A walk through the exiderdome...

I'm here in Monterrey, Mexico, with many other journalists, who have just had a preview of the exiderdome that's scheduled to hit Calgary in a couple of months and then hit Chicago just in time for Siemens' Automation Summit in July. Here's a video that explains the whole concept. exiderdome has been traveling the world since 2005, and is currently here in Monterrey. It goes next to Calgary. According to Tom Varney and Matias Ernst, the official Siemens Corporate exiderdome babysitter, it cost approximately 4+ million Euros to build, and is expected to cost 40-50 million Euros to campaign over its life. "Only Siemens could do this," Varney said. Ernst said that the exiderdome paid for itself when, at its third location, a letter of intent for a steel plant was signed inside the dome. Varney expects that from its first stop in China in 2005 to the end of its US tour, exiderdome will have had over 130,000 visitors. I just got back from my visit to exiderdome. The predecessor, the exider train, was very limited because of its design. This is a three story building that is constructed of a whole bunch of shipping containers. There is no feeling of cramping, or of being pushed into a container. The multimedia hall is simply stunning. It reminds one of the "Circle-360 Vision" exhibits at Disneyland and Disneyworld, before IMAX... even though we were seeing the Spanish language version, my Spanish isn't so rusty that I couldn't understand most of the dialog. After the multimedia introduction, which is customized for every country the exiderdome visits (Ernst says, "This is the way we let people know that in every country Siemens is local."), we were taken on a tour of what Siemens says is 134,000 products. I don't know about that, but there appeared to be at least one of everything Siemens makes on display throughout the building. This is a user group type exhibition that has been freed from the bounds of having to be located in a big hotel, with all the baggage that entails. In Chicago, the exiderdome will be on a barge moored to Navy Pier, while the Automation Summit will be at the nearby Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Avenue, with buses to and fro on a regular basis. One of the cool things Siemens is doing with exiderdome is a little workforce development. "We're using it to do some development of Siemens employees early in their careers," Varney said. In Monterrey, the young Siemens docents were put to the test with a horde of English speaking journalists watching them attempt to use their English language skills-- and they all acquitted themselves excellently well. Muy bien, empleados de Siemens de Mexico. I'd have liked to stay longer and play longer with the Siemens toys. They even had a Siemens PD meter that hadn't changed noticeably from the days when they called it Atlantex and yours truly was selling them. Whoa! That was a long time ago. They had lots of stuff to warm the cockles of an automation professional's heart, from process automation to discrete automation and motion control, motors, drives, software, electrical controls and building automation systems. I strongly recommend a visit to the exiderdome when it comes to the USA. Furthermore, if you can talk Siemens into it, bring your kids!!! What a great way to introduce them to the wonders of automation and technology.