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Press Releases

Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program Honors 2019 Top Industry Innovators

Smart Manufacturing Icon Jim Davis, IBM’s Ron Castro, Merck, LION-Vallen Industries Honored with Top Awards

Huntington Beach, CA – At the 15th Annual Manufacturing Leadership Awards Gala, the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Leadership Council recognized the winners of the 2019 ML Awards for their outstanding manufacturing achievements.

The program’s distinguished panel of expert judges honored Ron Castro, IBM’s supply chain vice president and chief supply chain officer, as the Manufacturing Leader of the Year for his successful, comprehensive efforts to drive the adoption of Manufacturing 4.0 technologies across IBM and its supplier ecosystem and build the world’s first cognitive supply chain.

Merck & Co, Inc. was selected as Manufacturer of the Year in the Large Enterprise category. The ML Awards judging panel selected Merck for this prestigious award in recognition of its transformation to a Manufacturing 4.0 leader. Judges specifically cited Merck’s multiyear push to broadly embrace additive manufacturing technologies and its successful use of drone technology to deliver much-needed medicines to disaster-affected areas.

LION-Vallen Industries was named Manufacturer of the Year in the Small/Medium Enterprise category. LION-Vallen Industries is a maker of personal protective equipment for first responders and war fighters. The ML Awards judging panel recognized the company’s success in transforming its supply chain performance while investing in upgrades to its workforce and leadership capabilities to become dramatically more competitive.

The top winners of the 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Awards are stellar examples of the ways modern manufacturers are driving innovation, and they demonstrate the power of adopting Manufacturing 4.0 technologies, said MLC Co-Founder David Brousell. I congratulate these manufacturers and the leadership teams that made their achievements possible.

Also honored at the ML Awards Gala was Jim Davis, vice provost of information technology and chief academic technology officer at UCLA and the principal investigator and principal CIO adviser at the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute. The MLC’s Board of Governors recognized Davis for his 45-year career advancing technology-based engineering research and application, including his pioneering work defining and advocating the concept of smart manufacturing.

Nine recipients of ML High Achiever Awards were also announced. The High Achiever Awards are presented to a select group of ML Award–winning projects. These ML Award winners received the most votes from the judges in each of the nine ML Award project categories.

High Achiever Award Winners:
• Cisco Systems, Inc. in the Artificial Intelligence and Analytics Leadership category for its Fully Connected Customer Experience Project
• Samtec, Inc. in the Collaborative Innovation Leadership category for its Electronic Component Configurator with Instant Digital Samples Project
• IBM Corp. in the Engineering and Production Technology Leadership category for its Systems Hardware Design for Excellence Process Project
• Lockheed Martin in the Enterprise Integration Technology Leadership category for its shop floor management of the company’s Smart Digital Factory Project
• Kamco Industries, a subsidiary of Kumi Kasei, in the Industrial Internet of Things Leadership category for its Operations Automation Project
• Starkey Hearing Technologies in the Operational Excellence Leadership category for its Customer Experience Mapping and Improvement Project
• Merck & Co., Inc. in the Supply Chain Leadership category for Project Ivan: Drone Delivery Initiative
• Oracle in the Sustainability Leadership category for its Take-Back Sustainability Program
• The Raymond Corp. in the Talent Management Leadership category for its Virtual Reality Simulator Project

Winners of the ML Partner Awards were also recognized. These technology providers played key roles in helping many ML Award winners achieve outstanding performance.

ML Partner Award Winners:
Predictronics, CADENAS PARTsolutions, FORCAM, Infor, Plex Systems, Oracle, Epicor Software Corporation, Tata Consultancy Services and Dassault Systèmes.


Founded in 2008, and now a division of the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s mission is to inspire and support manufacturing executives to achieve transformational growth for themselves, their companies and the industry at large through enlightened leadership. With more than 1,500 senior-level members from many of the world’s leading manufacturing companies, the MLC focuses on the intersection of advanced digital technologies and the business, identifying growth and improvement opportunities in the operation, organization and leadership of manufacturing enterprises as they pursue their journeys to Manufacturing 4.0.

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.38 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit

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