Automate 2015

Back before I got into the integration and machine building business, I worked for a couple of different controls distributors/manufacturer’s representatives. Prior to the invention of the internet by Al Gore, industrial trade shows were the best way for vendors and manufacturers to get their products in front of lots of customers at the same time.

My first job out of college was with Stephenson Controls in Knoxville, TN. Stephenson had a broad array of products including Omron, Eagle Signal (which at the time had a major PLC line), Pepperl+Fuchs, Idec, Fuji and others. We acted as a distributor, a manufacturer’s rep and an integrator/solutions provider. We also exhibited at no less than 6 trade shows every year, just within Tennessee. After every trade show I could spend weeks and months following up on the leads that were generated.

As online capabilities became more refined, trade shows began to shrink and disappear. The ISOA (Industrial Shows of America) events were discontinued during the 1990s, mostly because of Al Gore.

My next job after Stephenson was for an Allen-Bradley distributor. This was when I first attended the Automation Fair. I have attended this event six or seven times since that time, and it seems to have gotten smaller every time I have attended. While it is a good event to see the latest from A-B and its partners, it is not as comprehensive as some of the old pre-www shows.

This next year I plan on attending Automate, a biannual event. This will be my first time attending a show other than the Automation Fair since 2003, when I exhibited the Smartbench in Greenville, SC. I have even considered setting up a booth there to showcase my book, the SmartBench and a prototype leak tester I am building. I doubt I will do more than attend though, since as I mentioned last week I am already concerned about my existing workload for next year. Anyway, more about the show here: (

About the Event: Automate is the largest solutions-based showcase of automation technologies in North America. Formerly the International Robots, Vision & Motion Control Show which dates back to 1977, Automate now demonstrates the full spectrum of automation technologies and solutions for a broad array of industries. The show is held once every two years.

Show Organizer: Association for Advancing Automation (A3) and its trade associations, the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), AIA – the global association for vision and imaging, and the Motion Control Association (MCA)

Show Dates: March 23-26, 2015

Show Hours:
Monday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Wednesday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Thursday: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Show Location: McCormick Place North, Chicago, Illinois, USA

This appears to be a very broad show with a lot of different vendors and topics covered. Trade shows are a great place to network and see all of the latest and greatest in one place. The show is free (other than your time and lodging/travel), and registering also gives access to the ProMat show (Material Handling and Logistics) in the same facility. Hope to see you there!


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.

1 Comment on “Automate 2015

  1. Automate does seem to be the only big automation show, but I am only able to go to local shows. OK, we don’t really have any automation shows in Silicon Valley, but at times (say every other years) I like to show up at Photonics West, Semicon West, or the Embedded Systems Conference.

    I have found some good work related info at these shows, but less and less as they seem to shrink a bit each year.