite the fact that more than 80% report that customer budgets have decreased, manufacturers are using the economic pressure to become more competitive. Cutting costs, pricing aggressively and lean manufacturing are all critical right now, but companies also are investing in improvements.”

Despite the current economic environment, 21% of respondents are reporting that equipment budgets have increased, 25% have seen no change and 18% report only a slight decrease. The number of manufacturers reporting that they intend to buy equipment at EASTEC also is up slightly over previous years.

The survey indicated that interest in the purchase of cutting tools, measurement and inspection technology and machining centers is significantly higher this year.

The survey also found that given the fact that they will need to replace hundreds of thousands of skilled workers over the next decade, it is not surprising that more than 90% of manufacturers are listing workforce development as an important issue. Continuous improvement also is on their minds with more than 80% of respondents listing it as a “most important” workforce training issue.

EASTEC celebrates its 30-year anniversary on May 19 to 21 at the Eastern States Exposition Grounds in West Springfield, MA, and is expected to draw 14,000 attendees and 600 exhibitors.