A Smart Manufacturing Summit Roundup

Chief Executive’s Smart Manufacturing Summit is in full swing in Peoria, Ill., home to Caterpillar Inc.’s global headquarters. Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman opened the two-day event this morning. Trending right now: Tours of the Caterpillar facility are underway.

May 21 2014 by Lynn Russo Whylly


Chief Executive’s 2nd annual Smart Manufacturing Summit in Peoria, Ill. kicked off on Tuesday to a standing-room-only crowd as keynote speaker Doug Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, spoke about how the global heavy equipment manufacturer is preparing for the future.

Following Oberhelman, Dave Bozeman, SVP of Caterpillar’s Enterprise System Group, asked attendees to challenge their own assumptions and apply lean thinking to every function—not just manufacturing. ”Engineer the chain, not the links,” he said, and “start with customer requirements.”

After the networking break, Mark Cotteleer spoke about what’s next in additive manufacturing and 3D printing.

In speaking about the skilled talent shortage, Gwenne Henricks, Vice President of Product Development & Global Technology and CTO said, “Think about talent like an element of your supply chain and work backward. Start with ‘raw materials’ by encouraging young people to consider manufacturing careers. CAT now works with 40 community colleges to collaborate on curriculum and training to help prepare students for attractive careers. ”

Following that, John MacCrae of CohnResnick discussed the critical role of the c-level professional in the integrated business Planning (IBP) Process and Pierre Custeau of the Oracle Marketing Cloud talked about finding new paths to growth.

The luncheon was accompanied by Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers who spoke about how to improve manufacturers’ competitiveness in today’s global environment.

After lunch, attendees toured three Caterpillar facilities. One of them is featured here in this TV commercial posted on YouTube, entitled “Jenga.” If you played Jenga as a child, or even if you didn’t, this commercial, which has already generated 2.1 million views, is a must-see.

On Wednesday, guest panelists discussed the smart manufacturing renaissance and how to make smart manufacturing work. Scott Crump, chairman of Stratasys, a manufacturer of 3D printing and materials, spoke about how 3D printing is disrupting manufacturing. “With 3D printing, the consumer is now the manufacturer of select products,” he said.

“As we look toward the future, manufacturers must become “connected enterprises,” said Keith Nosbusch, Chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation. The connected enterprise, he said, turns raw data into actionable information and can drive faster time to market, lower cost of ownership,  improved asset utilization and reduced enterprise risk.

Colin Masson, Manufacturing Industry Solutions Director at Microsoft, adds that this connected strategy should include “mobile, social, cloud and information to remain competitive.” To really get started in Smart Manufacturing, Robert Nardelli, Chairman and CEO of XLR-8, says “assemble your key people in a room with a white board and nail down your real key issues. That will keep the focus on business results.”

Following the panel discussions, Jim Blass, Director of Product Development & Global Technology at Caterpillar, gave an overview of R&D at his firm.

Tours continued in the after of the R&D and 3D printing facilities.