The Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition’s (SMLC) Board of Directors has elected Jim Wetzel, Technical Director of General Mills, to succeed Dean Bartles as Chair, effective immediately.

CEO Denise Swink, states, “Jim Wetzel is well-recognized for his ability to strategize, lead large teams and drive technology growth and innovation at great scale. With 35 years of experience in the manufacturing industry, Jim understands exactly, the critical need for SMLC’s existence and mission to tap into uncharted territories in today’s manufacturing space. Wetzel is uniquely qualified to lead SMLC to the next level of the coalition’s juncture. There is no doubt that Jim Wetzel is the right person to lead SMLC at this important time, and he has the unanimous support of our Board.”

Wetzel is currently the Technical Director – Platform Center of Excellence at General Mills Inc. He has 35 years of industry experience, starting with 6 years in the Plastics Industry and 29 years in the Food Industry with GMI. While at General Mills, Jim has had roles in proprietary machine design, Manufacturing System Improvement and Optimization, Product Improvement, Project Management, System Engineering, Control and Information Systems, MES Application Development and Platform Reliability.

In Wetzel’s current role he is responsible for optimizing the existing asset base in GMI Manufacturing Plants. Specifically centered on GMI’s strategic operating platforms, this function is responsible to improve, extend and sustain the assets of Manufacturing through reliability/maintenance, system optimization, and technical innovation. In Jim’s most recent role he was responsible for Manufacturing Execution Systems, Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence, Maintenance Applications, Engineering Tools (Enterprise project and portfolio management, Process Simulation and Sharepoint /Collaboration for the Technical Community), Control and Information Technical Innovation and Next Generation Application Architecture.

In 1993 Wetzel led the development of General Mills’ MES system. Today it is installed throughout GMI’s plants globally. It has driven significant productivity and quality improvements. This system captures more than 100 Million data points a day across the enterprise and delivers many of the KPI’s for GMI Supply Chain as well as core MES functionality.

“It is an honor to Chair the coalition at this important moment in the organization’s journey,” said Wetzel. “SMLC brings together thought leaders from across the nation to take action, and develop the nation’s first open smart manufacturing platform that will revolutionize the manufacturing industry. I look forward to realizing this vision that many of us have shared.”

Vice Chair, John Bernaden, states, “On behalf of the entire membership, we thank Jim Wetzel for his unwavering leadership, remarkable vision and forward-looking focus that has been instrumental to SMLC’s industry-driven direction and success.”

On February, 25, President Obama announced that UI LABS, a nonprofit research and development organization won the Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation (DMDI) Institute solicitation. Dean Bartles was selected as Executive Director of the new Institute. To assume this newly created position in UI LABS, Dean took an early retirement from General Dynamics and has transitioned as SMLC’s Chair into an active advisory role. CEO Swink states, “Dean’s new role with UI LABS is well-deserved given his leadership, strong advocacy for U.S. Manufacturing competitiveness and his drive to create change. We are excited for Dean, a champion for the SMLC and advanced manufacturing, in leading the nation’s third National Network for Manufacturing Innovation institute. We are pleased Dean will stay actively involved with the SMLC in this new, important capacity as Chair Emeritus.”

“It has been an honor to work with our members to move SMLC on a clear path toward continued long-term growth and collaboration,” said Bartles. “I believe SMLC is on the right track, and I’m excited to engage and support the SMLC in my new advisory role as Chair Emeritus to the Board. I’m confident that under Wetzel’s leadership, SMLC’s comprehensive vision for manufacturing will come to fruition.”

The SMLC is a non-profit organization comprised of manufacturing practitioner, supplier, and technology companies; manufacturing consortia; universities; federal agency and government laboratories. SMLC is building the nation’s first open SM Platform for collaborative industrial-networked information applications through at-scale demonstrations. The SM Platform enables manufacturing companies of all sizes to gain easy, affordable access to modeling and analytical technologies that can be tailored to meet cross-industry business-case objectives without having to retrofit existing systems. SMLC envisions a 21st century SM enterprise (from suppliers, OEMs, and companies to supply chains) that is fully integrated, knowledge-enabled, and model rich. Such visibility across the enterprise (internal and external) would radically improve the ability to inform decisions and drive action.

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