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Burgeoning shows are signs of a return to normalcy

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“Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends. We’re so glad you could attend. Come inside, come inside.”

Those are the opening lyrics from Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s “Karn Evil 9,” which later implore that you’ve got to see the show (because) it’s a dynamo. The song is a staple of classic rock and one that I can’t get out of my head as the year’s industry trade shows draw near.

The AWFS fair, which runs July 19-22 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is shaping up as one of the biggest in recent memory. As we reported last month, producers are expecting a sold-out show floor and more than 15,000 attendees.

To accommodate exhibitor demand, the show is expanding to three halls at the convention center.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of hoopla surrounding Ligna, which runs May 22-26 in Hannover, Germany.

Organized by Deutsche Messe and the German Woodworking Machinery Manufacturers’ Association, Ligna is expected to draw 93,000 visitors, 1,500 exhibitors from 49 nations, and occupy 1,377,700 sq. ft. That’s about 24 football fields, with the end zones included, for comparison.

“Given the current business climate in the wood industry, the growing wave of digitalization and our revamped thematic layout, we are looking forward to a very successful Ligna this year,” show director Christian Pfeiffer said in a statement.

“The show has experienced the first significant rise in booked space in several years and we have already outstripped the final figures for the most recent stating of Ligna, in 2015.”

Both shows are promoting Industry 4.0, the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. The idea is that computers and automation will come together in an entirely new way, with robotics connected remotely to computer systems equipped with machine-learning algorithms that can learn and control the robotics with very little input from human operators.

You’ll also learn about “smart” factories and the Internet of Things, a concept of connecting any device to the Internet.

Both shows are benefiting from a healthy economy. These very well be the good ol’ days that we yearned for during the Great Recession. Maybe that’s hard to believe for some, but there’s no surer sign of a growing industry than a robust trade show.

So while Germany might be farfetched given the calendar, I urge you to attend AWFS. Roll up, as the song goes, and see the show.

About the cover

Before the emails start pouring in, asking about the machine on the cover, I’ll tell you what we know.

Hal Moore, owner of Saranac Hollow Woodworking (featured on Page 34), is using an “American” band saw. Moore believes the saw was manufactured in the 1920s, though we couldn’t find a nameplate.

Safe to say it was before advancements in dust collection.

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue.

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