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Driving Our Economy Forward: Engineers Benefit from Smart Factory Institute

Original article written by WDEF Anchor/Reporter, Emily Cassulo. News footage by David Moore, WDEF.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WDEF) — The Smart Factory Institute in Bradley County is helping engineers do their jobs better.

They’re learning new technology – from artificial intelligence, to robotics.

That’s one way the Institute is driving our economy forward.

“We have manufacturing professionals from engineering and maintenance and operations, all coming together to talk about automation maintenance and reliability,” said Denise Rice, President and CEO of Peak Performance, Smart Factory Institute. “This is an opportunity for people that are all in the same positions, but they may be in different companies. They’re able to come together and share best practices and learn about new technology, new solutions. And then also learn about things that may have not gone so well. That they can apply to to their plant and and avoid those pitfalls.”

“We’re all facing the same thing,” said Jeff Carson, Plant Maintenance Superintendent, McKee Foods. “We’ve got automation going on and it’s good to collaborate with other companies on how to implement those. Technology is expensive but that’s what’s great about Smart Factory here is, that to be able to talk to the other companies and learn how they’re implementing new technology.”

“Our networking is great here; met a lot of new faces, met a lot of old faces,” said Dirk Bayliss, Operations Manager of M&M Corporate Facility. “It’s interesting to see what their development is, what they have implemented on their production floor/manufacturing floor. And what that can bring to M&M Industries. The lessons learned – we don’t have to spend the money on the lessons learned right. We get the best practices that other companies have implemented. And we take that idea and we incorporate it into our business practice right.”

“Iron sharpening iron, and it’s great. It really is because we’re not in it alone,” Carson said.

“As they are more successful obviously,” Rice said. “They are asked to produce more, which then requires more jobs. And it really helps overall. And for every dollar spent in manufacturing, it comes back to the community as a dollar eighty. Some of the the speakers have been outstanding. And I’ve had a number of manufacturers tell me how this has been very helpful for them. And how much they appreciate being, getting a chance to hear from from our speakers. The goal for today’s summit is for the professionals that are here to take a little piece back to their plant to help them be more efficient and more productive with higher quality, and improve their operations.”


The Smart Factory Institute will hold its next signature event, the EV Battery Innovations Conference, on April 27th at the Smart Factory Institute at the PIE Innovation Center. This year’s Conference will give insights from professionals from EV infrastructure, battery manufacturers, and OEMs, along with transportation and energy officials, and discuss EV opportunities and how to invest in the workforce to meet the demands of the automotive sector.

Keynote Speaker, Brett Smith, Research Fellow of the Center for Automotive Research will be kicking off the conference with the discussion, The Transition to Electrification: An Industry in Revolution. The Automotive Industry is undergoing a remarkable and challenging transition to electrified vehicles. Brett will discuss how the changing product may alter the manufacturing and supplier structure in North America during the next several years.

Purchase tickets now.

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