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Saturday, Jan 28, 2023
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Staying Competitive Will Be Message of WESTEC

At the Advanced Control Tech exhibit at this year’s WESTEC manufacturing trade show, company owner Peter Lee will demonstrate a machining tool that will save time and money. The computer numerical controlled machine (CNC) designed at the Granada Hills firm is smaller and more compact than traditional machines and eliminates shop owners having to send out to manufacture a part. “With a small desktop CNC machine they can do the part right there at their desk and work with the computer,” Lee said. The innovation shown by Lee and other San Fernando Valley region companies exhibiting at the show is what the Society of Manufacturing Engineers hope attendees will bring back to their own businesses after attending the four-day show starting March 30 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Staying competitive in a harsh economy takes innovation and new approaches. The Michigan-based SME sees that firsthand with the machine shops serving the auto industry that is losing work as the Big Three scale back on production. The lesson that those shops and others throughout the country can learn is to find clients in other industries that are not struggling. “If they can diversify the industries they serve it is easier to weather the economic storm,” said John Catalano, group manager of expositions for the SME. Show organizers expect a drop in exhibitors and flat attendance when compared with past years. However, the number of new products being introduced at the show is expected to be more than usual, in the 260 range. While there will be no one program directly addressing the economy, the combined effect of the event will show manufacturers how to position themselves for success. Each day of the show focuses on a different industry aerospace, automotive after-market and medical products and feature speakers on how to enter and succeed in those markets. New signage and additional pages in the show directory will make it easier for attendees to find companies associated with those three industries. Because there are still manufacturing positions that go unfilled because of a lack of skills, the show will have one day focused on workforce development. Representatives from the California Employment Training Panel will discuss grants available for employee training and an educator’s summit on April 1 focuses on growing the state’s workforce. “We think it will be a useful experience for them,” Catalano said. Companies from throughout the greater Valley region will exhibit at the show. Returning as exhibitors are Scientific Cutting Tools Inc. in Simi Valley, Delta Tau Data Systems Inc., Ganesh Machinery, and Protocast, all in Chatsworth. At the Advanced Control booth, Lee will entice small business owners with the desktop CNC machine that he prices less than $8,000. Visiting the show will be Jorge Eroza, owner of San Fernando Pallet Co. Eroza and wife Susana employ 25 people at their locations in Chatsworth and Lancaster making new and refurbishing used wooden pallets. The company also distributes new and used plastic pallets. The poor economy is what brings Eroza to WESTEC for the first time since he was in college. He is interested in what the show can provide in terms of how to make his manufacturing process more efficient and boost productivity. He is even open to trying new marketing techniques, Eroza said. “There is a cost for everything so I have to look at the return of every investment that I make,” Eroza said.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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