Manufacturers and Tech Companies Alike Find Value in Connections Made at Automation Alley’s Integr8 Conference

Dennis Burck
March 17, 2023
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Automation Alley's Integr8 conference brings together budding startups, industry stalwarts and academic experts to advance the narrative of Industry 4.0 through true connections and collaboration. Don't believe us? We let the experts speak for the conference.

The business technology world is flush with “networking” events. However, far too often these events fall short of their good intentions. Automation Alley’s annual Integr8 conference provides the opportunity to make real-time connections between budding startups, industry stalwarts and academic experts — all under one roof, all at the same time. In fact, last year’s Integr8 exhibitors gathered an average of 25 leads at Integr8, with some exhibitors ranging above 80! Still not convinced to register? The proof is in the pudding. Automation Alley sat down with Matt Myrand, Manufacturing Innovation Director of global automotive supplier Forvia, and Brian Breuhan, Advanced Technology Engineer at General Motors, to discuss how last year’s Integr8 conference changed their businesses.

Forvia Manufacturing Innovation Director Matt Myrand on Integr8:

How would you explain Integr8 to someone attending for the first time?

I’ve been to Integr8 two or three times now. It is a cool collection of like-minded innovative thinkers and the companies and startups that come behind that. There are people within the industry like Tier 1 suppliers like myself, but also a lot of interesting startups and established technology leaders going to the conference to share their solutions with the industry.

You made a connection last year at the show with Ati Motors and their Automated Ground Vehicle (AGV) solutions. How did this happen?

We are in the digital transformation phase and have about 1,800 AGVs installed globally. We look at a lot of tunneling or turtling AGVs that can go under a rack, pick it up and move it around. The next phase for mobility in our factories is tugger-type solutions and forklift-type AGVs.

Ati had one of their demo units there tugging product and moving a pallet around at Integr8. It was cool to see a live demo of this technology on the spot. We talked to the founders of the company, but they also had a local integrator, which was an attractive part as well. The integrator was up in Flint with units in his facility, so the lead time was small. They had a great, technologically sound solution with an interesting pricing model as well as the availability to get our hand on these tuggers quickly. It was a great fit.

What does your relationship with Ati look like almost a year later?

We’ve installed two of these tuggers in our Columbus, IN plant. It is a long haul of pallet carts where the pallet is loaded onto a cart and is transferred from the warehouse portion of the factory to the assembly portion. It is quite a long distance. We would typically move it with a manual train-like concept, but this takes out all of that travel time. Now it is a two-part marriage system. We have a team member at the warehouse that loads them up and another team member that catches them on the other side to move them into the assembly area. We’ve seen efficiencies in our MOD [Manufacturing on Demand] and transportation loops. It also gave us more of a standardized Takt Time, which is something we are always looking for in a standardized delivery to the lines. It's a win-win for us.  

Do you plan on attending this year?

I plan on being there looking for the next shiny new toy to catch my eye.

GM Advanced Technology Engineer Brian Breuhan on Integr8:

How would you explain Integr8 to someone attending for the first time?

I’d tell them it’s a great way to get introduced to new technology and local businesses investing in and creating that technology. It’s also a good way to connect their understanding with problems you have on the shop floor or in your organization.

You met Detect-It AI and Invisible AI at Integr8 last year. What did you enjoy about what they brought to the table?  

With AI-related companies and vision systems like Detect-It and Invisible AI, both had interesting products that were able to improve productivity and quality. When looking at Invisible AI, it allows you to be able to improve the productivity of your assembly line by using vision systems with an algorithm. It helps you understand where your bottlenecks are.

Detect-It on the other hand is more of an agnostic AI tool, producing and managing an algorithm to be used in any camera, which makes it easier to implement faster.

What’s your relationship with them now?

Right now we are exploring the technology they have and if it applies to us and the technology we have in our organization.

Heading into this year, what are you hoping to get out of the event?

I’m hoping to find some companies similar to what I’ve done in the past with Detect-It and Invisible AI. We want to see companies that are doing anything with XR or extended reality operations as well as companies having to do with AI that can be used in production facilities.

Manufacturing is changing. Industry 4.0 is here to stay. Make the connections to secure your business in the future of advanced manufacturing. Register for Integr8 2023 today at

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Dennis Burck
Dennis Burck

As Automation Alley’s Digital Content Editor, Dennis Burck manages Automation Alley's Industry 4.0 knowledge center, building relationships and collaborating with various internal and external stakeholders, including Automation Alley members and partners, to develop and curate engaging content around advanced manufacturing and digital transformation. Dennis provides in-depth coverage, data-driven reporting and on-the-ground feature stories on the Industry 4.0 transformation. Dennis worked previously as a business journalist for The Construction Association of Michigan and as a reporter for The National Endowment for the Humanities.

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