SME annual conference designed to help manufacturers ride out the economy.

Innovation has been touted in Washington, D.C., as the topic du jour for fixing the economy and has helped companies like Apple and General Electric stay at the top of the stock market’s food chain. During these tough economic times, it may also be the difference between having a bottom line and bottoming out.


Now more than ever, businesses need emerging trends, alternative approaches and the latest processes to improve and change the way they manufacture. To help industries remain both innovative and competitive, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) announces Breaking Through: 2009 SME Annual Conference.


Set for June 7-9, 2009, at the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, the event will bring together SME members, C-level leaders and innovators as well as educators to share breakthrough innovations in technology and success strategies.


“This is a manufacturers’ conference created by SME members who understand the need to innovate in all aspects of the enterprise, as well as the need for effective management strategies,” says Joe LaRussa, annual conference advisor and electronics project manager at Visteon. “It brings you face to face with fellow manufacturers from vital industries like medical, aerospace, defense, automotive and consumer products to collaborate on manufacturing issues like innovation and leadership.” 


The conference’s two-day innovation focus is based largely on SME’s annual Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture list. Not only do innovations such as high-speed sintering, buckypaper and synthetic gecko tape make up the list, so do radical inventions such as wireless power transfer and personal fabrication.


Wireless power transfer allows manufacturers to rethink how they build machines and products without the need for wires to transfer power from a single source. This technology also has major implications for consumers who will soon be able to recharge their cell phones or laptops wirelessly. In the same way, personal fabrication also presents a radical opportunity for consumers to take the power of prototyping and production to home and to school.


“What makes the Innovations list and our corresponding conference stand out is that we’re talking about technology that manufacturers can apply right now to enhance their daily operations,” adds LaRussa.


The Conference is also designed to go beyond the machinations of the manufacturing floor with additional breakout sessions dedicated to such timely management and leadership topics as Leading Through Uncertainty, Staying Sane in Crazy Economic Times, Lean Culture and Coaching Employees Through Change.


“It’s intended to help keep your doors open so today’s economic headlines don’t have to apply to you,” LaRussa says of the conference overall.


Additional conference highlights include:


Keynote Presentation (June 8) – Doug Hall of Eureka! Ranch will discuss how his research of top corporations’ innovation efforts has translated into practical programs to help any size business craft concepts with double or triple the probability of success.


Industry Trends & Developments (June 8) – Representatives from SME’s Technical Community Network (TCN) will deliver presentations on the latest developments and trends in automotive manufacturing and assembly; forming and fabricating; industrial lasers; machining and material removal; manufacturing education and research; plastics, composites and coatings; product and process design and management; and rapid technologies and additive manufacturing.


Legends in Leadership Luncheon (June 8) – Past presidents of SME will give ideas on how to lead during challenging times and will share their experience and expertise on leadership.


SME Poster Session (June 7-9) – The poster session will include SME chapter and technical community activities along with developing manufacturing innovations and research projects.


SME International Honor Awards Gala & Reception (June 8) – SME will pay tribute to individuals who have made an impact on the advancement of manufacturing. The future of manufacturing will also be recognized as the SME Education Foundation’s Directors Scholarships and Family Scholarship are presented.


Tour or Workshop (June 9) – Attendees may choose to tour Southco, a global leader in engineered access hardware, to learn how they integrated environment management into the existing management system through innovation, or participate in Leadership Systems for Growth, an interactive, hands-on workshop that uses applied learning to teach an effective system for leading a team to grow profit with less risk, cost and time to market.


Register for the SME Annual Conference at (800) 733-4763 or (313) 425-3000, ext. 4500; or online at


Source: Society of Manufacturing Engineers