PowerPlex 2017 – Makers Making an Impact

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Jason Blessing, CEO, Plex Systems, delivered the opening keynote, “Makers Making an Impact” at PowerPlex 2017. In the keynote, Blessing provided statistics about Plex’s growth and customer base and outlined his vision for the future of manufacturing. In addition, Plex customers shared stories of how they are using the Plex Manufacturing Cloud to deliver this vision today.

Plex customers “make things” — from McFlurry spoons to pizza ovens to golf cart batteries to parts for automotive systems and more. The Plex community is comprised of manufacturing companies that are working to make things better and to make better things, and Plex is a major part of this effort. Here are some highlights from Blessing’s keynote.

Plex Growth

Plex has close to 600 customers running Plex in 1800 facilities in 20+ countries, and collectively these customers manage $35B in total annual revenue. Even more compelling, the Plex Manufacturing Cloud processes over 5 billion transactions every day – and 50 percent of those transactions come from connected devices and machines on the shop floor. Plex also boasts a long list of very satisfied customers as evidenced by an annual renewal rate of over 95 percent!

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Blessing’s speech highlighted the significance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to manufacturing — which, according to The World Bank, represents the largest discrete industry segment in the global economy as a percent of GDP. This represents a huge opportunity for Plex customers to exploit new technologies and new opportunities to impact the world economy. According to Blessing, manufacturing businesses can take advantage of three market forces— cloud computing, the evolution of manufacturing and the rise of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)— to drive productivity, efficiency, and innovation in manufacturing. Plex customers are ahead of the curve, leveraging these trends to “make things” now.

Blessing examined each of these market forces a little more closely.

  • Cloud Computing – The Economist Magazine reports that in 2015, only 15 percent of respondents rated cloud computing as a major factor in manufacturing. By 2020, 92 percent of respondents expect cloud computing to be a major factor.
  • Evolution of Manufacturing – Customers are more demanding, requiring shorter product and innovation cycles, as well as agility and the ability to customize and personalize products.
  • IIoT – Defined standards, lower prices on sensors (leading to increased connectivity), and IoT concepts applied to manufacturing all are contributing to changing business models for manufacturers. For example, embedded sensors communicate with production systems for tighter inventory control and “smart” products collect data that can be used to improve maintenance and product design.

By taking advantage of these forces, the Plex community has pioneered the concept of connected manufacturing, the foundation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. A connected manufacturing environment includes (1) connected systems on the shop floor; (2) connected business processes across the supply chain and customers; (3) connected smart products that collect information that can be used for analysis; and (4) connected people with a unified view of the business from the top floor to the shop floor. A connected manufacturing environment provides agility, improves quality, and increases efficiency.

Plex Customers in Action

Let’s look – up close – at a couple of these pioneers–Plex customers and what they are doing right now.

  • Wisco Industries, a family-owned metal stamping and fabrication and food service equipment manufacturer, has been a Plex customer for two years. Prior to Plex, Mike O’Malley, Controller, was unable to celebrate the 4th of July holiday every year, instead doing physical inventory for the company for which the fiscal year ends on June 30. After Plex, they do cycle counting every month throughout the year, so year-end is just like any other month. 4th of July recovered!
  • Ernie Green Industries, a long-time Plex customer focused on injection molding, coating, chrome plating, assembly and packaging technologies has expanded from five automotive factories using Plex to 11 facilities. Plex has made it much easier for the business to support acquisitions or to bring up new sites. Tony Brown, Director of Business Systems, shared that an acquisition of a medical device facility in the Dominican Republic went live in just four weeks.

Makers are truly making an impact at PowerPlex 2017, and based on this morning’s keynote, Plex customers are already defining the Fourth Industrial Revolution and what it means to the future of manufacturing.

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About the Author

Jane Clabby

Jane Clabby has been in the technology industry for over 25 years. She has worked at Data General and EMC in a variety of positions including: product management, market research, business development and marketing communications. In her five years at Clabby Analytics as a Research Analyst, she has covered storage, storage management, Internet of Things, cloud computing, and analytics. Jane received her BA from Williams College and an MBA from Boston University.