If interest in new plant equipment is any indication of the improving health of manufacturing, then manufacturing received a clean bill of health at Fabtech 2011, the annual exhibition of plant tools and equipment. Record crowds (up 35% from 2009) filled Chicago's McCormick Place to view equipment that promises to improve quality and productivity.

This year's show had more than 1,300 exhibitors, filling a record 522,000 net square feet.

According to Chris Kuehl, PhD, economic analyst for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association and moderator of Fabtech's State of the Industry session, “Attendees were preparing for a better year in 2012 and were investing to be ready for it. They were engaged and were finding ways to do things better, faster and more efficiently.”

The 2012 show will be held in Las Vegas next November and return to McCormick Place in 2013. For more information, visit www.Fabtechexpo.com.