Getting to Know One Another Again: The 2021 South Carolina Manufacturing Conference and Expo

While last year’s virtual manufacturing conference was interesting, it was not the same as being in person together this year in Greenville from November 10 – 12 for this year’s Manufacturing Conference.

There are so many memorable moments from the conference that could be discussed. The educational tracks were excellent, the speakers were engaging, and the awards were noteworthy.

And as many are aware, Chuck Spangler’s absence was felt throughout the conference. In his role as the President of the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Chuck was one of the State’s stalwart voices for manufacturers large and small. The tribute to Chuck during the award’s ceremony was moving. He will be sorely missed.

The exhibit hall was fantastic. Manufacturers were able to talk with potential partners for a broad range of support. Highlighted below are some of the exhibitors who were glad to share their offerings.

Industry 4.0.  There were many providers of Industry 4.0 technology. Gemba Systems had two technologies they were sharing:  augmented reality remoted assistance and positioning technology. Talking with Alain and CEO Stijn Van de Velde about their solutions was very enlightening. Gemba Systems is offering cutting edge technology.

Bosch Rexroth had a large booth on the exhibit floor. It was impressive that Bosch Rexroth takes the range of technology proven in Bosch’s many plants and then markets these solutions along with the integration expertise to manufacturers.  Chris Mercurio, Chris Mueller, and Jamie Fox took time to explain the breadth of their expertise. Our discussion about autonomous mobile robots (AMR) was most interesting.

A finalist for the Innovator of the Year Award, Delta Bravo helps manufacturers turn the mountains of data collected on the factory floor into predictive models that reduce risk and waste while increasing throughput and quality.

Rick Oppedisano, President and CEO and Ashley West, Sales Representative (pictured right), demonstrated the power of the Artificial Intelligence to help solve some of a plant’s most challenging issues. Delta Bravo worked with Nucor steel to reduce scrap in one plant by 17%.

Human Resource Support. There were several Human Resource (HR) companies present in the exhibit hall. Small to mid-size manufacturers find it hard to justify permanently staffing the HR functions, and justifiably so.

Outsourcing activities such as payroll, benefits, and training & development to experts is often appropriate., as explained by Lisa Laseter, provides manufacturers with options for benefits, a complete HR certified handbook, a learning management system (LMS) to support learning & development and compliance training, and strategies to foster employee engagement.

HR Experts on Demand led by President Jennifer B. Floyd also supports manufacturers with needs in the Human Resources area. HR Experts on Demand is dedicated to helping businesses assess, improve and manage their talent related activities for maximum business performance.

Jennifer provides employee and leadership development, total rewards and compensation analysis, HR consulting, compliance, and corporate coaching solutions.

Marketing. Manufacturers optimize how they handle their internal process (Industry 4.0) and people (HR) strategies. As these challenges are addressed, manufacturers also focus on the market. There were several firms in the exhibit hall with which to discuss these market challenges.

Drum creative led by President and CEO Joe LaPenna is a digital marketing agency. Drum focuses on web design, search engine optimization, branding, photography, and video production.

With regards to web design, Drum’s approach is to help manufacturers develop a website that shows people how your products help solve their problems, which in turn generates leads for your business. They also provide the technical support to manage the website for optimal performance.

Salem Surround partners with manufacturers to deliver prescriptive marketing solutions to meet their goals and exceed their expectations.

As a Media Strategist, Joleen Whelchel explained the breadth of capabilities of Salem Surround.  With three Upstate radio stations and digital marketing capability, Salem Surround helps to build relationships between their clients and customers.

There were many, many other types of companies represented by many individuals. There were construction companies like B.L. Harbert International  represented by Milton Davis who have built factories all over the Southeastern United States and the world. There were also hospitality companies who were present.

The Hilton Hotel chain provided breakfast and ice cream to exhibitors throughout the hall. There was also the opportunity to expand your network. The Industrial Network Group (ING) was represented by Shaylan Simmons, Chris Simmons, and Paul Dunn with over 300 members in 10 states. ING has become a valuable resource to manufacturing plants, facilities, and sales professionals.

The South Carolina Manufacturing Conference and Expo would not have been possible without the conference partners:  SC BIZ News, SCMEP, the SC Council on Competitiveness, SCRA, and the SC Technical College System.

Many thanks to their leadership in organizing and developing the great content for participants.

Most of all, thanks for creating the opportunity to once again be in person and to be able to get to know one another, face-to-face. Can’t wait to meet more manufacturing partners at next year’s conference.

About the Author: Mike Ungar is a Certified FocalPoint Business Coach and Trainer.  He has 35 years of experience with Michelin in manufacturing and human resources.  Mike is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and the Clemson MBA program.

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