In addition to an attendee and exhibitor list that knocks most rival manufacturing shows off the charts, this bi-annual industry event tackles manufacturing’s most and pressing concerns and inspiring trends.

There’s a reason the International Manufacturing Trade Show (IMTS) is held every two years. With more than 82,000 buyers and sellers from over 116 countries typically attending-and with more than 1,100 exhibiting companies-IMTS marks the culmination of a serious amount of effort, clout and potential in the manufacturing industry.

Now in its 29th edition, IMTS 2012 will be held September 10-15 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The show comes at a crucial time for manufacturers, when trends such as reshoring are capturing the world’s attention. As Peter Eelman, IMTS vice president, exhibitions and communications, noted about 2010’s IMTS landscape, “Manufacturing professionals were searching for confirmation that manufacturing in the United States is not dying or dead and, in fact, found that it is robust, poised for growth, and clearly understand that investing in the latest technology is the key to being competitive."

Two years later, with reshoring increasingly picking up steam, manufacturers may have to look less hard for evidence of a robust and promising industry.

No matter how reassuring the numbers may be, manufacturers know that there is always room for improvement. That’s why IMTS’s daily educational track presents a series of daily conferences detailing how companies can produce products and services more efficiently; invest in the right technologies; and develop innovative products and processes. For example, conferences such as Sept. 11th’s (Tuesday’s) “ERP Software -ERP Software - How it Enables Businesses to Lean/Green and Prosper in the New Normal Economy will illustrate how lean and green methodologies can coexist. For manufacturing companies fortunate enough to have the means to staff up but find few worthy candidates in the labor pool, check out Sept. 14th’s (Friday’s)“Why Can't I Find Skilled Labor When I Have Jobs Available?” , a session that promises to show you how to train “the under-skilled” without affecting production in an expedited way.

The shortage of skilled manufacturing labor is an issue IMTS is tackling from another angle-by offering theNIMS Student Skills Center at IMTS . This is a free, week-long event will bring students and educators to the show, for the purpose of reinforcing a nationwide increase of STEM education at the secondary and post-secondary level. The effort is meant to inspire technical interest in young people, to get rid of stereotypes of STEM-related careers, and to “bridge the gap between education and industry, so that students are given the skills they need to pursue well-paying, highly technical careers that go beyond imagination,” the National Association of Manufacturers (AMT) says.

Of course, it’s never too early to start planning your trip to IMTS. Attend the MTSedu Webinar:The Top 8 Reasons Exhibitors Need MTInsight's IMTS 2012 App on Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 11 a.m. ET. The MTInsight team will show you eight reasons why the IMTS 2012 app will help exhibitors find customers and market your booth before, during, and after the show. The webinar will also include a live demo of the tools that will be available in the IMTS 2012 application.

Look for me and the rest of theQualityMagazine team at our booth during IMTS week. I look forward to meeting you at the show!