The SPESA conference is a perfect example of how the management of a professional event can dramatically alter over the course of a decade. The conference also referred to as Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference has been running since 2010 and has had its own site that distinguished it from the official organiser, SPESA – Sewn Products Equipment & Suppliers of the Americas, as a separate entity. This served as a way to carve out a space for the event to find its feet better and be easy to discover, but since 2016 the website has been killed and instead now, editions are announced on the official page of the organiser.
Who is the SPESA? The Sewn Products Equipment & Suppliers of the Americas has been at the heart of the textile industry in the Americas and is recognized as the largest trade association within this region. It’s mission statement is simple – advance the suppliers of machinery, technology, ancillary equipment, parts and services along every link the processing chain of sewn products. Its community consists of companies who are engaged in different fields and levels in the fashion and textile industry. This ranges from apparel, upholstered furniture, home textiles and transportation to interiors, leather goods, footwear, military and technical and industrial textiles. That is only just scratching the surface.
Now that we know what SPESA stands for, we can understand the function of the conference as a driver for innovation within the sewing industry, share industry-specific information and create first-rate opportunities to form partnerships and facilitate new business. The SPESA conference is an annual occurrence that takes place in the first quarter of the year, usually around February. The most recent edition was held on February 27, 2019, in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Raleigh Convention Center as part of the bigger programming of Techtextil North America, which itself ran over the course of three days between February 26th and February 28th. The conference is not contained to just one city location. Previous editions were held in Chicago and San Antonio for instance.
Each year brings a new relevant theme. In 2019, this theme was “Manufacturing in an On-Demand World,” which unsurprisingly tackled with the challenges before the textile industry in relation to the emergency climate threats and also ideas pertaining to Industry 4.0. The subjects that at the root of programming were Automation, Microfactories, Software Connectivity and The Internet of Sewn Products to name just a few. SPESA oversaw another selection of the most influential and knowledgeable industry experts to reveal the specifications of the most innovative methods and technologies that are being rolled out on the market or have already become available, and how the attending companies can gain a full advantage through their adoption.
But how does this conference, which is organised only within a single day, manage to relay this volume of industry information? The Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference employees a three-track structure, which creates an easy segmentation that allows for professionals to find the lectures and talks that are most relevant to their business needs. Part of the reason why the 2019 was one of the best received one had to do with the partnership between SPESA and the organiser of the Techtextil North America, which in effect creates useful bridges between the sewn products sector and the textile industry. Co-location only makes sense in the long run as a chance to promote integration of more useful technology and achieve higher degree of cooperation.
The subjects of speed-to-market, reshoring, quality control, and improving supply chains are on everyone’s lips. Attendees to the conference gained access to the exhibition hall of Techtextil North America, where they saw the solutions and offerings from giants like Morgan Tecnica Spa, Inc., Carr Textile Apjet, brrr° and Zund. That’s only one small victory. Co-location gave visitors to the conference further access to the paid Symposium as well as the Techtextil North America’s Reception and Tours at NCSU, which fell exactly on the eve of the conference.
There’s little information on when the conference will be held next and if the co-location with the Techtextil North America will continue as such, but what we know is that the Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference will not be forming a new online presence under its own url anytime soon.