Looking forward to the rescheduled CAMX 2017

Leading the charge vs. follow those who lead the charge. 

When Hurricane Irma blew through Florida on Sept. 11, uncertainty about the path of the storm effectively shut down the entire state, forcing millions of people to flee, relocate and otherwise seek shelter from the storm. All normal activity was put on hold for several days before and after the storm blew through.

One of the casualties of the storm was CAMX 2017, scheduled for Sept. 11-14 in Orlando. Fortunately, CAMX was rescheduled, and will now take place Dec. 12-14, at the same venue, the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Which is good, because a cancelled CAMX this year could have been a tough blow to the composites industry.

CAMX has become critically important for several reasons. First, North America is the world’s largest market for composite parts and structures. There is a level of composites manufacturing activity here that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world.

Second, CAMX is North America’s largest composites conference and exhibition. As such, it represents the single best venue on this continent in which ideas, products and technologies for the design, tooling and fabrication of composites can be shared on a mass scale. This is not to say that CAMX is the world’s largest composites exhibition — that title, of course, belongs to JEC World, held in Paris every spring. But if you don’t live in Europe, getting to JEC each year is not always feasible. In fact, the number of North Americans that attend JEC’s annual Paris event tends to be relatively small.

Third — and perhaps most importantly — the dynamic, fast-changing nature of composite materials and manufacturing elevates the importance of annual tradeshows as a way for all of us to catch up on the latest in materials, software, processes and services.

This dynamism is not trivial. The sheer number of resins, fibers and manufacturing processes used in composites fabrication guarantees nearly constant innovation and evolution. If you throw on top of that the current drive away from manual and touch labor and toward automation (Industry 4.0, anyone?), coupled with increasing design simulation capability, it’s easy to see that change is inevitable.

My personal view is that each of us — as individuals, in groups, and as employees of companies — has a choice when it comes to dealing with change: We either anticipate, embrace and lead the change, or we wait for and follow while others lead the change. The former offers you the greatest agency and control, with the chance to act proactively in a timely and efficient manner. With the latter, you are reacting, constantly trying to catch up, recover and adjust.

Which takes us back to CAMX 2017. In the highly dynamic, change-chronic environment that is the composites industry, it is vitally important that we take advantage of every opportunity we have to see how the software, materials and processes we use are evolving. An event like CAMX offers a chance for us to meet the people and see the products we might work with to lead and shape the change.

So, in the spirit of leading the change and shaping the future of the composites industry, I hope you will make it to CAMX 2017 in Orlando, and I look forward to seeing you there.