In 2007, Fabtech is returning to what many might consider its home: Chicago.

For many years, the Windy City alternated hosting duties with Cleveland for Fabtech, one of North America’s largest events focusing on metal fabrication.

But in 2004, organizers decided to leave Cleveland and move the event around the country - the 2006 show was in Atlanta - while maintaining Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center as a regular stop every two years.

They’re expecting big crowds Nov. 11-14 for this Fabtech: 25,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors taking up 475,000 square feet of show-floor space. Altogether, sponsors predict a show 35 percent larger than the last one held in Chicago in 2005.

New this year: Sponsors the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, and the American Welding Society announced that the National Association of Manufacturers has joined the show as an industry partner. NAM president and former Michigan Gov. John Engler was keynote speaker at last year’s event.

New partnerships

“The NAM is an excellent organization and a tremendous advocate for U.S. manufacturing,” said Jerry Shankel, president and CEO of the fabricators association. “We are thrilled to welcome the NAM as industry partner to the Fabtech International and AWS Welding Show, and look forward to a successful long-term partnership with the NAM.”

Mark Tomlinson, executive director of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, agreed.

“We find numerous synergies in our event vision and NAM’s activities,” Tomlinson said. “The NAM will also sponsor our leadership summit, held during the 2007 show, adding tremendous value and credibility to this key event initiative.”

The Nov. 12 leadership summit will have industry experts and local and national government officials “Addressing the Shortage of Skilled Workers in U.S. Manufacturing.” Overcoming the difficulties of recruitment will be a key topic.

Here’s a preview of some of the other sessions that may be of interest to those involved in sheet metal and HVAC work. Fees may apply. And don’t forget about Fabtech’s trade show, likely to be one of the largest - and loudest - you’ll ever attend.

Sessions

At 9:30 a.m. Nov. 12, these sessions are scheduled:

• “R&D Tax Credit: Is Your Company Leaving Money on the Table?” The tax advantages of research and development for metal-using manufacturers will be explored by Deb Crumley of Tax Credit Services and Scott Schmidt of Black Line Group.

• “Safety and Health Concerns for Management/Business Owners.” General Motors Corp.’s Michael Taubitz will explain why safety is a leadership issue, compare regulations from Europe, Asia and America, and explain why safety is an essential component of “lean” manufacturing.

At 1:30 p.m., seminars include:

• “Basic Management for Emerging Team Leaders” is scheduled. Tamara K. Fay will explain the core functions of supervisors, give tips on becoming a team leader and go over the different leadership styles.

• “Roll Forming for the Construction Industry.” This seminar deals with in-plant roll forming and trends in jobsite roll forming. The benefits of automating the coil-handling process, testing and certification for standing-seam panels, and machine flexibility will be discussed by Dale A. Kroskey of Metalforming Inc.

The Nov. 13 executives breakfast on “How Manufacturers Can Find Growth Opportunities in the New Economy” will feature author and consultant Michael P. Collins.

At 9:30 a.m. Nov. 13, sessions include:

• “Lean 203: Five ‘S’ Workplace Organization and Standardization.” The fundamentals of the five S’s - sort, set-in-order, shine, standardize and sustain - will be explained by Anthony Manos of Profero Inc.

• “Advances in Laser Technology for Cutting Thin Stainless Steel” will preview the new technologies for cutting this material. Presented by Richard Neff of Cincinnati Inc.

• “How to Achieve Good Slitting Results” by Al Zelt of Asko Inc. will explain how to get a “good edge,” avoid slit-in problems and care for tooling.

• “Risk Control: Substance Abuse Screening - Developing a Drug-Free Workplace” is a new topic for Fabtech. CNA Insurance’s Shari Falkenburg will go over testing, screening and related issues.

• “Selection of Cost Effective Plasma Cutting.” Gas and fluid selections, cutting stainless steel and aluminum, and welding integrity are the topics to be talked about by officials with Thermadyne Inc.

Sessions at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 14 include:

• “Strategic Planning for Job Shop Owners.” Mark Ernst of Ernst Enterprises will help attendees of this session figure out where the market is heading in the next five years and evaluate where their businesses currently sit.

• “Elements of a Comprehensive Safety and Health Program.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesman Bill Coulehon will talk about the most common violations, how inspections are handled and what OSHA requires businesses to do.

In addition, free business-improvement seminars will be held at noon Nov. 12-14 on lean building, marketing and work force performance.

For more information on Fabtech, visit www.sme.org/fabtech, www.fmafabtech.com or www.aws.org/show on the Internet. You can also call the Society of Manufacturing Engineers at (800) 733-4763 or the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association at (800) 432-2832.