Well, I'm back from Utah, having been submerged in helping to bring off another in our annual series of AutomationXchange meetings.
Why do I, my colleagues, buying teams from end-user and machine builder companies, and a large number of solution providers take four days in August in Park City, Utah? Because it is where we can devote large blocks of time to matchmaking between buyers and sellers. We help introduce new products and technologies to buyers with funded projects they're doing. We help put influential buyers in the face of solution providers so they can network and more importantly, give direct feedback to their suppliers.
Every year, new relationships are born, and new applications and activities are started. One year, an end user customer with what both he and the supplier believed was a long-standing very tight relationship walked into his meeting with that supplier, dropped his jaw and said, "I didn't know you made something like that. I have an RFQ out for that right now!"
You can listen to a buyer's first person perspective in this video: A First-Person Perspective.
What makes AutomationXchange different? In the mid 1990s I served on the ISA Conference and Exhibits Committee, so I know a bunch about how a major tradeshow is put on. One of the problems that, I believe, led directly to the death of the ISA Show was that in the early 1990s, senior buying influences at end user companies stopped coming to trade shows. They were too busy, they were unwilling to expose themselves to vendors, there were lots of reasons. When the suppliers realized that the buyers weren't coming, there was no longer a business case for going to the ISA Show. The large automation vendors, over the course of the 1990s and 2000s, eventually pulled out of the show.
What we did, in partnership with VerticalXchange, is to skip all the fluff parts of the show, and just concentrate on bringing senior buyers and solution providers together in a neutral, concentrated framework away from their everyday demands. We facilitate the meetings, but they are private, between buyers and sellers, and all we do is collect the metrics-- each side is asked to rate the meeting on several axes.
It's a hard meeting to put together, but it is eminently well worth it for us, for the buyers who come, and for the solution providers who come to meet them.
But don't just believe me. Here are some things that the buyers in this and past conferences have told us when we asked them what was the most important thing for them about AutomationXchange.
“The beauty is in a one day focused set of sessions I’ve been able to cover a really broad piece of technology.”
- Jeff Gott, Director, Process Control, Freeport McMoRan
“If you’re doing anything in the machine control automation world this is a really good forum to get outside your standard box.”
- Brad Froemke, Mechanical Engineer, Cascade Microtech
“Typically I only get senior management people to come and react to me when I’ve got serious problems. So this is a nice way where this isn’t serious problems, this is investigation. This is where I can talk to senior people and the amount of time that this actually saves you in the long run is immeasurable.”
- Tom Wolcott, Electrical Engineering Manager, Formax
“Instead of having to call supplier after supplier after supplier, everything is pretty much gathered together in one place.”
- Les Mammen, Automation Team Manager, A&B Process
“You’ve got information here that I maybe never would have gotten sitting in my office because I wouldn’t have met with the vendors.”
- Luke Titel, Controls Engineering Manager, Alkar-RapidPak
“The best thing [about AX] is getting to the level of customers that are here, and having access to talk about their issues without the distractions of an office setting”
- Todd Lucey, GM, Endress & Hauser
“You’ve taken the most difficult part of acquiring new contacts to high level organizations out of the equation”
- Karen Armstrong, Director of Sales,Advantech
“I met with some suppliers we haven’t dealt with in the past that have some things to offer that we will definitely follow up on.”
- Terry McDonald, Global Automation Manager,Abbot Labs
“One-on-one time to go into detail … and ask them for features that my people in the field would like to see.”
- Jeff Waufle, IT Systems Supervisor,Las Vegas Valley Water District
“Looked at a larger engagement footprint versus what we are doing today or what we’ve talked about in the past.”
- Jerry Gipson, Process Automation Engineering Group Leader,The Dow Chemical Company
“You could never get this amount of vendor information in an office setting. Talking to these vendors has changed my way of thinking about how we address our automation systems. We have been using Wonderware for 15 years but never knew they extended their offerings in the MES area (before this meeting)."
- Chuck Sapienza, Abbott Laboratories
“Every one of these (meetings) has hit perfectly, they all have addressed my specific needs!”
- Doug Springer,Gerber Products/Novartis
“The vendors had executive management, technical, and regional representation. This was a perfect mix and allowed them to thoroughly address my needs. I was able to solicit competitive quotes for specific projects and compare vendors.”
- Brian Hendel,Bausch & Lomb
“Control’s editorial staff’s involvement allowed us to find solutions that closely matched our needs”
-- Jeff Berven,Koch Materials
“Vendors take the information the editorial staff gives them about my needs, which allows them to come prepared to each of my meetings.
- Doug Springer, Gerber Products
“The editors introduced me to organizations at AutomationXchange that had expertise in areas that I need.”
-- Pete Atkinson, Boehringer Ingelheim
“This has changed my thinking about the way we address our automation systems”
-- Chuck Sapienza, Abbott Labs
“I don’t get an opportunity to meet with vendors in my office, I’m simply too busy to talk to vendors”
-- Doug Springer, Gerber Foods
“An extraordinary environment”
-- Jeff Berven, Koch Materials
“What surprised me most was that some of my current vendors offered products that I didn’t know about”
-- John Davidson,Bristol-Myers Squibb
“I simply don’t have time in my office to accomplish what I have accomplished here at AutomationXchange because I am immune to sales calls in my office”
-- Jeff Berven, Koch Materials
“Truly beneficial shift in the way we will do business”
-- Dave Siever, Air Liquide
“Excellent tool to use on an annual basis”
-- Pete Atkinson, Boehringer Ingelheim
So, if you are a buyer of automation, instrumentation and control systems at an end-user or a machine-builder company, or a system integrator or solution provider to those buyers, check out AutomationXchange for next year. If you want to attend, contact Andy Wuebben (email@example.com) for all the details.