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New Manufacturing Views from ProMat 2015

April 1, 2015
Two of the conference's keynote speakers, Apple's Steve Wozniak and Google's Renee Niemi, talk the current state and future of manufacturing.
Two of the conference's keynote speakers, Apple’s Steve Wozniak and Google’s Renee Niemi, talk the current state and future of manufacturing.

Among the huge array of new technology on display at the at the ProMat 2015 material handling trade show, and couple industry heavyweights were on hand to speak.

Apple’s Steve Wozniak and Google’s Renee Niemi highlighted speakers. Among many topics, both hit on what many attendees were there to hear about. Wozniak talked new innovations, including those from the company he co-founded. And Niemi gave her insight on mobile platforms, and the Internet of Things. 

Wozniak isn’t necessarily a true believer in all tech innovations, even those pushed forward by the company he founded. As one of the keynote speakers at ProMat 2015, Woz opined, for instance, that 3-D printing might be overhyped, with only limited applications for consumers due to various limitations, such as the amount of time it takes to print something (hours and hours) and the limitations of the materials that the printers can handle.

He’s also a bit skeptical of the need for the gadget of the hour. “The Apple that’s selling a $17,000 iWatch doesn’t seem like the same Apple that once helped to move the world forward with its products.”

On the other hand, he’s quite enthused about the prospects of self-driving vehicles and delivery drones. “If I could order something from Amazon and get it delivered it to me in 15 minutes, I’d do it. And it’ll be that kind of instant gratification that could help drive development and adoption of drones.”

Speaking of revolutions, Renee Niemi, director of the Android and Chrome global business at Google for Work and another keynote speaker at ProMat 2015, has been closely monitoring what some call the 4th Industrial Revolution (or Industry 4.0), and what others call the Internet of Things. No matter what you call it, this revolution involves the marriage of information and materials to the point that products, to the point where products of all types are internetworked and intelligent, in the sense that they carry accessible and actionable information.

“Industry 4.0 isn’t just about products and systems, though,” Niemi points out. “It’s also and mostly about people. So as we set out to adapt our supply chains for Industry 4.0, how do we change the culture of our businesses so that people will accept and embrace this revolution?” 

The full article from ProMat 2015 along more from Steve Wozniak and Renee Niemi on Material Handling and Logistics.

Material Handling and Logisitcs is an NED companion site with Penton’s Manufacturing and Supply Chain Group.