ANN ARBOR, MI-Attendance surged at the recent Automate 2011 Show and Conference in Chicago (March 21-24) as three major trade associations combined to lift interest in automation among leading companies from the United States and abroad, according to the sponsors.

A total of 7,945 confirmed participants were scanned at the show, the largest audience in more than a decade, said Jeff Burnstein, president of the Automation Technologies Council (ATC), and the parent group for the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the Automated Imaging Association (AIA), and the Motion Control Association (MCA), primary sponsors of Automate 2011.

"Based on feedback from participants, Automate 2011 successfully hit the target," Burnstein says. "We wanted to reach users and potential users in a wide range of industries who were interested in robots, machine vision, motion control and related automation technologies and solutions, and we accomplished that."

Burnstein said that the show, formerly known as the International Robots, Vision, and Motion Control Show, recorded its largest attendance in a decade. "Our collocation with ProMat brought in a large number of people from the warehousing and logistics industries which added an important element to this year's event.

Automate 2011 attracted visitors from 28 countries and 45 states, with a large concentration from the Midwest. The automotive, electronics, medical device, fabricated metals, food and beverage, consumer goods, aerospace and plastics industries sent the most visitors.

Nearly 90% of the visitors play a role in the automation purchasing decision at their organization. Nearly 40% of the audience identified themselves as end users of automation, with system integrators accounting for another 20%.

About a quarter of the visitors either currently have a funded project or expect to have one in the next year.

RIA, AIA, and MCA represent more than 600 companies from 30 nations. The Automate 2011 show traces its roots back to 1977 when the first ROBOTS show sponsored by RIA was held.