Smart Manufacturing Blog

Welcome to your source for all things smart manufacturing. Whether you’re looking for expert insights, hard data, or actionable tips for your plant floor, we’ve got you covered every week of the year.

7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing

Now Available!

Get your copy of the 7th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing and hear from 300+ manufacturers in this new survey report!

PowerPlex 2021 Key Takeaways Part 2: Unlimited Possibilities

May 27, 2021
PowerPlex Unstoppable

After a jam-packed schedule full of insight, networking, and inspiration, PowerPlex 2021 is officially in the books. It was rewarding to enable so much human connection in a safe way while providing experiences that progress manufacturers’ goals. It’s why we do what we do.

We’re already looking forward to next year, but first let’s round out the highlights from the rest of this year’s conference.

The Unlimited Possibilities of Smart Manufacturing

Plex CTO Jerry Foster kicked off the second day of the main stage with a conversation on Industry 4.0 and digital transformation. He began by taking us through a timeline of 2020’s manufacturing production, emphasizing how manufacturers pivoted and rebounded to exceed their pre-COVID production by the end of the year. Despite the circumstances, unstoppable leaders found opportunities to expand into new, unexpected lines of business.

After setting the tone, Jerry brought in expert panelists Grace Perry of Rockwell Automation, Klaus Löckel of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, and Sudhi Bangalore of Stanley Black & Decker. These are the people leading the smart manufacturing movement, and they shared their experiences and viewpoints on how to achieve digital transformation and what it can do for a company.

We learned that data is the oil of the 21st century and that Industry 4.0 isn’t just a trend in continuous improvement – it’s an industry revolution. Having data at your fingertips in real-time enables the kind of communication and insight that uncovers new opportunities. However, it’s key to make people a part of that revolution, which also helps alleviate resistance to change and emphasizes the value of manufacturing technology by putting that at the center of the narrative.

The panel also discussed how, without the right partners who share your passion, adopting smart manufacturing could take years. The market demands change faster than that, and innovation is driven by necessity. That’s why it’s time for manufacturers to rethink their smart manufacturing strategy and realize that digitalization is the lifeline they’ve been waiting for.

Recapping Your Favorite Tracks

Another successful PowerPlex produced many key nuggets of information that stood out to attendees. In addition to our previous track-by-track recap, here are more can’t-miss takeaways.

Track: Manufacturing Operations

  • Manufacturing continues to be a highly competitive sector played out on a global stage
  • Leading manufacturers continuously seek ways of creating and protecting profit sanctuaries by fully integrating and harmonizing processes and solutions
  • Smart manufacturing solutions provide easy and scalable ways to drive predictability, repeatability, and accuracy across product lines, geographies, and industries
  • Top manufacturers implement smart manufacturing solutions to govern operational behavior and provide micro-second level control and visibility that increases the speed of decisions

Track: Supply Chain

  • Cutting through the noise and gaining a no-nonsense approach to supply chain planning is essential to success, according to author Ara Surenian
  • The future of supply chain planning is bright, and Plex plans to help manufacturers stay ahead of change
  • A manufacturer must learn to use its supply chain as a competitive advantage, identify planning gaps, and utilize advanced planning techniques for growing the business
  • Smart EDI is built to deliver more trading partners, faster, with greater self-service for manufacturers

Track: Analytics & Data

  • Plex reporting and platform tools help manufacturers build impactful, tailored solutions
  • Today, data is what drives a company’s most important decisions
  • APIs & ML expand an organization’s analytic sophistication 
  • Tapping into prebuilt, customizable reports and analytics delivers major value

Manufacturers are Unstoppable

We heard from so many attendees that our unstoppable features were some of the best parts of this year’s PowerPlex. We shared four of those stories in our last post, and here we’re recapping a few more:

  • Sharon Woo, CEO of Peak Technology Enterprises, taught us how being unstoppable means pushing through fear and gaining perspective on life. She credits her company’s success to the communities she’s built, the communities she’s joined, and the communities she contributes to.
  • Charlie Ackerman, SVP of HR at Bosch North America, shared three stories that define what unstoppable means to him. He described why your circumstances do not define your story in life, how dedicating time, energy, and heart makes a difference, and why manufacturers are the most unstoppable people of all.

These unstoppable stories represent only some of the guests we were honored to have with us. Throughout PowerPlex, several customers joined our leadership team in conversation. Highlights include:

  • Mike Williams of the Cadillac Products Automotive Company talked about shifting operations to craft PPE for frontline workers, opening a whole new line of business.
  • Tara Newcombe and Christian Etique from Drinkworks described the home cocktail market and how demand for the home bar experience shifted during the pandemic.
  • Wally Wyniemko and Damian Walker showed us how Hatch Stamping benefits from Plex Industrial IIoT and Mach2 by talking through projects and sharing footage of their shop floor.

Plex Impact Award Winners

It’s important to recognize greatness, and that’s why our annual Impact Awards honor those who are really pushing the smart manufacturing movement forward. On Tuesday of PowerPlex, we recognized Omega Bio-tek with the Business Operations Transformer Award and Hatch Stamping with the Product or Technology Innovator Award. On Wednesday, we gave out our third customer award.

This year’s Industry Leader Impact Award went to Thai Summit America (TSA). With a focus on their local community, employees, and customers, this company is truly a well-rounded leader. During 2020, TSA drove 14 launches, saved $9 million in efficiencies (nearly doubling their goal), boosted utilization by 55%, and even found time to mentor youth.

In addition to recognizing three stellar customers, we also took time to acknowledge two partners who played key roles in helping Plex meet lofty business expectations over the last year. The Partner Impact Award went to Control+M Solutions for being customer-focused, responsive, and understanding. They’re a trusted advisor and passionate ambassador for Plex, driving value for our customers.

Revolution Group took home the Partner of the Year Award for expressing such a passion for winning and going the extra mile in the sales process. They’re an innovative partner able to find creative solutions for addressing customer challenges and delivering quality implementations.

Once again, congratulations to all the Plex Impact Award winners and nominees!

PowerPlex 2021 Key Takeaways Part 2

And that’s a wrap! Thank you to all the attendees, sponsors, and behind-the-scenes team members who made PowerPlex 2021 possible. It takes a lot to pull off this event and make it so meaningful, and if you’re reading this, you played a role in that. See you next year!

Want even more insights? Visit where session recordings are waiting for you!

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.