The sixth-annual Assembly Show's third and final day ended Thursday, capping the showcase for the latest manufacturing technology and products.

Industry 4.0 and automation were common themes across the show floor, as leaders hosted educational sessions providing tips towards digital transformation, and exhibitors competed to define exactly how Industry 4.0 and other trends will play out on the factory floor.

Rodney Rusk, i4.0 business leader at Bosch Rexroth, said many manufacturers are confused about how to approach I4.0. His comments introduced an education session entitled “Industry 4.0 – Key Features for a Successful Digital Transformation.” He recounted common questions such as how to transition from manual data collection to automatic data collection, and said the muddled explanations behind many industry buzzwords often create confusion in every market segment, from food and beverage, to packaging to automotive and aerospace. His then detailed several steps and lessons learned by Bosch as it digitally transformed its business over the past several years. Rusk’s advice included tips for picking software, among other topics, such that it needs to offer scalability, or the ability to add packets later. It also needs to be flexible. In other words, it needs to interface with all of the organization's other automation and data aggregation software.

On the show floor, Robert Plumridge, leak application specialist with Cincinnati Test Systems and Sciemetric, echoed Rusk’s comments regarding flexibility. Smartphones and tablets have created an everyday expectation for functionality and ease-of-use. In the same way that we as consumers are irritated if an application isn’t available on both Android and Apple iOS, manufacturers expect industrial software platforms to work with each other. “We expect universality,” he said. “People expect the same usability of a smartphone.”

FasTest Territory Sales Manager Adam Nash commented that customers want to automate, but they must sort through the buzzwords to find direction. “People want to streamline their processes,” he said.

The three-day event offered a dynamic educational program, and the largest exhibit hall in the history of the event offering hundreds of new products and several exciting networking events all with the focus on the future of manufacturing.

The Assembly Show experienced a 14.5% increase in total registrations, featuring attendees from all 50 states and 42 countries.

The exhibit hall floor had 318 exhibitors occupying 88,000 net square feet, a 15% increase over the 2017 event. Exhibitors responded with over 75% of the 2018 show exhibitors renewing booth space on-site for the 2019 Show. Preceding the keynote was the presentation of the Plant of the Year Award to Ford Motor Co.'s Van Dyke facility in Sterling Heights, MI.

Cincinnati Test Systems won first place in the New Product Awards for its QualityWorX CTS DataHub a system that collects leak testing data. Second place was presented to DEPRAG for its Adaptive DFS, an automated system which installs flow-drill screws; and third place to Nordson EFD for their Film-Pak, a collapsible adhesive cartridge which reduces waste. The 12 products were chosen by the editors of Assembly magazine and voted on by the attendees at the Show.

The 2019 Assembly Show will be held concurrently with the Quality Show from Oct. 22-24 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.

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