Conexus Announces Manufacturing Innovation Award Nominees, Showcasing Industrial Firms on the Cutting-Edge of Indiana’s High-tech Economy

Conexus Indiana has partnered with TechPoint to present the first-ever Manufacturing Innovation Award at the 25th annual TechPoint Mira Awards gala. The award will recognize industrial firms that have taken an exceptional leap into the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). This year’s winner will exemplify cutting-edge technology adoption in manufacturing through a successful innovation project. Projects include implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies like robotics, data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), industrial internet of things, machine vision and much more.

The first-ever Manufacturing Innovation Award highlights an often-overlooked sector that is consistently at the forefront of industrial innovation and technology adoption. Despite manufacturing and logistics companies’ contributions to Indiana’s economy, providing more than $100 billion in Gross Domestic Product every year, the industries are often missing from the broader conversation around innovation and technology. This new addition to TechPoint’s roster of Mira Award categories will celebrate industrial innovation within Indiana’s advanced economy and inspire further technology investment and business growth within advanced manufacturing and logistics.

This year’s six nominees for the Conexus Indiana Manufacturing Innovation Award were selected from Conexus’ growing database of 60+ technology adoption case studies. Operating in all corners of the state, the nominees represent diverse manufacturing subsectors, such as food and beverage, transportation equipment and industrial machinery manufacturing.

The 2024 nominees collectively prioritize technology adoption to elevate productivity and efficiency gains in their businesses. Their innovations are centered around the introduction of a new technology such as robotics and AI and ML to provide new services to customers and reduce reliance on manual labor.

The Conexus Indiana Manufacturing Innovation Award nominees are: 

  • Circle Bev, Indianapolis: The Indianapolis-based company manufactures its own brand of products while also serving as a contract manufacturer for large and emerging beverage brands. The firm significantly expanded its contract manufacturing capacity with the implementation of advanced robotics. Learn more here.
  • Liberty Trailers, Fillmore: Headquartered in Fillmore, Liberty Trailers specializes in dump trailers, equipment haulers, car haulers, flatbeds, tilt, pipe and utility trailers. The firm implemented an innovative robotic welding system to automate the production of several trailer models. Learn more here.
  • Photon Automation, Greenfield: The Greenfield-based manufacturer specializes in laser applications and the creation of automated systems that include the integration of machine vision and advanced robotics. The firm deployed a proprietary fiber laser welding system for the assembly of high energy-density batteries used in next-generation transportation, telecommunications and consumer products. Learn more here.
  • POLARIS Laboratories, Indianapolis: The Indianapolis-based fluid analytics firm serves a global manufacturing customer base with laboratory testing, data analytics and maintenance actions to reduce equipment downtime and improve reliability. The firm invested in proprietary AI and ML software to provide predictive maintenance and analytics for its global manufacturing customers. Learn more here.
  • Smoker Craft, New Paris: The New Paris-based manufacturer is one of the largest fiberglass deck boat manufacturers in the world and specializes in aluminum boat production. The firm adopted a robotic tube welding system to automate every part of its pontoon assembly process. Learn more here.
  • Soil-Max Inc., Terre Haute: Based out of Terre Haute, Soil-Max specializes in the production of farm drainage equipment to solve the problems of agricultural water management. The firm implemented an innovative robotic welding system to weld thick steel parts as part of its assembly process. Learn more here.

The award winner will be announced at the 25th annual TechPoint Mira Awards program—presented by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Salesforce and a host of the state’s most innovative companies, universities and organizations—on Saturday, April 26 at the Old National Centre in Indianapolis by Conexus Indiana President and CEO Frederick Cartwright. Learn more and get your tickets here.