Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo

April 8-11, 2018

Hyatt Regency Coconut Point
Bonita Springs, Florida

Monday, April 9

7:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.


7:00 – 8:00 a.m.

Continental Breakfast

8:00 – 8:10 a.m.


mark tisdale1
Mark Tisdale, Publisher, Food Engineering

8:10 – 8:30 a.m.

Opening Remarks
 The State of Food Manufacturing

debra schug1
Debra Schug, Editor in Chief, Food Engineering

 Theme for Day One: Manufacturing in the Digital Age

 8:30 – 9:15 a.m.

Automation Keynote Address: Driving Sustainability through Digitalization, Automation and People Empowerment

Olivo Espinosa1Speaker: Vicente Olivo-Espinosa, Director of Information Solutions, Maple Leaf Foods, Inc.

Conserving resources, minimizing energy usage and reducing waste are three cornerstone elements of Maple Leaf's production processes and plant operations. By embracing a digital transformation, Maple Leaf has continued to improve operational excellence and line performance. Attend this session and discouver how automated production line and process Improvement strategies can ehlp you to achieve sustainability targets for the coming years.


9:15 – 10:00 a.m. 

 Increasing Productivity and Throughput Using Lean Managment Behaviors

bartikoski mikeSpeaker: Mike Bartikoski, Senior Vice President of Operations for Land O’ Frost  Learn more  

Capturing sustainable gains from Lean efforts depends on implementing the activities on the floor AND also changing management behaviors to secure buy in from the front lines to supervisors and supervisors to management.  Firms often overlook the significant changes asked of front line supervision and managers to move from directing to coaching and leading.  To move from “firefighting” and acceptance of status quo to problem solving and driving to eliminate repetitive issues.  This talk will outline some of the steps taken to begin this journey and some of the realizations of changes required.


10:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Refreshment Break

10:30 – 11:15 a.m.

 Next-Level Craft Brewing  

schroderSpeaker: Nathan Schroeder, Beer Production Engineer for Bell's Brewing  Learn more


From selling the first commercial beer in 1985 until its recent expansion in 2016 Bell’s Brewery in Michigan is writing a fabulous chapter of the American craft beer story.

Over the years, new extensions and older plants with legacy automation system were brought under one roof with a state of the art automation philosophy to guarantee an overall comprehensive approach and plant-wide integration. This is also used for vertical integration of data from the shop floor to the production management level. Nathan will elaborate on how Bell’s approached the site automation and the  benefits that resulted for the day to day and the long term challenges in brewing


11:15 - 12:00 noon

Ask the Experts: Overcoming Food Safety and FSMA Challenges

Panelist: Joyce L. Watford, Director of Food Safety & Regulatory Affairs, The Eli’s Cheesecake Company

From small to large operations, the new FSMA regulations have been introducing new challenges to food and beverage plants. This panel discussion will present some of the obstacles and unique approaches to navigating them.

12:00 - 1:30 p.m.


12:00 – 5:30 p.m.


2:15 – 2:45 p.m.

Refreshment Break Stations

3:30 – 4:35 p.m.

Solutions Theater
Track A

3:30 – 4:00 p.m.  

 The Future of Food Manufacturing

Smart manufacturing has the potential to completely transform operations in the food and beverage industry. Learn how best-in-class companies are remaining competitive and capitalizing on a Connected Enterprise.

Presented by Rockwell Automation

 4:05 - 4:35 p.m.    

Food Quality- Can You See Everything?

Increasing your overall production efficiency can be easier said than done. In a hectic processing environment, many problems can happen to increase downtime, cause costly ingredient and product waste and affect the quality of the final product. Learn how you can minimize these issues and increase throughput by integrating the latest AI based vision technologies. 

Presented by Opto-Engineering     


Track B

3:30 – 4:00  p.m.

4:05 – 4:35  p.m.   

 New Solutions for Plant Sanitation

To ensure products processed at your plant are safe and free of contaminants, food safety standards must be applied. This includes keeping your conveyors clean and removing all the food byproducts trapped in gaps and crevices, which can be a difficult and time-intensive task. Learn how the next generation conveyor drive design can help solve this problem, saving you time and money.

 Presented by Van der Graaf


4:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Expo Reception

6:00 – 8:00 p.m.


Allison Grealis

Founder and President
Women in Manufacturing

Allison Grealis is founder and president of Women in Manufacturing (WiM), a national trade association focused on supporting, promoting and inspiring women in the manufacturing sector. She is also the vice president of membership and association services of the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), a full-service trade association representing the metalforming industry.

Since joining PMA in 2001, Allison has held a variety of positions that included district, committee and division management; affinity partner relations; sponsorship sales; new product and service development; and member services.

Allison earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a certificate in Women’s Studies from Ohio University and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Akron.

Presently, Allison serves as the president of the Greater Cleveland Society of Association Executives and as a board member of Our Lady of the Elms High School.

Nathan Schroeder

Beer Production Engineer

Bell’s Brewery

Nathan Schroeder has worked at Bell’s Brewery Inc. for 9 years and has been a part of large capital projects as a Project Manager, like the installation of the 200 BBL Brewhouse in 2011 and Cellar Expansions in 2014, 2015, & 2016. Nathan also led the effort to bring a single automation platform across both Brewhouses and Cellar operations. Nathan holds a Bachelor of Science in Biosystems Engineering from Michigan State University.

Matt  Smith

Director of Food for Good


Matt Smith is the Director of PepsiCo’s Food for Good initiative.  Food for Good creates breakeven, purpose-driven business models to make healthy food and employment more accessible for low-income families.  Together with a wide network of partners, Food for Good has utilized PepsiCo’s expertise in taste, nutrition and distribution – as owners of the country’s largest “food-moving fleet” – to deliver more than 50 million healthy servings to low-income families since the program’s inception in 2009.  Current models include summer and afterschool meal programs, weekend “backpack” meal bundles, community-run farm stands and other pilots to make healthy food accessible for low-income families year-round.  In 2016, Food for Good delivered more than 18 million servings to children across 14 US cities.  The Food for Good team recently received Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Award for “Most Effective Domestic Community Investment.”

Tracy Walker

Plant Engineer

West Liberty Foods

Tracy Walker began working in manufacturing after moving to Tremonton, Utah 25 years ago.  During this time she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Utah State University.  She has broad manufacturing experience from various positions during her career, with a current focus on operations at West Liberty Foods.  With a drive toward continuous improvement, Tracy has successfully implemented Landfill Free and critical lean methodologies throughout her plant, including 5S, visual management, and more.  She is a forward thinking operations leader and has proven the value that technology can play in realizing continuous improvement for food processors.  Notable work includes the successful implementation of Leading2Lean's cloud based Lean Execution System (LES) at the Tremonton, UT plant, and increased efficiency as a result.  The fast paced manufacturing environment matches her love of sports.  Tracy loves working to improve plant operations, and is grateful for the amazing relationships that make this possible.  She continues to look ahead to the future and embraces all that life has to offer.


Samara P. Heaggans

Director of Commercialization and Enablers

Campbell’s Fresh Division

Campbell Soup Company

Samara Heaggans has over 20 years of experience in the food industry having been with Campbell’s for 17 years in a variety of Process Research and Development roles and has previously worked as a Process Engineer for Frito-Lay and in the pharmaceutical industry. Samara is currently the Director of Commercialization and Enablers for the C-Fresh division at the Campbell Soup Company in Camden, New Jersey.  She is responsible for Packaging, Business Processes and Documentation, and leads Commercialization and Enablers across all Campbell’s Fresh areas for the core businesses (Bolthouse Farms, Garden Fresh Gourmet, and Fresh Soup) and for new categories and innovation. Samara earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Hampton University in Hampton, VA and her Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.


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