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SPESA Brings Together Industry Leaders for Discussion on Technology in Sewn Products Manufacturing


The one-day event addressed opportunities and challenges for the sewn products industry as they relate to automation, microfactories, and software connectivity.

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Sewn Products Equipment and Suppliers of the Americas (SPESA) hosted its 9th Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference last Wednesday, February 27, bringing together a group of leaders on the frontline of manufacturing to discuss the current and future state of innovations in the sewn products industry. Held in conjunction with Techtextil North America 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina, the event attracted more than 90 registered attendees from 18 states (including the District of Columbia) and five countries.

“It was very exciting to see the energy in the room and watch as conversations evolved into constructive dialogue,” said Michael McDonald, President at SPESA. “This was more than a professional development event. This was an opportunity to provide both speakers and attendees a platform to share and discuss insights about the changes impacting their day-to-day as it relates to technological advancements in manufacturing. Moving the industry ahead starts by understanding both the hurdles we face and the opportunities on the horizon.”

SPESA started the Advancements Conference nearly a decade ago in response to the continual changes in manufacturing technologies, including advancements in sewn products equipment. This year’s event focused specifically on issues and opportunities related to microfactories, on-demand manufacturing, software connectivity, and automation, touching on the role robotics now play in the industry. “Robotics and automation can redefine the future of the sewn products industry,” said Frank Henderson, President and CEO of Henderson Sewing Machine, Co. and SPESA Board member. “Automated machines and robots will increasingly take over routine jobs in factories that are now held by workers,” Mr. Henderson explained.

However, as many of the day’s speakers noted, new machinery and equipment require skilled operators, engineers, and mechanics to maintain efficient production. The topic of workforce development and training arose in every panel during the event, demonstrating a demand in the industry and an opportunity for SPESA to play a role in building the next generation’s workforce.

The conference featured Dr. Mike Fralix of [TC]2 as moderator, who was joined by a leading group of panelists including Michael Rabin, President at Morgan Tecnica America; Leonard Marano, Vice President at Gerber Technology; Yoram Burg, President at EFI Optitex; Kirby Best, President & Chairman at PAAT International; Toni Lublin, Communications and Partnership Manager at Lectra North America; Roberto Mangual, CEO at Exenta; Mariano Amezcua, President at DAP America; Rick Frye, Director of Engineering at Brother International; and Frank Henderson, referenced above.

More discussions on the future of the industry will take place during the 2019 SPESA Executive Conference in New Orleans this October 29 and 30. To learn more, visit


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