Brad Kuvin Brad Kuvin
Editorial Director

Industry 4.0 Conference Helps Small Manufacturers Reimagine Their Operations

August 30, 2022

Small to midsized manufacturers (SMMs) investing in Industry 4.0 initiatives by adopting Internet of Things (IoT) technology, investing in automation and seeking opportunities to add additive manufacturing (AM) to their resume find that they can make strides across several key-performance indicators that drive growth. Want to learn best practices for evaluating and implementing some of these same strategies? Then plan now to attend the Industry 4.0 Experience for Metal Formers and Fabricators, a one-of-a-kind conference from MetalForming magazine and the Precision Metalforming Association, designed to educate metal forming and fabricating company leaders on the latest in digital and plant-floor connectivity technologies.

Slated for October 5-6 in Schaumburg, IL, the conference will feature several experts ready to explain how automation, IoT and AM are changing how manufacturers work. Successful use-case studies will describe how these technologies help SMMs improve overall equipment effectiveness, and drive quality and productivity improvements. In addition, attendees will be given a roadmap for developing and executing their own plan with the latest technologies.

Value Creation and Competitive Advantages with Industry 4.0

Kicking off the conference on the morning of October 5 is Dave Plomin, partner, strategy and operations, with Plante Moran, PLLC. He’ll share tips on how to measure and maximize an Industry 4.0 investment not only to enhance productivity but also to achieve greater scalability and flexibility, and to create data-driven value. 

“I’ll highlight for attendees real-world solutions to open the door to ‘what’s possible,’” he says, “and how to reset your vision based on what you’ve accomplished. I’ll also share insights into how other SMMs are using predictive capabilities and automation to reduce costs, improve interactions with customers and suppliers, and achieve a competitive advantage.”

Following Plomin’s opening keynote, Mark Merino, digital factory solutions director for Polaris Automation, Inc., will cut through the hype about Industry 4.0. “IoT, edge devices and APIs are great,” he says, “but connecting these to existing operational technology infrastructures to retrieve the right data in the right context can be elusive, and often is left to the operations group to figure out. 

“My presentation,” he continues, “will lay out a proven roadmap that has been used by worldclass manufacturers to implement their Industry 4.0 strategy on the factory floor, throughout multiple lines and locations, and will offer a valuable list of dos and don’ts to follow based on lessons learned.”

Two Dynamic Case Studies

Featured presentations include a pair of case studies describing Industry 4.0 strategies in place at two metal forming companies: Trans-Matic and Wiegel (formerly Wiegel Tool Works). First, attendees will hear from Trans-Matic global IT director Mike Kroll, presenting along with Industry 4.0 expert Craig Scott, founder of MFGx, on Trans-Matic’s strategic approach to investigating and implementing Industry 4.0 disciplines to improve performance, including automating data collection and reporting. 

As explained to MetalForming by Trans-Matic executive vice president of global operations Jeff Sotok earlier this year, the firm recently had an IoT assessment performed by The Right Place, a Grand Rapids, MI, consulting group that, through a state grant, is working with Western Michigan manufacturers. 

Industry 4.0

At a Glance

When: October 5-6, 2022

Where: Amada Schaumburg Solutions Center, Schaumburg, IL

Attendees will enjoy a facility tour to see Amada’s latest machine-tool technology, including:

  • Fiber laser cutting-machine technology
  • Automatic tool-change technology for press brakes
  • Fiber laser welding
  • Servo-driven turret punch presses.


  • Through September 19: $399; $199 for PMA members 
  • After September 19: $449; $249 for PMA members
  • Virtual Registration: $299; $125 for PMA members

Hotel Accommodations: 

Hyatt Regency Schaumburg (special conference rates)

More information:

“This year,” said Sotok, “our strategic plan calls for us to investigate and learn about the pillars of Industry 4.0, and then focus in certain areas where we can make an impact.” Scott and Kroll will explain what Industry 4.0 means to Trans-Matic, and describe the company’s transformation timeline and the role that MFGx will play. They’ll also discuss the firm’s plan for shop-floor integration and integration of its quality lab, and its new production-recording system. Finally, they’ll explain the benefits that Trans-Matic expects to realize from its Industry 4.0 strategy, and outline what’s next. 

For Wiegel, where business is expected to double during the next 2 yr. and triple over a 4-yr. span, Industry 4.0 initiatives, in particular automation, stand center stage. Company president Aaron Wiegel will explore with conference attendees the company’s deep dive into automation and robotics.
“Five years ago, we had zero robots,” Wiegel told me back in June. “Today we have 40. These investments have allowed us to stabilize labor and still grow production. And competitively, we decided to offer higher starting wages than many other companies in the area and at the same time, in a domino effect, increase the wages of existing employees.”

To further help metal formers understand and leverage opportunities to implement automated solutions in the press room, Todd Wenzel, president of TCR Integrated Stamping Systems, will address these critical questions that every metal forming executive should be asking themselves and their management teams:

  • How do you decide when and where to automate?
  • What operations commonly are automated?
  • How are these investments justified?

“I’ll explore these topics and more,” Wenzel pledges, “to help metal forming companies bring automated solutions—fixed automation as well as flexible systems—into their operations.”

Condition Monitoring, Sensor Selection and AM

To discuss best practices that metal forming companies can use when installing continuous conditioning-monitoring technology, Joe Bortolameolli, a product specialist at Brankamp Corp., will guide conference attendees through the process of optimizing equipment throughput and consistency. Bortolameolli will explain how this technology helps shops reduce maintenance costs by making accurate record-taking more straightforward and available in real time.

Want to better understand the various types of sensors available to help companies implement condition-monitoring technology and for other Industry 4.0 applications? It’s hard to find someone better suited to cover this critical Industry 4.0 dimension than Will Health III, global supply chain information officer at Balluff. Healy also will share advice on sensor selection, best practices for implementation and more.

Finally, learn from several case studies describing how metal formers and fabricators are leveraging AM to quickly and efficiently evolve from idea to end part, whether tooling up a bending cell or empowering system integrators. Speakers: Daniel Leong, product marketing manager, and Ross Adams, product manager, Markforged. MF

Industry-Related Terms: Bending, Case, Center, Dimension, DOS, Edge, Forming, LASER, Lines, Turret
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Precision Metalforming Association

Technologies: Additive Manufacturing, Management, Pressroom Automation


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