IDEA! Awards logo with show floor photo

IDEA! Conference: A Look Back at Day 1

Nov. 11, 2021
Everything from diversity to linear actuators kept attendees’ attention.

The Industrial Design Engineering & Automation (IDEA!) Conference in Cleveland got off to a great start with LinkedXL CEO and author Billy Taylor, who gave an honest and heartfelt talk on making diversity and inclusion core values for companies and organizations. He cited the advantages of diversity, offering advice on how to get companies on the road to enlightened and profitable treatment of employees and in hiring practices.

Next, Scott Dixon, the managing director of RVs for Digital Manufacturing, gave a fast and furious look at the Factory-of-the-Future and what it will take for companies to grow one of their own. He also highlighted two megatrends that are holding companies back:

Globalization. Manufacturing companies are now truly worldwide, presenting a challenge for employees and IT infrastructure needing instantaneous information and data on all the far-flung enterprises.

Demographics. Baby Boomers continue to retire, resulting in a loss of institutional knowledge. At the same time, a new, younger set of employees brings different expectations for their careers and what they want from employers.

To get back to some bench-level engineering, Richard Vaughn, Automation engineering manager for Bosch Rexroth, talked about mechatronics and linear actuators. He pointed out how those actuators are getting smarter and why that makes them even better value proposition for factory automation. And for engineers with questions, he pointed to the prevalence of eTools that will help them get the right actuator for their applications.

To round out an already informative day, Mo Abuali, managing partner at IoTco, talked a bit on IoT/Industry 4.0 and why artificial intelligence and predictive maintenance were competitively necessary for each. Then he described several instances of companies adopting this advanced version of mechatronics and the rewards they reaped. His advice to companies looking to jump in: “Think big, act small and keep an eye on ROI.”

The day ended on a high note for several special attendees; it was the awards ceremony.

The 2021 winner of the Machine Design/Hydraulics & Pneumatics Big IDEA! Award, the new product deemed “most valuable” by readers, is the Branson GMX 20DP. The ultrasonic spot welder has a durable, reliable mechanical design and can monitor its own performance in creating precise welds on thin, fragile nonferrous foils and films. This will make it useful for making lighter, more “energy-dense” battery cells and packs and can deliver more power per pound.

Industry Week, Machine Design’s sister brand at Endeavor Business Media, handed out its prestigious Best Plants Awards. The three finalists were: Thermo Fisher Scientific in Greenville, N.C.; Brose Tuscaloosa in Vance, Ala.; and Intertape Polymer Group (IPG) in Tremonton, Utah. (For a complete rundown on IW’s Best Plants 2021, click here).

Congratulations to all the well-deserving companies and their employees who made it happen.

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