Carl Doeksen is the Global Robotics and Automation leader at 3M. We were thrilled to chat with him about what he can’t wait to see at Automate 2022.
Carl, what automation technologies are you most excited to see on the show floor this year?
You know, what I'm most excited about at Automate—coming from a robot guy—I'm most excited about the software and the software companies and the startup companies that we're going to see at Automate. And I really think this Automate, the pandemic has compressed the development cycle and we're going to see this continued acceleration of the democratization of robot software. And I'm really excited to see these startup companies that are driving that. That's how it works.
What kind of opportunities does Automate provide that other shows don’t?
Yeah, I would say if you're in the automation industry, it's the event in North America, right? I think one thing great about automation is it's an ecosystem, right? And there are these ecosystem partners, the robot companies, very important. However, the tertiary software companies, the enterprise-type companies that run the software in the plants and the systems, they're all there. And, I don't think the other shows, or certainly the other big shows on my docket…they're more focused on vertical, I'd say, markets. Where Automate cuts across all industries. It doesn't matter if you're in aerospace, automotive metal working; Automate is where you go to cut across all those verticals.
“Automate cuts across all industries. It doesn't matter if you're in aerospace, automotive metal working; Automate is where you go to cut across all those verticals.”
Do you have any tips on how first-timers can make the most of their time at Automate?
Many of these companies have big booths and you can conduct private meetings in the showroom. People sometimes forget that. They think you just go there and wander around and that's not how you get the most out of it.
Automate is a tremendous opportunity to meet that agency or integrator for breakfast or lunch or dinner. If it's a small startup, you're meeting in some bar there in Detroit. If it's ABB, they probably have a whole restaurant rented out somewhere for a banquet-style event. So there's the full gamut that you can do. But for that first timer […] create your dance card in advance. You know, maybe your boss isn't coming with you or your ownership or your board or whatever, but what if they were? Who would you put on that dance card? Who would you want to talk to? Who would you want to meet? Because again, it's every two years that you’re going to have everybody in our ecosystem there present for this event. I think that's how you get the most out of it.
“If you're in the automation industry, [Automate is] the event in North America.”
What is the greatest benefit of attending Automate?
I think from an attending standpoint, the number one—again, it might sound a little cliché—but it's the networking. It's the ability to meet a large amount of people from our automation ecosystem in one go.
When I network and, even a half a day into the show, the number one question [is]: “What'd you see at the show? What'd you see that was really cool?”
“Oh, you know, I was over at this startup that has this cool scan-to-path thing, or I was at this booth where they had the virtual reality thing or whatever, some new end effect”—that's just what you talk about.
And again, I think a lot of people think that, “oh, I need to go to the show and then I need to walk every single aisle of the show to see everything.” And, like we mentioned, that's not how you do it. You network, you connect the dots. What is of interest to you may not be of interest to somebody else. And you just continue to ask that question: “What did you see at the show that you thought was really cool, neat and new?” and you'll be surprised at the kind of answers you get to that question.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Attending the seminars is very organized. You can plan for that in advance and attend the ones that are most relevant to your business as well. So, if I can leave the group for Automate, it's a big wide event. It's better to use that rifle shot approach for you, your business and your team, as opposed to the shotgun approach of trying to digest it all. Because you just kind of end up drowning and not really accomplishing anything.
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