We are going to the Fair-- #AF2012 Automation Fair @ROK #manufacturing #pauto

In the Middle Ages, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, commerce got started again at large meetings that they called fairs. The huge German manufacturing and automation show, Hanover Messe (Hanover Fair) is a direct descendant of these mercantile fairs-- from which many of the great cities of Europe grew.

There's a direct descendant of these fairs in North America, too. It is called Rockwell's Automation Fair, and it is the largest gathering of automation end users (albeit only Rockwell and its Solution Partners as vendor attendees) in North America. It has held that title since 2005. It is larger than the old ISA Expo. It is larger than the old National Manufacturing Week. It is one of (but not the only) the reasons those shows have departed this vale.

On Monday and Tuesday, Rockwell runs three partially concurrent specialty conferences. Starting on Monday, the Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) meets. This is Rockwell's process user group meeting and they are expecting around 500 end user attendees. That's a very decent turnout considering the storm, and certainly puts paid to anybody who still thinks Rockwell doesn't have a DCS-type offering.

On Tuesday, Rockwell runs a Safety Automation Forum, which deals with workplace safety, predominantly in the discrete manufacturing space.

Concurrently, on Tuesday morning, they run a session called Manufacturing Perspectives for analysts and media. We get treated to a state of the world economy discussion, a state of the company message from Keith Nosbusch, and other interesting discussions. Unfortunately, since I can't be in two places at once, I'm going to mostly miss MP this year.

Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, the actual Fair opens with exhibits covering a huge room in the Philadelphia Convention Center from ROK and its solution partners.

Threaded through the entire week are short courses, discussions, tutorials, hands-on sessions and enough knowledge and learning to make even the crustiest boss happy he sent you here.

So, heigh ho! heigh ho! It's off to the Fair we go!