Yeah, it’s that time again.

Yeah, it’s that time again. Or getting close to it. That time is the NPE show. Next year it’s going to be in Orlando, Fla., for the first time,and in early April instead of late June. Mark the dates for NPE2012: April 1-5 at the Orange County Convention Center.

It’s not too early to register to attend the show. If you log onto npe.org you’ll see that both registration and housing are open. It’s also not too early to let you in on Plastics Technology’s plans to keep you informed on anything and everything related to the show. Before the show, during the show, and after it.

In fact, right now you can start checking out exhibitors and putting your agenda together by clicking on the Live Floorplan button on the npe.org website. That will bring you to the official NPE Interactive Floor Plan and Agenda Planner, courtesy of Plastics Technology’s sister company, Map Your Show.

On the editorial side, our coverage of the show will begin with the January issue. In that issue and in February, we’ll present articles on big-picture themes that will be evident on the show floor: sustainability, energy efficiency and automation in January; light-weighting, in-mold operations, and end-market opportunities in February.

March will be our NPE2012 Show Issue, where we will provide in-depth previews of the technology and products that will be on display on the show floor in April. This is a staple of Plastics Technology, and in my view (possibly biased), no one does it better. We will continue with that reportage in the May issue, with late-breaking developments from the show floor. In June, we will present our NPE2012 post-show report, filling you in on critical developments displayed in Orlando.

From January through June, we will also be sending you six NPE Insider e-newsletters that will offer insights on new products, technologies, and trends that will be prevalent at the show.
We also have other official products that you will find useful once you get to the show: the NPE2012 Official Show Directory and the NPE2012 Official Pocket Maps. I will get into the details of those products as we get closer to show time.

If I sound excited about NPE, it’s because I am. New city, new venue, more exhibitors, and lots of new technology. This is a critical show, in my judgment. Not just for the Society of the Plastics Industry, which owns and operates the event, or for the suppliers who will be exhibiting there and running equipment. It’s a critical show for you. Recent political machinations notwithstanding, our economy and our industry are recovering. This year has been better than last, and I expect next year will be better than this one. Heck, some economists are even predicting that housing will start to bounce back by 2013.

But the landscape of plastics processing has changed. The shoot-and-ship days are over. Unless you’re dealing in huge volumes, it’s virtually impossible to compete in commodity markets. You need the latest technology. You need to offer solutions, not just parts. Maybe you need to change your way of thinking. You’ll see it all at NPE 2012. We’re on top of it for you. But there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself, in person.