CHICAGO - The third day of IMTS began on the shores of Lake Michigan with the Miles for Manufacturing 5K run/walk to raise money for manufacturing education. 

Since its debut at IMTS 2014, the Miles for Manufacturing 5K has taken place around the country and raised more than $60,000 to promote careers in manufacturing. Proceeds from today's event will support FIRST® Illinois robotics teams, FIRST® Indiana robotics teams, the Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program, and STEM middle schools in the Chicago Public School System (CPS), among others. 

Quality spoke with P.J. Gruetzmacher, president and CEO of LAI International, at the IMTS 2018, to learn how his company implemented smart manufacturing projects. Here he explains how they did it and offers his advice on how to get started today.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Back at McCormick Place, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner described what drives manufacturing growth in the state. He cited the talent and people, innovation at places like the University of Chicago, access to transportation and role as a distribution hub, and low energy costs as factors for growth. 

Just as the technology continues to change at every IMTS, so does the manufacturing landscape. This year panelists discussed social media marketing for manufacturers and offered tips on connecting with your customers. (While using celebrity names as a hashtag may seem like an easy way to promote your Instagram post, it isn't likely to help you connect with the right audience.)

Developing a strong workforce continues to be a push for manufacturers today. SME hosted a smart manufacturing panel earlier in the week to discuss what's being done and how companies can recruit the next generation. (The group was not just talking about it either. Several people at the event described getting their cab driver's email address to follow up with more information about manufacturing.) 

P.J. Gruetzmacher, president and CEO of LAI International, continues to work on this issue with his advanced manufacturing company. He described the push towards the factory of the future taking place at the company, and encouraged the attendees to promote automation without taking away jobs. By emphasizing how technology can make processes easier and provide instantaneous feedback about bad parts, operators can become inspectors and streamline their work. 

And no discussion of manufacturing today would be complete without reference to additive manufacturing. EOS debuted a new 3D printer at the show that solves some previous additive challenges and speeds up the build process. The company described the rapid growth of additive in the aerospace industry--"It's always going from hot to hotter," said Jon Walker, automotive specialist and area sales manager at EOS North America — as companies that compete with NASA strive to lightweight products.  In addition, he said that the automotive industry continues to delve into additive applications, whether it is in customization, autonomous or electric vehicles. 

Click here to read about day two!