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Chattanooga Engineers Week Wraps Up with Automation, Maintenance, & Reliability Summit

Smart Factory Institute continues to bridge gap between future technology and manufacturers

Contact: Elena Brennan | | 865-329-0553

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – The Smart Factory Institute of Tennessee wrapped up Chattanooga Engineers Week by hosting the Automation, Maintenance and Reliability Summit on February 24, 2023, at the Institute’s manufacturing collaborative community space within the Partnerships in Industry and Education (PIE) Innovation Center in Cleveland, Tennessee.

The Summit drew in plant, production, and manufacturing managers, as well as safety engineers, technical specialists, automation specialists, design/development managers, and system integrators from across the nation. Attendees discussed and learned how to maximize asset reliability and avoid machine downtime while ultimately improving their automation, maintenance, and reliability programs in industrial manufacturing settings.

“This year’s Engineers Week focuses on the theme, ‘Creating the Future’ – recognizing how engineers play a vital role in innovating solutions to global challenges that impact future generations,” said Denise Rice, President and CEO of Peak Performance. “This is true for all manufacturers ushering in Industry 4.0 technologies, particularly plant professionals in charge of maintaining safe, efficient, cost-effective, and reliable operations and assets. This Summit is for them.”

The Summit kicked off with a presentation from Derek Kozlowski, Senior Engineering Manager at WACKER on adopting and implementing an asset reliability program. Kozlowski shared lessons learned from how WACKER utilized the LEAN Six Sigma methodology to determine the need for asset reliability and how they started down the journey towards implementation.

Mike Brooks, Vertical Market Manager, Factory Automation at Phoenix Contact – a Smart Factory Institute Technology Partner – offered practical, real world use cases to help manufacturers reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions while improving machine utilization.

“Phoenix Contact’s innovative products are an integral part of automation solutions implemented across a wide range of industries,” said Brooks. “Smart Factory Institute events such as this Summit provide us a valuable platform to share best practices, learn, and connect with other manufacturing leaders as we collectively embrace Industry 4.0.”

The Summit featured two breakout sessions. Andrew Taylor, P.E., F.ASME, Senior Program Manager at the Tennessee Valley Authority presented several real-world case studies where engineers were called on to use rigorous ethical decision-making skills. Cade Webster, Low Cost Automation Specialist at igus – a Smart Factory Institute Technology Partner – discussed how igus maintains a low cost automation program and gave a sneak peek into igus’ future of predictive maintenance.

“Industry 4.0 is enabling transformative digital decision-making in advanced manufacturing,” said Webster. “Igus is pleased to be able to share our expertise in lowering automation and maintenance expenses through innovation, and we look forward to continued collaboration with other manufacturers and improving our systems through the connections we make with the Smart Factory Institute.”

Following the breakout sessions, Dr. Gokhan Erdemir and Erkan Kaplanoglu, both Associate Professors at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, demonstrated how to safely operate Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), showcasing how AMRs are being used in different manufacturing settings.

Closing out the program, maintenance and engineering experts from Xpress Global Systems, Mars, and Motion discussed lessons learned from implementing Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) systems aimed at maintaining and improving the effectiveness of production through assets, employees, and processes that maximize equipment availability.

The Summit concluded with an exclusive tour of the Charleston, Tennessee WACKER manufacturing plant, one of the most modern production facilities for hyperpure polysilicon in the world.

The Smart Factory Institute will hold its next signature event, the EV Battery Innovations Conference, on April 27 at the Smart Factory Institute at the PIE Innovation Center. This year’s Conference will bring leading electric vehicle technology innovators and manufacturers together to explore new technologies, supply chain solutions, and safety considerations facing manufacturers of next generation of electric vehicles. To learn more or purchase tickets, visit

About Smart Factory Institute

The Smart Factory Institute is a business-driven effort guided by the Tennessee Manufacturers Association driving innovation and technology in Tennessee and the southeastern United States. The Institute, operated by Peak Performance Inc. and located at the Bradley County Partnerships in Industry and Education (PIE) Center, is an exclusive U.S. institute providing manufacturers with connections, collaborative relationships, and certifications for improving manufacturing processes by providing them with access to the latest technology in advanced manufacturing. The global network of Smart Factory Institutes by Deutsche Messe is comprised of leading companies and organizations in advanced manufacturing. For more information, visit

About Peak Performance Inc.

Peak Performance Inc. is a workforce training and consulting firm specializing in incumbent worker training for the manufacturing industry, and operators of the Smart Factory Institute, serving businesses across the country from their headquarters in Cleveland, TN. Peak Performance equips its customers to transform their operational strategy through comprehensive, sustainable solutions in people and processes. Their services are unique, customizing the training to their client’s needs, and using real-world simulations and instructors from the manufacturing industry. For more information, visit

Photos courtesy of Smart Factory Institute and Peak Performance Inc.


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