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Smart Industry 2017: What not to miss for maintenance and reliability professionals

Get the inside track on 4 upcoming MRO-centered highlights at next week's event

By Thomas Wilk, editor in chief

This is the third year for the Smart Industry conference, produced and hosted by Plant Services sister publication Smart Industry. For three days, Sept. 18–20, industry leaders and a range of professionals who have boots-on-the-ground experience implementing smart technologies to better manage their manufacturing operations will converge on Chicago to talk digital transformation.

However, for the first time, there will be a dedicated programming track that explores the ways that maintenance, reliability, and operations professionals are using digital technologies to root out sources of downtime and reduced productivity. The terms "Industry 4.0" and "IIoT" may be at the top of their hype cycle, but this track will combine case study presentations with forum discussions designed to help you understand where digital tech can add value at your facility.

What else can an MRO professional expect from Smart Industry 2017?

1. Tu 9/19, 11:15a.m. / Julie Lindley, Marketing Director, Total Water Management and Commercial Digital Solutions, Ecolab Nalco Water – "Ecolab Tackles Water Scarcity with Big Data." One of the reasons I've settled back in Chicago is to raise my family next to one of the largest freshwater bodies in the world. MRO professionals are challenged every day to maximize the use of natural resources, and few plants have the luxury of being located close to one of the Great Lakes. In this presentation, you can learn from Julie Lindley how Ecolab is harnessing big data technologies to analyze billions of data points fed from Ecolab sensors in thousands of plants, in order to accelerate how industries worldwide tackle water scarcity as well as ensure their own operational reliability.

2. W 9/20, 10:30a.m. / Joe Ghislain, Senior Manager, Lean Supplier Optimization, Ford Motor Co. and Compressed Air Challenge instructor –  "Compressed Air Systems Advance, Support Digital Manufacturing at Ford." Ask any MRO professional where the bulk of their OpEx energy budget goes, and they will tell you "compressed air". Yet the first wave of advances made to integrate digital and remote monitoring technologies into compressed air systems have largely flown under the radar. Join Joe Ghislain as he shares how digital technology is remaking the performance expectations of compressed air systems, and explains how to prepare your own systems by applying the Compressed Air Challenge’s system approach to improve efficiency.

3. W 9/20, 8:30a.m. / Jose Rivera, CEO, Control System Integrators Association – "Digital Age Presents New Opportunities, Challenges for Automation Ecosystem."  Plant Services has been fortunate to share Rivera's perspective on how he sees digitization changing the nature of maintenance, from the future of smart manufacturing to the ways that technology is changing the nature of business models from the ground up. Don't miss his thoughts on how you network and partner with some of the best friends an MRO professional can have these days to help ease your digital transition – the system integrators and other engineering services firms.

4. Networking / exploring Chicago – Some Chicago natives put up with the tough winters for the sake of the beauty of summer emerging in May and June. For me, there is nothing better than a crisp autumn day in the city, as everyone around you savors the last few weeks of light jacket weather as well as the beauty of September sunrises over the lake. If you're traveling in for Smart Industry, there will be plenty of local natives eager to show off their favorite places downtown and near the Loop. And if you're local, maybe this is finally the excuse you need to take the evening off with a colleague or two and go see Hamilton!

There's still plenty of time to register for Smart Industry 2017. To join us, register for the conference at As a bonus for Plant Services readers, enter code "PS" when you register to get a $150 discount.

Or, if you're interested and want to know more, or are already attending and would like to connect at the event, just email me at It's going to be a busy and rewarding week – do not throw away your shot to attend! I looking forward to seeing you there.


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