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Trade shows are great learning opportunities

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Tech Talk by Peter Mate
Peter Mate is co-owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info email peterm@planitcanada.ca

Keeping up to date with technology is pretty straightforward.
We get update notices, email updates, follow companies on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. But did you ever have someone fill you in on an App, a software or website that is fantastic that you didn’t know about? I have. I think to myself: “I wish I found this sooner!”
Search engines and the internet are great for helping you find something you are looking for, but you need to know what you’re looking for.
This phenomenon is the reason for shopping malls, flyers, advertisements, etc. The same is true with a showroom.
Consumers buy what they see and know. If you don’t display some sort of soft close doors in your showroom, you’ll likely sell a lot less than if you did have them on display. Maybe some consumers would walk in to your showroom not looking for soft close hinges, but if they see them and try them, there’s a good chance they’ll end up buying them for their new kitchen.
This same concept applies to a trade show.
WMS 2013 in Toronto, Ont. is just around the corner and it’s a great opportunity to get updated on technology in a short time. Walking a show floor will uncover things that you have never thought to search online. It’s a great opportunity to see where the industry is going and what the new technology trends are.
New types of machinery are continuously being unveiled. New CNCs with auto load, auto labeling, auto this and that. New edge banding technology that makes sticky glue pods a thing of the past. The future is coming and things are evolving whether we accept that or not.
Skipping trade shows and staying in the shop you see every day is a huge missed opportunity.
Robotics is more and more common in our industry. Material handling systems and robotic arms are being used today and not only by the large shops. Skilled shop labour is a constant issue. While there are some organizations trying to address the shortage, the reality is that shops need to find better ways to utilize the precious staff they currently have and leave the mundane tasks to machines and software. On the software front, you can expect to see some ground breaking things at WMS 2013.
A virtual showroom that allows you to display unlimited kitchens at a 1 to 1 scale in full 3D. This groundbreaking technology has been displayed at KBIS 2012 and at an equivalent Australian show. At both shows, it made national TV on home improvement channels.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is also present and growing in our manufacturing industries. It’s commonly used in many industries including retail stores. The sensors at the exit doors sound if an item’s RFID tag is not deactivated. You can clearly see these at bookstores in books. They look like a square label with metal type wiring. These tags are deactivated at the cash when paying. If you notice the cashier moving the item over a certain area of the cash counter, it’s because the RFID writer is below that counter top area. This technology will be displayed at WMS 2013.
With so much information and new technologies, a visit to trade events is a great investment of your time. I have the privilege of being in different shops all the time. I work with many great partners and have access to information on new technologies continuously during the year. Knowledge is very powerful. WMS 2013 is a good opportunity for shop owners to get up to speed on current trends, technologies and machinery. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle! 

Peter Mate is co-owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info, email peterm@planitcanada.ca or visit

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