Here’s ISA’s Side of the Story…
…or why the fact that Automation Fair pulled almost 50% more attendance doesn’t matter…
ISA EXPO 2005 Attracts Automation Professionals From Around the World
With automation professionals attending from 72 countries, ISA EXPO
featured 87,500 square feet of product and services exhibits, a
cutting-edge technical conference, and an exceptional continuing
education and training program.
That means that the only North America-based automation exposition that did worse was the SPS show, which
was in its first year in the US, and learning how to transplant a German industrial expo into a new market.
Registrations totaled 10,600, consistent with recent ISA EXPO events in
Chicago. Attendees came from three major industrial sectors – 35% from
discrete manufacturing, 34% from engineering services and systems
integration, and 31% from process industries, with nearly 60% in
engineering, IT or management jobs – a higher percentage than in
Holding a by invitation only event in St. Louis, also in the Midwest, Rockwell Automation outperformed ISA’s numbers
by almost 4,000 more attendees.
“The mix of discrete and process representatives is exactly the reason
why ISA holds an event in Chicago. The Midwest has the second highest
concentration of ISA Members in the United States. As the organization
that’s setting the standard for automation, it’s our duty to bring
education and technology to all of our markets. We are continuing to
expand our influence and value to audiences outside of our traditional
focus on process industries. The strong attendance from the
manufacturing sector reinforces the success of recent initiatives like
our affiliation with OMAC,” said Don Zee, ISA President.
“This year’s ISA Expo was truly an eye opening experience for me. I have
been to many events in the past, and got what I expected out of them.
This time, however, the security issues really connected with what I
needed to know. The IT person we brought with us also felt that he
learned a lot about process control and its security issues,” said
William J. Cotter, Instrumentation Specialist -Process Instrumentation
and Control, 3M.
What I’m noting here is that the conference was excellent, and the on-the-floor technical sessions,
which were, unfortunately, tucked away at the wayback end of the hall (quite near the CONTROL
magazine booth, in fact) were well worth attending. What I’m not understanding is why so few people
came to the event, either to the conference or the expo.
The exhibition portion of the event was comprised of 484 exhibitors
including long-term participants, many new innovators, and the major
consortia that represented all of the key players in the industry –
giving attendees an opportunity to hear all the latest information in
One of the dumbest decisions ISA’s convention and exhibit oversight ever made was
the granting of the ability for the “consortia” like the Fieldbus Foundation and the HART
Foundation, etc., to sublet booth space to their members. Suddenly, Emerson, Foxboro, and
a host of other exhibitors started only appearing in the “consortia” booths. This meant that
not only did ISA lose this huge revenue, but that the Big Boys no longer had a serious financial
stake in seeing to it that visitors showed up…and so they stopped encouraging their customers
to attend. If I were ISA, I’d immediately suck it up and tell the consortia they can’t do that anymore.
In addition, a new discrete optimization pavilion that was hosted by
OMAC included 15 suppliers, as well as innovative machine tool
demonstrations and presentations by suppliers that have implemented OMAC
The attendees at the event were exposed to a diverse program of
practical application information and innovations at the keynote
presentations, special forums, and automation standards updates. The
keynotes attracted as many as 500 attendees and included presentations
on MES, technology trends, and the engineering challenges in food safety
and security. The forums also attracted hundreds of attendees and
addressed the important topics of manufacturing and control systems
security, security aspects of hybrid wireless applications, and
corporate diligence in food safety and security.
Automation standards updates sessions conducted on the exhibit floor
attracted standing room crowds. The sessions included reviews of the
industry-critical work underway within ISA in security (ISA-SP99),
enterprise integration (ISA-SP88 and ISA-SP95), wireless (ISA-SP100),
and HMI (ISA-SP101). OMAC presented sessions on their work with
packaging automation (PackSoft, PackConnect, PackML, PackAdvantage,
PackLearn), use of Microsoft software in manufacturing (MSMUG),
manufacturing architecture, and machine tool applications (STEP-NC,
“We were delighted with the response we had at our sessions at ISA EXPO.
It was an excellent opportunity to communicate our accomplishments,
reach some new audiences, and recruit new volunteers. It was further
proof of the value of our new affiliation with ISA and we look forward
to future ISA EXPO events,” said OMAC Board of Directors Chair Andy
It might be that the great OMAC experiment may work, even though there are
a host of nay-sayers. If ISA actually intends to continue using the silly slogan “Setting
the Standard for Automation” they need to be a lot bigger than they are in discrete manufacturing.
technical conference registrations were 20% higher than last year.
Safety, security and industrial networking conference sessions were
especially popular throughout the conference. Sessions on ISA-SP84
focused on Safety-Instrumented Burner Management and sessions focused on
Control Systems for Cyber Security had the highest attendance numbers.
In addition, several sessions on industrial networking and
communications drew large crowds. Those sessions included Wireless
Practices, Industrial Wireless in the Plant Environment, Foundation
Fieldbus Applications, and Fieldbus Network Design.
The education and training sessions were attended by over 300
professionals, also an increase of 20% from last year’s event held in
Houston, Texas. Customers like Denise Lue Leuong-Dixon of Con Edison in
New York, NY, were excited to bring new technology and information back
to their workplaces. “I’m here to attend a Control Systems Design
course to be able to perform my job better. My company has older
systems, so I’m looking to integrate new technology,” she explained.
…and what does ISA take away from this? Why that the exhibit worked fine. Sheesh.
What the rest of us are taking away from this is that the exhibits are darn near dead,
and the conferences and training are the only things holding this bag of wind together.
an example of exhibit commerce, Fluke’s Larry Wilson said things got
so busy at his booth they sold six of their thermography products off
the show floor. “I guess they just liked what they saw,” he said.
Far be it from me to contradict Larry Wilson, who is a perspicacious fellow
and a dynamite marketer, but when you bring a radically hot new product to a trade show
it isn’t necessarily the trade show that should get the credit for the product being
well received. Darn thing IS a hot product.
Tim Donaldson, ICONICS Director of Marketing, said, “This event was
extremely successful for us. The quality of the leads we generated was
higher than at other shows – we were talking to decision makers who had
a serious interest in our company. Plus, our theater was consistently
packed with people who asked intelligent questions and were there to
learn.” ICONICS, set to celebrate its 20th anniversary and 20 years at
ISA EXPO, will be exhibiting again next year in Houston.
Yabbut, yabbut. I interviewed almost 50 exhibitors. One in five said the show was
worth coming to. I’m personally gratified that ICONICS did so well…since they are
nearly the last known of the species “Softwareus HMIius Independenticus.”
“ISA is extremely pleased with the feedback that we’ve received from
EXPO 2005 attendees and exhibitors. The technical exchange at the event
was excellent, and our training sessions were very well attended –
especially the review course for our signature Certified Automation
Professional program,” said Dale Lee, ISA Director of Convention,
Education and Certification Services.
I’m glad ISA is pleased, Dale, because a lot of your exhibitors aren’t pleased at all.
I know of more than one company that has made, or is in the process of making, the decision
NEVER to exhibit at ISA again, or if they do, to exhibit as one of the consortia where the bill
is a lot less stiff.
When a private, by-invitation-only trade show outpulls ISA by almost 50%, it is pretty hard to spin
this in any way that I can see as other than a disaster for ISA.
ISA EXPO 2006 will be held 17-19 October 2006 at the Reliant Center in