AIM Conference 2015
June 3-4, 2015 Detroit, Mich.

Automation is on the cutting edge of technology and is leading companies to increased productivity and connectivity. Industry came together for the second annual Automation in Manufacturing (AIM) conference in the first week of June to see how automation is being integrated and to gain a better understanding of the challenges ahead.

Topics ranged from the rise of automation and current applications in industry-leading facilities to workforce development, interconnectivity, the future of automation and more.  

Hal Sirkin of Boston Consulting Group opened his presentation describing the beginning of automation, starting with the invention of the steam engine and the impact of innovation in manufacturing to present day applications of automation. He focused on the economics of automation with a matter-of-fact analysis of the progression of manufacturing, labor and robotics.

Donald Peters of Lincoln Electric echoed the lessons of the past and offered a fresh perspective on the flexibility of robotics in manufacturing. He focused on applicable solutions to today’s challenges of staying competitive in an ever-growing global market for companies of all sizes.

Moving forward from history and analysis, Christian Müller of Grob Systems, Inc., gave an in-depth look at what top-of-the-line automation looks like and the challenges of integration. With examples from industry leaders in automation such as Ford, Volkswagen, and General Motors, his presentation dove into the advantages and disadvantages of different techniques of automation integration, sparing no detail.

Increasing connectivity, productivity, and sustainability with automation were topics echoed by many speakers from different perspectives and backgrounds. Todd Montpas, Rockwell Automation, stressed the value of building a connected enterprise and the importance of understanding the Industrial Internet of Things  to stay competitive. 

Workforce development was a common theme highlighted by multiple speakers. A panel of experts from the industry and academia, moderated by Greg Jones, Vice President – Smartforce Development at AMT, engaged with the attendees on the importance of investing in your workforce and closing the skills gap.

The conference covered all aspects of automation and robotics in the manufacturing industry, even looking forward to the future and other worlds. Speaker Berok Khoshnevis, Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies, USC, went as far as to speculate on possible application of automated 3D-printed construction on the Moon or Mars.

Attendees at AIM had the opportunity to learn from industry leaders on the past, present and future of automation. With plenty of time between sessions for extended questions with speakers and networking, attendees walked away with a deeper understanding of integrating automation and made valuable connections.