A Show With Value
H as anyone else noticed that attendance at some of the major quality trade shows has slowly been declining? Events that for decades were "must attend" for quality professionals and exhibitors have slowly become "will attend if it's convenient." Initially, some blamed the attacks of September 11th and the fear or inconvenience of travel. Later, the blame fell on the economy. But really, many exhibitors and vendors just don't believe that they get their money's worth out of trade shows these days. Exhibitors pay a lot of money for booth space and to send equipment and personnel to these shows, and many say that they don't get enough in return to justify the cost. Attendees see the same stuff year in and year out, so there's little motivation for them as well.
Interestingly, as these large shows watch their numbers shrink, one small show is experiencing tremendous growth. The Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference, a little-known 3-D metrology show that has been around for almost 25 years, has seen about 15- to 20-percent growth in the past two years. Perhaps what makes this show so different is the overall atmosphere. Rather than a venue for exhibitors to display their products to uninvolved, glassy-eyed attendees who wander the aisles collecting as much swag as they can stuff into their free CMSC tote bags, it's a place where people go to talk to vendors and get answers to 3-D metrology problems.
The CMSC is the only show especially for 3-D measurement solutions, particularly those used for noncontact, large-scale, or shop-floor measurement. The accuracy of these technologies has been growing by leaps and bounds, enabling manufacturers to move away from slower, touch-probe, lab-bound coordinate measurement machines for some applications. The CMSC features the latest technology in photogrammetry, laser trackers, structured-light scanning, digital assembly, laser radar, optical 3-D, and the software that pulls it all together. What sets this show apart and accounts for some of its growth is that exhibitors work with attendees and—no kidding—with each other to come up with unique solutions to industry problems.
Sometimes a single technology, say photogrammetry, just won't do the trick. You might need to add coherent laser radar and a theodolite to accomplish a complex task. But how do those technologies work together? How are the data combined? What are the issues involved? Providing answers to these questions not only helps attendees, it also opens up marketing opportunities for vendors who otherwise are competitors. If vendor A and vendor B can find a solution to a problem using equipment from each, everyone wins.
The quality of the applications-oriented white papers also makes the CMSC stand out. These are typically in-depth discussions of how a problem was solved using a particular technology or a mix of technologies. Some of the presentations are from vendors, but many are from expert metrologists in the aerospace and automotive industries, and in government agencies.
For the past three years, Quality Digest has expanded our partnership with the CMSC. To get an idea of what technologies will be featured at this year's CMSC, July 16–20, in Reno, Nevada, read "CMSC Roundup," beginning on page 20.
We also invite you to download sample articles of the Journal of the CMSC , published by Quality Digest for the CMSC. You can find these at www.qualitydigest.com/pdfs/CMSC1.pdf, or CMSC2.pdf, or CMSC3.pdf .