Brian Buntz

August 14, 2013

4 Min Read
7 Highlights of the New Chicago Expo Theaters

What do world-class innovators do that sets them apart from their less creative peers? According to Canadian futurist Jim Carroll, they refuse to accept doomsday scenarios. Instead, they view problems as opportunities that can be addressed through tenacity and technology. By contrast, a less-successful, although common, strategy is to retreat from problems and become indecisive when threatened. This may sound obvious, but it is a common strategy for organizations under threat, Carroll observes. A more productive strategy is to believe that the human spirit, armed with rapidly evolving technology, can solve nearly any problem imaginable.  Carroll is scheduled to speak on these matters at this year's MD&M Chicago, which will also debut two free theaters designed to inspire bold thinking that leads to real action.

MD&M Chicago will feature two new theaters. One of them will feature robotics and automation technology while the other will be dedicated to broader technology trends.

A robot from Stäubli

A Preview of the Tech Theater

1. Jim Carroll's opening keynote on September 10 will be one of the highlights of the new Tech Theater, which will also cover hot topics such as 3-D printing, how to address workforce shortages, and how to use technology to maximize business value. A separate Automation & Robotics Theater will showcase similar technological advances and strategies. "Our showfloor theaters will allow attendees to escape from what they have to accomplish for their job to learn about new technology and what actually interests them," says Louise Challis, conference director, North America at UBM Canon.

The FitBit Flex health tracking device will be torn apart for your viewing pleasure at MD&M Chicago.

The FitBit Flex

2. Another highlight of the Tech Theater will be the teardowns of popular consumer devices. Eric Doster of iFixit will perform teardowns of the new Google Nexus 7 tablet and the previous generation Nexus 7. In addition, the FitBit flex tracker (shown on the left) will be torn apart as will the Samsung Galaxy S4.

3. The Tech Theater will also feature a session that will provide advice on attracting and retaining talent. Providing general as well as specific information applicable for plastic manufacturers, the talk will be delivered by Russ Riendeau, PhD, senior partner of East Wing Group. Riendeau is also the co-author of "The CEO's Guide to Talent Acquisition." 

4. Additionally, the Tech Theater will include a session dedicated to the value that military veterans bring to manufacturing environments. Veterans often have a background that makes them well suited to jobs in the manufacturing domain and they can use the GI Bill to help them learn new skills. This goal of bringing veterans to manufacturing is supported by an organization known as Illinois Joining Forces, a program sponsored by the Department of Veterans' Affairs and Department of Military Affairs.

A Preview of the Robotics & Automation Theater

The Robotics & Automation Theater will feature topics ranging from how to repurpose robotics to the trend of using automation technology to reshore manufacturing.

Festo will show off its dragonfly robot at MD&M Chicago.

The Dragonfly robot from Festo

5. One highlight of this theater is a panel discussion titled "Choosing the right robotic integrator" featuring experts from Capital Equipment Industry, Stäubli, Ixmation, Lanco and Yaskawa America. The discussion will center on how to reduce risk in robot engineering projects and the importance of standardization. The panel will also consider the value of service, training and support offerings from robot vendors.

6. A session presented by Sommer Automatic will be dedicated to best practices in designing and building robot end-effectors to optimize them for a specific use case or for a range of applications.

7. A keynote from Mustansir Faizullabhoy, director of engineering at Festo, will detail cutting-edge robotic applications. Festo will also show off their dragonfly robot (pictured on the left), which was modeled after a Paleozoic species. The robot measures 27 by 19 in.

The video below shows the dragonfly in action:

Brian Buntz is the editor-in-chief of MPMN and Qmed. Follow him on Twitter at @brian_buntz

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