Seen & Heard at FABTECH: The Latest in Advanced Manufacturing

Posted by Michele Nichols on Fri, Dec 07, 2018


FABTECH 2018, which spanned 3 exhibit halls and attracted over 30,000 attendees, is North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event—and offered a fascinating and forward-looking view at advanced manufacturing.


Launch President Michele Nichols was invited to present with other industry experts. From conversations with attendees, exhibitors and co-presenters, here’s an inside view at the concerns and market drivers facing US advanced manufacturing.

View more pictures from the show here


Advanced Manufacturing Trends

The first thing to examine is the culture clash. With the shift from traditional welding and subtractive manufacturing to venture capital inflow and investment in automation and additive manufacturing comes an ever-widening spectrum of sophistication and business models. From motorcycles and do-rags to Italian suits, there’s no denying this industry is diversifying, perhaps as a precursor to consolidation. Companies who believe they’re well-known by their customers may be surprised to find how quickly their customer base is changing. Do your marketing tactics reflect this shift? Find out in this blog


“We need to create jobs---no we don’t. We need to create people with the skills needed for our jobs.”

Low unemployment rates exacerbate an industry-wide concern over workforce development. Advanced manufacturing companies will have to work particularly hard on internal communications to retain employees through times of growth, ensuring that everyone has a voice and understands the company direction, not just the front office. Engaged employees are retained and productive employees, and the same resources and tools you use for your external marketing may come in handy in helping your employees feel the impact of their work to the end consumer. 


“At some point, we die.”

Why the workforce crunch? Baby boomers are retiring in mass, and today’s advanced manufacturing often requires math and technical skills that the traditional manufacturing employee base lacks. As high schools have focused on the percent of students attending a four-year school, new grads lack interest in and awareness of the manufacturing career path. As one panelist put it, “the jobs went out in a tsunami, and have come back as raindrops.”


“Local for local”

Onshoring has been gradual but significant—one panelist encouraged attendees to consider “local for local” – moving product lines to the US that are ideal for the US consumer, or near US-based OEM customers. With many manufacturers under margin pressure from tariffs for materials, components and assemblies, we can expect significant change in supply chains.

Improving margins means improving productivity: read more on the 3 drivers of change in advanced manufacturing in part 2 of our FABTECH roundup.


Interested in learning more about structuring your marketing and sales process for these trends? Download the presentation slides: Sales and Marketing Systems for Scalable Growth in Advanced Manufacturing and Capital Equipment.

Get the Presentation Slides!


Could you use an outside perspective on how your team is adapting to these changes in the market? Request a consultation!

Topics: Business Insights