IMTS Community  Susanne Lauda

Susanne Lauda

Director of Global Advanced Manufacturing Technology at AGCO

Susanne Lauda can't stand another Zoom meeting, so she's eager to get back to face-to-face contacts at IMTS. And she's on a mission to help women and youth get into advanced manufacturing.

In-person Beats Virtual: Lauda Gets Back to Reality at IMTS

Susanne Lauda has a big responsibility – to research and introduce cutting-edge technology that improves operations at AGCO, an agricultural equipment manufacturer with some of the best-known brands in the industry, including tractor manufacturers Massey Fergusson, Challenger, Valtra, and Fendt. As the director of global advanced manufacturing technology, she oversees rollout of product life cycle management systems, manufacturing enterprise systems (MESs), ERPs, and automation at 10 of the company's production facilities around the world.

But even with all the detailed business intelligence, sophisticated data, and cloud-based software at her fingertips, her best insights often come by way of the original connected solution: on-site visits and in-person talks with employees.

I need to see the shop floor and the operations to really understand where the bottlenecks are, and water cooler talk often reveals the real problems, Lauda says. People may share some feedback in a virtual meeting, but when you stand and talk with them, that's when the real problems come out. Trust between people is bigger when you speak face to face.

Going to IMTS is extremely valuable to me because the virtual does not replace the face to face,” Lauda says. “On web calls, it's easy to get bored and check out. You can miss half the content if you start multitasking and don't give a meeting your full attention.”

Encouraging Women Manufacturers

Lauda was the winning bidder of an IMTS 2022 package for two at a Women in Manufacturing (WiM) auction. With continuing concerns about labor shortages, Lauda points to women as a huge pool of talent that is important but overlooked, which is why she supports WiM.

Having a platform for women to meet and talk about their experiences in manufacturing is very important, and that is what Women in Manufacturing provides, Lauda says. It's not only networking, but more importantly, it's an educational opportunity to understand what will be expected from them when they enter the manufacturing world.

Lauda hopes to serve as a role model for other women to help them understand that manufacturing technology is just as interesting as what they would do at tech companies like Google or Amazon.

It's all similar technology, but the difference in manufacturing is you have a real outcome when you apply that technology, Lauda notes. At the end of the day, something rolls out of the door and you were involved in it. It's a point of pride.

The Women Make Manufacturing Move program at IMTS 2022 joined women from around the globe to engage and connect with curated sessions, meet-ups, programming, and receptions.

Developing Your Employees

With the extra IMTS ticket she won at the WiM auction, Lauda plans to bring Tyler Sztuka, a young supply chain engineer, to broaden his understanding of shop floor technology. Attending IMTS will be a huge opportunity for Sztuka to learn more about data maturity and tools for transforming the shop.

I work very closely with the internal team members that make investments into our manufacturing facilities, so I'm excited to bring back what I learn at IMTS to help our manufacturing engineers and purchasing organization make the most informed decisions possible, Sztuka says.

To introduce young people to the world of manufacturing technology, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology sponsors the IMTS Smartforce Student Summit.

Plan of Attack

In advance of IMTS, Lauda will review the full list of exhibitors, presentations, and meetings, then split them with Sztuka to divide and conquer. Lauda plans to see everything she can about automation, improving efficiency on the shop floor, and making life easier. But ultimately, it's the human element that Lauda anticipates the most.

I lost my connection to the real world a little bit during the pandemic, so I'm really looking forward to meeting again with real people from the manufacturing world at IMTS, Lauda says. My goal is to learn about real-world successes, because every company says their system is fantastic. I'm interested in hearing about who has already rolled it out on a larger scale and their experiences. Meeting in person is keeping me more personally connected.

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