Economic Development, Manufacturing, and Technology

Conference focuses on manufacturing and technology

November 7, 2016
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Jeff Disher
Jeff Disher. Photo via

Manufacturing leaders will come together downtown on Wednesday to talk about the convergence of manufacturing and technology in West Michigan.

The Right Place and the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West, or MMTC-West, have teamed up to host the Manufacturing Technology xChange, a full-day conference that’s being held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.

Tim Mroz, VP of marketing and communications at The Right Place in Grand Rapids, said there's been an increase in the emergence of technology, robotics and automation throughout the manufacturing process, “from material receiving all the way through shipping and quality management,” and the trend isn’t going away.

“What can we do to help West Michigan manufacturers prepare for, take advantage of and not (just) react to it as it continues to strengthen?” Mroz said.

He said that is the premise of the conference.

The event will feature 13 industry speakers who will talk about technology as it relates to manufacturing during a handful of panels being held throughout the day.

Mroz said the conference is targeted toward small-to-medium-size manufacturers that can learn from larger manufacturers in the region.

He said larger West Michigan manufacturers often have robust research and development departments and more resources than smaller manufacturing companies with 100 to 250 employees.

“We want to bring some of the knowledge that may be floating around and bring it to the smaller-level manufacturers,” he said.

The conference’s agenda and registration information are online.

Conference speakers

Mark Muro, senior fellow and policy director, Brookings Institute

Glenn Stevens, executive director, MICHauto; VP of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives, Detroit Chamber of Commerce

Tom Elswick, director of business development, Siemens

Joern Buss, partner, Oliver Wyman

Dr. Andrew Dent, VP of library and materials research, Material ConneXion

Jeff Disher, owner and president, Disher

Rob Bingle, executive director of innovation, ADAC Automotive

Dave LaHote, retired senior executive, Lean Enterprise Institute; educator, University of Michigan

Mark Lindquist, chairman, Rapid-Line

Cedric Duclos, president and CEO, Hutchinson North America

Bradley Rick, director of the Technical Support Organization, Amway

Mark Desrochers, VP of North American Operations, Herman Miller

Nate Young, VP of Global Innovation, Newell Rubbermaid

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