Chinese manufacturers are seeking advanced automation solutions from U.S. makers, as indicated by the bustling activity at the CIMT 2023 – China International Machine Tool Show, one of the largest manufacturing technology shows in China, held April 10-15 in Beijing.
With the Chinese government reopening its borders to visitors in March and a bounce-back in production following COVID-19 restrictions, there’s pent-up demand for manufacturing technology. CIMT 2023 drew more than 240,000 attendees (a 21% increase from CIMT 2021 and 7% increase from CIMT 2019) to meet with 1,600 exhibitors in 13 national pavilions. The U.S. Pavilion, sponsored by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, featured 29 U.S. companies displaying their latest manufacturing technologies in such areas as additive manufacturing, robotics, and machine tools.
Filling Gaps with Robots
With shrinking demographics and higher labor costs, Chinese companies are turning to robots and other automation to fill the workforce gaps and stay competitive. Although China has made significant progress in developing its own manufacturing technology capabilities, there are still areas where American suppliers have a competitive advantage, such as high-end robotics and automation. According to the International Federation of Robotics, China purchases more industrial robots each year than any other country.
AMT recognized the importance of the Chinese market for its members more than 30 years ago and began sponsoring a pavilion at CIMT so members could boast their latest products. In 2004, AMT opened its first foreign Tech Center in Shanghai to help members gain access and develop sales channels.
“China is still the world's largest manufacturing economy and consumes the most manufacturing technology – about $20 billion worth each year,” says Edward Christopher, vice president of global services at AMT. “Many American companies continue to see significant growth opportunities there.”
Chinese Manufacturing is Back
Li Xingbin, senior advisor - Asia for AMT, was on-site at CIMT 2023 and witnessed the success of the show for U.S. exhibitors.
“One exhibitor told me they had 300 quality sales leads within the first three days of the show,” Xingbin says. “Another exhibitor sold three machines off the show floor, which is unbelievable. Chinese companies need quality manufacturing technology now and are willing to make purchases immediately.”
Tom Dustman, international sales director for Sunnen Products Company, a manufacturer of bore sizing and finishing equipment in Maplewood, Missouri, shared his company’s positive experience at CIMT 2023.
“Exhibiting at CIMT is an important part of our global marketing strategy,” says Dustman. “Although we use many marketing methods such as websites and social media, consumers of machine tools still want to see the products up close at trade shows. We closed sales at CIMT and captured a hefty number of sales leads. It was very successful for us.”
Brand Recognition in China
Drake Manufacturing, a CNC machine manufacturer in Warren, Ohio, has exhibited at the CIMT U.S. Pavilion for several years because it provides an opportunity to connect with existing customers and introduce new technology, but also to support the brand.
“By exhibiting at CIMT, we’re showing China that we’re a strong company and interested in working with them,” says Stig Mowatt-Larssen, CEO at Drake. “Having a presence at CIMT allows us to build name recognition in an important market. Over one third of our sales this year will be to Chinese customers.”
As Chinese companies continue to expand and modernize their operations, the demand for U.S. advanced manufacturing solutions will increase.
“The attendance numbers at CIMT were quite impressive, indicating that China is back and open for business,” Christopher says.
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