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Manufacturing 4.0 Leaders Move into the Spotlight

Top winners of the 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Awards, honored at a recent gala event, are leading the Manufacturing 4.0 charge. By Jeff Moad

Members of the Merck & Co., Inc., team celebrate winning the Manufacturer of the Year Large Enterprise Award at the ML Awards Gala.

As most manufacturers have learned over the past few years, getting to a more digitized, data-driven and technology-infused future is a complex, multi-faceted proposition. Manufacturers must not only learn the capabilities and limitations of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing, they must rethink what leadership, organizational structures, and workforce skills will be required to successfully navigate the Manufacturing 4.0 journey.

If the top winners of the 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Awards are any indication, however, an emerging vanguard of industry leaders is mastering the M4.0 formula, moving beyond proof-of-concept projects and isolated initiatives by scaling digitization to gain global competitive advantage.

Merck, IBM, LION Vallen Industries, and other top 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Awards winners are setting the bar higher, first by pioneering manufacturing use cases for key M4.0 technologies and, second, by showing how these technologies, along with new M4.0 leadership approaches and organizational structures, can be implemented across global supply chains to drive strategy and competitiveness.

In June, winners of the ML Awards were honored at a black tie gala event in Huntington Beach, CA., where the top winners of the 2019 were revealed.

Among the top 2019 ML Awards winners announced in June were two companies honored as Manufacturers of the Year and one individual Manufacturing Leader of the Year. The Manufacturers of the Year—one a large enterprise and one a smaller company with annual revenues under $1 billion—were selected by the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Judging Panel as the most compelling initiatives from among all 80 winners of the 2019 ML Awards.

The Manufacturing Leader of the Year was selected by the ML Awards Judges as the most outstanding manufacturing leader from among the winners of the program’s Visionary Leadership Awards for individuals.

And, for the sixth time in its 15-year history, the ML Awards also announced a winner of its Lifetime Achievement Award, given to a leader whose career-long spirit and achievements have significantly advanced the manufacturing industry.

Other top winners announced at the ML Awards Gala included nine High Achiever Award winners. These special winners were judged the most impressive in each of the ML Awards project categories.

And given special recognition were nine manufacturing technology providers that received ML Partner Awards in recognition of their roles in supporting ML Award-winning manufacturers this year.

These top Manufacturing Leadership Awards winners are demonstrating, through their ability to scale cutting-edge technologies and advanced leadership concepts across global supply chains, that Manufacturing 4.0 is indeed changing the competitive landscape in manufacturing.

Following are brief profiles of the projects and individual achievements that were honored with top Manufacturing Leadership Awards in 2019:

Manufacturing Leader of the Year
Ron Castro
Vice President, Supply Chain and Chief Supply Chain Officer, IBM Corporation

Castro has firmly established himself as an outstanding leader in the Manufacturing 4.0 era by embracing emerging technologies and driving their successful adoption across his global organization—with resources in over 30 countries and serving customers in more than 170 countries. Castro has forged an engaged and inclusive organization that is driving innovation and accelerating a bold transformation of IBM’s Supply Chain toward what it calls the world’s first Cognitive Supply Chain. Just as importantly, Castro and IBM have established themselves as industry benchmarks, sharing much of what they have learned on their accelerated path to Manufacturing 4.0. For example, Castro’s initiatives in Blockchain technology, are providing unique solutions to a wide range of supply chain challenges. Castro has also taken a keen interest in developing the next-generation of manufacturing leaders. Castro has led global initiatives focused on attracting and integrating new and diverse talent into existing operations while developing existing talent through creative programs.


IBM Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer Ron Castro (second from left) accepts the Manufacturing Leader of the Year Award from the MLC’s (from left) David Brousell, David Mongrue, and Jeff Moad

Manufacturer of the Year
Merck & Co., Inc.
(Large Enterprise)

The Merck team demonstrated a rare combination of technology vision and sure-handed execution. Merck’s Project Ivan was a bold approach to using drones to deliver much-needed medications to areas impacted by disaster.

It’s Gardasil Vaccine – OpEx for Cancer Prevention project showcased an inspired, multi-site initiative to increase production of a much-in-demand cancer drug while maintaining quality.

And its Enterprise 3D: Where Physical meets Digital project, a 4-year initiative to establish state-of-the-art additive manufacturing and 3D printing capabilities across the company, has established the company as an industrial additive manufacturing leader.

Manufacturer of the Year
LION-Vallen Industries
(Small/Medium Enterprise)

LVI, a maker of personal protective equipment for first-responders and war fighters, faced stiff competition from some of the world’s largest industrial corporations and rising customer expectations. Its response was the Global Supply Chain Enhancement Project, a multi-faceted initiative that transformed everything from LVI’s supply chain capabilities, to how it collaborates with partners and how it prepares senior and next-generation leaders for the challenges of the Manufacturing 4.0 era.

Results of this comprehensive project include significantly lower operating costs for LVI and its government customers, better supply chain visibility and accuracy. Just as importantly, LVI has a more energized, better trained, and fully engaged leadership team with which to attack the challenges of tomorrow.


LION-Vallen Industries Senior Vice President Jay Pavlick (third from left) receives the Manufacturer of the Year Small/Medium Enterprise Award from the MLC’s (from left) David Brousell, Val Zanchuk, and Jeff Moad

Lifetime Achievement Award
Jim Davis
Vice Provost IT and Chief Academic Technology Officer, UCLA, and Principal Investigator and CIO Advisor, Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute

In his distinguished, 45-year career, Jim Davis has established himself as the model of a collaborative leader, working persistently, effectively—often behind the scenes—to advance the cause of U.S. manufacturing.

With a keen intellect and unique ability to work with leaders from powerful industry, academic, and government institutions, Jim has pioneered the concept of Smart Manufacturing, effectively making the case that it is a core component of future U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.

Jim’s deep experience in manufacturing technology and IT came together in the early 2000 as he became a pioneering driver of Smart Manufacturing. In 2005, Jim was a central figure in pulling together a committee of high-powered individuals from industry and academia for which he authored an influential paper that coined the term “smart manufacturing.”

That led Jim and collaborators to form the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition, a collection of leading academic and industrial organizations that demonstrated the first open smart manufacturing platform.

So influential was Jim’s work on smart manufacturing that the concept became a central element in reports by the president’s council on science technology on manufacturing competitiveness and, ultimately, contributed momentum to the creation of 14 national manufacturing institutes operated under the Manufacturing USA umbrella.

In 2016, Jim and SMLC colleagues received $140 million in public and private investment to launch one of those institutes, the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Institute in Los Angeles which is working to spur advances with the digitalization of U.S. manufacturing and how to restructure manufacturing practice to radically increase the effective use of data throughout the manufacturing enterprise.


Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Jim Davis, UCLA Vice Provost IT and Chief Academic Technology Officer and Principal Investigator and CIO Advisor at the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, addresses the ML Awards Gala audience.


High Achiever Awards
High Achievers are ML Award Winners that have received the highest scores in the nine project categories.


Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics Leadership
Cisco Systems, Inc. 
Cisco’s Fully-Connected Customer Experience Project achieved a digital transformation aimed at allowing the company to engage more effectively with customers. Leveraging AI, machine learning and data science, it created a fully-connected experience that spans the customer lifecycle.

Collaborative Innovation Leadership
Samtec, Inc.
To drive collaboration with customers and get new products to market faster, Sammtec created a first-of-its-kind Electronic Component Configurator that generates Instant Digital Samples. The approach resulted in an unmatched digital customer experience.

Engineering and Production Technology Leadership
IBM Corporation
IBM’s Systems Hardware Design for Excellence Process Project introduced a game-changing new end-to-end review process that dramatically enhanced collaboration between product design engineering and manufacturing engineering groups. The process, supported by patented software, lets IBM company get designs right the first time while improving quality.

Enterprise Integration and Technology Leadership
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin’s Smart Digital Factory Shop Floor Management Project brought to life a milestone platform that tied together machines across the sprawling company. The company gained unprecedented real-time visibility into machine usage across the enterprise and new levels of collaboration between manufacturing engineers and operators to improve designs and factory performance.

Industrial Internet of Things Leadership
Kamco Industries, 
(A Subsidiary of Kumi Kasei)
Kamco undertook a multi-year digital transformation that, among other things, saw it pull and utilize real time data pulled from its connected shop floor equipment and leverage augmented reality tools to better collaborate with customers.

Operational Excellence Leadership
Starkey Hearing Technologies
Starkey created a detailed map of every customer touch point and metric-driven action plans, all designed to drive exceptional customer loyalty through a truly intimate and memorable customer experience. The result has been happier customers and increased market share.

Supply Chain Leadership
Merck & Company, Inc.
After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 and left thousands of residents unable to obtain essential medicines, Merck launched Project Ivan to deliver medications by cargo delivery drone. The company is now innovating more ways that drones can extend existing supply chains.

Sustainability Leadership
Oracle, over several years, has developed a global product take-back program that enables it to recover, reuse, and recycle returned equipment. The company has taken back around three million pounds of product a year for the past several years, reusing much of it as spare and replacement parts.

Talent Management Leadership
The Raymond Corp.
Facing a serious and growing labor gap, Raymond High Achiever created a Virtual Reality Simulator, which provides operators with hands-on instruction and a simulated environment. The approach has increased retention rates and improved safety while reducing costs.

Manufacturing Leadership Awards Partners
ML Awards Partners provided leading technology solutions and expertise to select 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Awards winners.

– Predictronics Corp.
– CADENAS PARTsolutions
– FORCAM, Inc.
– Infor
– Plex Systems
– Oracle Corp.
– Epicor Software 
– Corporation
– Tata Consultancy Services
– Dassault Systèmes


2019 ManufacturingLeadership Awards Judges

Billy Bardin, Global Operations Technology Director, The Dow Chemical Company
David R. Brousell, Co-Founder, Vice President, Executive Director, Manufacturing Leadership Council
Ronald Castro, Vice President, Supply Chain, and Chief, Supply Chain Officer, IBM
Caralynn Collens, CEO, UI Labs
Michele D’Alessandro, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Manufacturing IT, Merck & Co., Inc.
John Gagel, Global Senior Manager, Corporate Sustainability, Lexmark International
Allison Grealis, Founder and President, Women in Manufacturing
Brad Heath, CEO, VirTex Enterprises
Dennis Hoeg, Vice President, North America Chief Operating Officer, Nexteer Automotive
Praveen Jonnala, Vice President, Global Business Solutions Development, Commscope
Michael Packer, Director, Advanced Manufacturing Programs, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works
T Sarangarajan, Senior Vice President, Operations, Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited
Selden O. Swain, Global Head of Production, Triumph Intertrade AG
Val Zanchuk, President, Graphicast Inc.


Sanjiv Patel, Cisco Systems director of data sciences, Connected Digital Interactions, accepts the High Achiever Award from the MLC’s Penelope Brown and Paul Tate.


The MLC’s Penelope Brown (left) and Paul Tate (right) present the Next-Generation Leadership Awards to (from left) Zohair Mehkri of Flex, Callie Sher of NutriPack, LLC, and Kristi Dunham of the Dow Chemical Company



The 15th annual Manufacturing Leadership Summit focused on the next phase of the fourth industrial revolution, one characterized by more enterprise-scale projects.


Tony Topencik, senior director of operations at The Raymond Corp., accepts the High Achiever Award in the Talent Management Leadership Category, from the MLC’s Penelope Brown and Paul Tate.


Manufacturing Leadership Awards Partners receive their awards from the MLC’s David Brousell (far left) and Lauren Bisset (far right.)

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