Knoxville News Sentinel Article on Innaugral RAMP Trade Conference and Expo

Manufacturing group hosts first trade fair next week

Consortium promotes advanced tech

By Ed Marcum

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RAMP, a group trying to promote advanced manufacturing in East Tennessee, is holding its first trade fair Monday and Tuesday.

The RAMP Trade Conference and Expo will be held at the Worlds Fair Holiday Inn Conference Center 5-7 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday. RAMP stands for Regional Advanced Manufacturing Partnership and is a consortium of about 50 companies.

Buzz Patrick, RAMP executive director, said he hopes the event will inspire manufacturers.

­I hope it encourages manufacturers and gives them ideas for not only technology but ways to work together and collaborate and find relationships that will be beneficial,he said.

About 30 exhibitors and 300 participants have registered for the event, Patrick said.

Monday will consist of a kickoff reception with Jeffery Liker as the keynote speaker. Liker, a University of Michigan industrial engineering professor, wrote­The Toyota Way,about that companys system for helping people continually improve their work.

Tuesday will be a day of presentations, live equipment demonstrations and chances to network and develop business prospects. Besides manufacturers and suppliers, experts from the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be doing presentations and leading sessions.

­I think one of the biggest things we are doing is workforce sessions,Patrick said.­We will be talking about information sharing on employee retention and decreasing turnover. We hope to engage our workforce partners such as community colleges. Some interesting technologies will be highlighted in the demonstrations, Patrick said.

One involves a GPSstyle electronic tracking system to monitor the location of automated equipment at a plant. Another device can be used to do a 3D scan of an entire factory and convert that to drawings. There should also be several demonstrations of metal and plastic 3D printing, he said.

There is no admission charge, and information is online at