As I write this, FABTECH 2011 is about to close. For four days the floor has been full of some serious buyers. In the near-term, capital spending in metal fabrication is heading upward, with no sign of abating.
The first three days alone had more than 31,000 visitors. Dozens of attendees have told me that business continues to be brisk. Some are busier than others, but all are survivors of a serious downturn—and they've gotten smart. Companies such as M A Metal Co., in Edinburgh, Ind., have diversified strategically. M A Metal had focused mainly on stamping, but now the metal manufacturer offers significant fabrication capability, including laser cutting, bending, and even advanced rolling, including cone rolling.
Effective manufacturing has been a mantra. Machine tools at this year's FABTECH don't just cut or bend faster, the move faster between those bends and cuts, and between jobs. For today's flexible manufacturers, a high-powered machine that takes forever and a day to set up doesn't have as much value as a slower machine that can quickly change over between jobs.