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Manufacturing Professionals Eager to Return to In-Person Events, Survey Says

Image: Informa Markets – Engineering MDM West show floor
Almost three-quarters of advanced manufacturing professionals, engineers, and executive management taking part in a survey said they would “most likely” return to live events in the August/September time frame.

I don’t think this will come as a surprise to the PlasticsToday audience, but it’s always good to have a gut instinct validated by data: Manufacturing professionals overwhelmingly are itching to get back to attending in-person trade shows and events. In a survey of nearly 1,000 advanced manufacturing professionals, engineers, and executive management across the plastics, electric vehicle, automation, medical, design engineering, packaging, and processing sectors, Informa Markets – Engineering reports that 93% of respondents are open to returning to in-person events in the August through December 2021 timeframe, with 74% saying they are “most likely” to return. Only 7% said they would not be comfortable attending a live event in 2021.

The survey indicates that the advanced manufacturing community craves connection as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic: 79% of respondents said they are comfortable with attending networking offerings at an in-person event, and more than half are comfortable staying overnight and either driving or flying to the event site.

Full disclosure: Informa Markets – Engineering organizes the Plastec, Expoplast, and PLAST-EX events in North America and produces PlasticsToday.

“The past year has been a rollercoaster, to say the least, but when looking at the silver lining, it was truly inspiring to watch the manufacturing sector rise to the unprecedented challenges at hand,” said John Lewinski, VP/Group Portfolio Leader, Informa Markets – Engineering.

Melissa Magestro, VP/Group Portfolio Leader, Informa Markets – Engineering, expanded: “But in-step with the commendable progress made toward the return to the next normal, such as World of Concrete in Las Vegas in June and the rapid rollout of the vaccine, as event organizers we felt it was important to gain a clear understanding of our tight-knit community’s sentiment around the return to live events before we make any strategic decisions. Not only were the results overwhelmingly positive with regard to attending in-person events in the latter half of the year, but they validated the exhibition industry’s essential place in the advanced manufacturing ecosystem.”

Informa Markets – Engineeringinfographic

Trade shows and conferences are a significant driver of the global economy. In 2019, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research reported that industry events stimulated $101 billion in the United States alone. When the pandemic hit, many event organizers strategically pivoted to virtual events in order to keep industry connections alive. Now, with the United States administering 3.03 million vaccine doses a day leading toward economic recovery, demand for in-person events is on the rise. This rings true within the advanced manufacturing sector especially, where continued industry connection and education are fundamental to overcoming ever-changing supply chain, regulatory, and design challenges that manufacturers, buyers, and suppliers face.

The first opportunity for the plastics industry to meet at a live event this year is coming up in August, when Plastec West returns to Anaheim, CA. Co-located with the premier North American medical manufacturing trade show and conference, MD&M West, along with WestPack, automation event ATX, and design and manufacturing show D&M, Plastec West is scheduled for Aug. 10 to 12, 2021, at the Anaheim Convention Center.

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