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Fact or Fiction? Exposing the ‘September Effect’ in IMTS Years

By plotting the order data collected by USMTO, a clear pattern emerges of heightened orders in September of IMTS years compared to other months.
Jul 27, 2022

Everyone who has heard of IMTS knows it can be found at Chicago’s McCormick Place in September of even-numbered years. However, there are some other interesting places where you can find the footprint of IMTS: in the numbers. By plotting the order data collected by USMTO, a clear pattern emerges of heightened orders in September of IMTS years compared to other months. It seems obvious the biggest manufacturing technology show in the Western Hemisphere would be seen in data for machine orders, but we can’t just assume the observed pattern is meaningful without testing it. To test the significance of the patterns, we can compare the distribution above and below the median, or middle value, between two groups within a sample. Comparing the observed distribution with the expected values, we can calculate the probability the pattern observed is due to random chance; the lower the result, the more likely the data is showing significant information. This article will use that methodology to highlight some interesting patterns found in USMTO data and search for IMTS in broader economic data.

IMTS Develops Clearly in USMTO Data

Returning to the USMTO data now that a general methodology has been outlined, we can compare the orders reported in September of an IMTS year to those in every other month. Interestingly, the number of units ordered and the value of orders are both significant – but to different degrees. In order to account for any seasonal fluctuation in order activity not related to IMTS, the orders from IMTS months can then be compared to September orders in the odd, or non-IMTS, years. Both units and value were significant at <0.005, indicating a high degree of confidence the differences were not due to chance.

After confirming IMTS can be seen in the national numbers, other patterns began to emerge. USMTO tracks both where an order originates as well as where the machine is physically shipped. In most cases these are the same, but in the case that a purchase order comes from an office building and the factory is in another location, these will be different. Likewise, USMTO should capture when a machine is ordered at IMTS in Cook County, Illinois, and shipped to another location. In comparing the percent of units ordered from Cook County to the national numbers, there is no significant relationship. However, there is a moderate significance (<0.05) in the percent of the value of machines ordered, meaning more is spent at IMTS. This could have two likely explanations. When purchasing more expensive equipment, buyers tend to wait until IMTS so they can take a look in person before making the order. Or, when attending IMTS, orders tend to include more automation, increasing the total value of the order. There is some evidence for the latter since about a third of IMTS’ visitors indicate they are at the show to see automation.

Broader Economic Measures Present a Murkier Image

Turning from USMTO data to broader measures of the U.S. economy, there were several instances where interesting trends emerged, but based upon the statistical analysis, there was not enough evidence to attribute the pattern to IMTS. For example, industrial production tends to increase in the month following an IMTS, and this trend is significant at the <0.10 level. However, these trends also follow in non-IMTS Septembers, so there may be some other seasonal factor affecting this data. It is important to remember that the data for the whole U.S. economy are massive aggregations, so it is difficult for a particular event, even on the scale of IMTS, to emerge. That being said, one trend that was significant at the <0.05 level was that in the quarter following IMTS, manufacturing job openings tended to go up relative to the rest of the year and more often than in non-IMTS years. This makes sense because machines ordered at IMTS would likely be delivered at some point in the fourth quarter of that year, and the shop purchasing the machine might have needed new people to help utilize it.

Be Part of the Picture at IMTS 2022

Our data shows IMTS has a huge impact on the manufacturing industry every two years, and now we have a small glimpse at how it also impacts various measures of manufacturing and the larger economy. Being at IMTS isn’t just a great chance to see the latest technologies or a unique, industry-wide networking opportunity; its effect ripples through the manufacturing community in the numbers.

The machine order data used in this article is from USMTO, which is released the second Monday of each month. If you are a builder or distributor of manufacturing technology, you can receive more granular data by becoming a participant. If you have any questions or would like to participate, you can visit USMTO.com or contact AMT. 

Christopher Chidzik
Principal Economist
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