The Rapidian

Advanced Manufacturing Expo and West Michigan Works! to Hold Largest Public Technology Show in Michigan

Advanced Manufacturing Expo and West Michigan Works! join forces to bring the largest public technology show in Michigan to the DeltaPlex in August.
Expo attendee tests sharpshooting skills at ArtiFlex Automation game that uses industrial robot to pick out prizes.

Expo attendee tests sharpshooting skills at ArtiFlex Automation game that uses industrial robot to pick out prizes. /Mark Ermatinger

Advanced Manufacturing Expo has moved to the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids and joined forces with West Michigan Works! to hold the largest public show in Michigan that showcases technology solutions and talent for manufacturers and vendors.


Organizers for the show to be held August 10-11 said they needed more than triple the floor space from this year’s show held at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville to accommodate demand from exhibitors representing a wide range of advanced manufacturing technologies and a job fair for employers that want to attract skilled tradespersons, engineers and other local talent.


The exhibition and job fair will take a total of 33,000 square feet of space at the DeltaPlex with room for 190 booths.  Admission to the event is free to the public.


“West Michigan has a remarkable number of machine builders and manufacturers that are on the cutting edge of applying the latest technologies,” said Mark Ermatinger, show organizer and Vice President of Industrial Control in Zeeland. “People don’t realize how strong manufacturing is in our area.”


Ottawa County had the highest percentage of people employed in manufacturing in the entire state last year, Ermatinger said, and Kent, Allegan, Muskegon and Kalamazoo counties all have very high percentages of residents employed in manufacturing. “With all that talent, it’s only logical that we would hold the largest show of its type in Michigan right here in Grand Rapids,” he said.


The first Advanced Manufacturing Expo held last August was a solid success with 70 exhibitors, so the event has nearly doubled the number of booths to 120, Ermatinger said. Floor space was more than doubled from 11,000 square feet to 24,000 square feet to accommodate exhibitors that represent additive manufacturing, machine vision, automation, quality control gaging and other technologies.


West Michigan Works!, a state-sponsored program covering a 7-county region that links qualified talent with employers, will be holding a job fair with 70 booths for companies looking to attract skilled tradespersons, engineers and others acquainted with manufacturing. “This is the largest commitment of floor space and booths to date for the agency that covers Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa counties,” said Deborah Lyzenga, the agency’s regional director of business solutions.


“We see this as a wonderful pairing of our two organizations,” Lyzenga said. “A lot of attention is paid to the ‘hard’ side of manufacturing -- new equipment and technologies. But this expo and job fair is serving a dual purpose -- providing solutions for talent and technology.”


The Expo was expanded in 2016 to include a new sneak preview evening event on Aug. 10, longer show hours, and a golf fundraising event to support First Robotics high school programs.  


The DeltaPlex was chose as the venue for the Expo because it has spacious and free parking and easy north and south access to U.S.-131, Ermatinger said.  The main show will be held for one day on Aug. 11 to make it convenient and affordable for exhibitors outside of West Michigan.


There isn’t a larger show of its type in Michigan, Ermatinger said.  “There are a few expos held in the state that address a particular industry such as automotive powertrain, defense work, or contract manufacturing. There are a couple sponsored by large vendors for their customers. But there aren’t any this size that are free and open to the public to drive networking among manufacturers, vendors and educational institutions. It’s a great place to see new automation first-hand and network with local employers.”


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