The conference kicked off early for one group of attendees with a tour of the Honeywell UOP facility, where we dug into cutting-edge technologies that are changing how plants operate. Other conference attendees toured the DMDII facility, where they saw the future of smart machining in action, the Pacesetter Steel plant, where modern approaches are revolutionizing an old industry, and mHUB Chicago, a laboratory for Industry 4.0.
After returning to the Swissotel for lunch, the keynote sessions began. “We position innovation as a business driver,” said Joan Knight during
her presentation on how Exelon’s culture of innovation is attracting talent, improving safety and reliability, increasing efficiency and enabling the power-generation company to predict potential outages months before they would have occurred.
Next, Navistar’s Dan Pikelny explored how the commercial-vehicle manufacturer helps its customers keep trucks and buses on the road by offering real-time visibility into driving conditions, then synthesizing that data to inform vehicle design.
Breakout sessions followed.
John Brandt of The MPI Group celebrated how, just in the past few years, manufacturers have enthusiastically implemented elements of the IoT and begun reaping immediate rewards.
Alex Glaser of Harbor Research explained how a plant is akin to a social network, with data optimized when it is shared throughout the enterprise.
And Dan Jacob of LNS Research addressed the challenges the food and pharmaceutical industries, in particular, face in adopting the IIoT.
After a full day of presentations, conference-goers met one another in a speed-networking session; meetings lasted just three minutes, the conference room was abuzz with conversation and new connections were forged.
The day ended with a cocktail reception enabling guests to unwind, socialize and mingle with exhibitors.
“Three years ago we were talking about the possibilities and the potential of digital transformation,” said Smart Industry’s Keith Larson during his introduction at the start of the sessions. “Now we’re talking about what we’re actually doing.”
And today, specifically, what we’re actually doing looks awfully smart.