Manufacturing: Feed Innovation or Starve

  • July 29, 2016
  • Feature

By Bill Lydon, Editor,

The world of manufacturing is an exciting ever-changing landscape continually being driven to new heights of productivity, efficiency, and quality with the application of automation.  Manufacturing professionals who keep up-to-date with and understand the latest automation technologies, techniques, and solutions are important contributors to the competitiveness and overall success of manufacturing companies.  The cumulative leverage of applying a variety of new methods and products, in order to improve manufacturing efficiency and quality, is underrated.  Certainly high-visibility, much hyped new technologies are exciting and important. Yet, the more subtle, seemingly small improvements are, over time, just as critical to building success.  Helping to facilitate these improvements, some leadership companies have understood that a great way to keep professionals aware of and engaged in the latest automation trends is to host related trade events and symposiums.


Companies experience disruption when they are surprised by competitors’ manufacturing and automation innovations, of which they were not aware, that enhance the competition’s manufacturing productivity and quality. This disruptive surprise occurs because said companies have not invested in helping their personnel learn about the new technologies, methods, and techniques available.  Simply relying on current vendors for manufacturing technology, or the hope that a salesperson knocks on the door with the miracle product that improves the company business, dramatically limits the possibility of success and may set a company on a path to failure.


You might think creativity starts with a random idea, but the truth is that the best ideas don't arise in an intellectual vacuum.  If you want to brainstorm new innovations which go beyond solving problems and increase productivity and performance as well, it is essential to feed it new ideas from multiple sources.  We have been conditioned to believe the only way to get big results is to make a big change and this can sometimes be true, but these opportunities are typically expensive and rare.  Many times the little-change ideas can be just as powerful as big ones.  Smaller changes have the advantage of being an additive, instead of an overhaul, and are thus may be able to yield big results, while being less costly, less risky, and less disruptive.

Industrial Automation North America - September 12th – 17th, 2016 at Chicago, Illinois- McCormick Place

The Industrial Automation North America (IANA) event is one such gathering that provides a great opportunity to learn about the latest automation developments as well as compare products and ideas from companies throughout the industry using the latest industrial automation technology.  The added advantage is that IANA is co-located with five other manufacturing industry events, providing the opportunity for an organization’s entire manufacturing team to learn about the latest developments throughout the industry.

Motion, Drive & Automation North America

Motion, Drive & Automation North America features new, faster, and more responsive mechanical interfaces and devices for power transmission, motion control and fluid technology.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS)

The International Manufacturing Technology Show is one of the largest industrial trade shows in the world, featuring more than 2,000 exhibiting companies held every two years in September at McCormick Place, Chicago.

Surface Technology North America

Iindustrial surface treatment and finishing from pre-treatment and coatings, to paint finishes and electroplating.

ComVac North America

ComVac North America features the latest product developments, technology, and plant & system components for all areas of compressed air and vacuum.

Industrial Supply North America

The event will cover the entire spectrum of industrial subcontracting and lightweight construction.

2016 Global Automation and Manufacturing Summit

The 2016 Global Automation and Manufacturing half-day Summit, to be held Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016 at IANA, provides another opportunity to learn firsthand about hot topics from industry experts.   This year, the opening keynote is being given by Jack Nehlig, president and CEO of Phoenix Contact USA, who will discuss the Industrial Internet of Things, both as an industry supplier and as a manufacturing company.  Other topics will include cloud-based manufacturing, Robotics: Rise of the Machines, Maintenance & Big Data.   The summit will end with a reception and networking event.   

2016 Integrated Industries Conference

The inaugural Integrated Industries Conference takes place on September 13th and will feature three tracks, bringing together industry experts, with the goal of addressing solutions to current manufacturing concerns, sharing new trends & best practices, and to provide information which will help companies thrive in today’s manufacturing environment.  The conference tracks are:

  • Motion, Drive & Automation,
  • Industry 4.0 / Internet of Things
  • Surface Technology  


Events, such as this, also can deliver great value in team-building as well. Sending a cross functional team, with different perspectives can help your team think collaboratively and bring new ideas to the table when looking at solutions and technology to improve operations.

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