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SME’s new CEO won’t let up on continuous improvement

Brett Brune
By Brett Brune Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing

FIELD INTELLIGENCE: Smart Processes, Solutions & Strategies

The adoption of smart manufacturing processes reminds Bob Willig of his “lean manufacturing journey, years ago,” he said. “Lean journeys never really have a beginning or ending. They strive for continuous improvement and advancement. I see smart manufacturing as much the same: adopting new technologies and capabilities to serve our industry, and striving for those new uses every day.”

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Industry 4.0 “continues to offer manufacturers the opportunity to take the idea of a visual factory to another level, using digital tools and connectivity of processes and machines to improve efficiencies,” said Bob Willig. He joined SME as its CEO and executive director in January.

As SME’s new CEO, Willig advises companies to “treat their people as assets, and continue to help them improve every day,” he said. “Stay ahead of the technology curve. Dynamic, forward-thinking companies are what we need as we pivot to post-pandemic.”

Smart Manufacturing asked Willig to dig into some of his plans for addressing the needs of its readers. For starters, he said he would make sure SME focuses on:

  • “Resuming some pre-pandemic activities,” such as RAPID+TCT, when it is safe to do so—“in the back half of 2021.”
  • “Pivoting to new, more efficient ways of serving the manufacturing community.” Tooling U-SME’s work developing educational and training programs, “including the use of virtual and augmented reality for learning and workforce development,” will continue to evolve this year, he said.
  • Building on the success SME experienced with its Best of SMX virtual event—held in late October—by hosting “more of these type events and other digital and online activities.”
  • Continuing to publish “cutting-edge print and online content.” He pointed to coverage of coronavirus vaccine development last year, which involved use of the cloud, as well as AI and machine learning.

Willig also displayed clear passion for Industry 4.0 and additive manufacturing (AM). AM “is only limited by our imagination and the preparation of our workforce to take advantage of all it has to offer,” he said.

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