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Flexware Innovation Collaborates with Purdue University to Enhance Smart Learning Factory

Fishers, IN – 11/30/2023 - Flexware Innovation, a Hitachi Group company, has joined several technology and manufacturing leaders to assist Purdue University in developing their Smart Learning Factory, a robust manufacturing facility for students. This innovative facility, located on the West Lafayette campus, is designed to simulate both today’s and tomorrow’s manufacturing environment. Polytechnic students, along with Engineering collaborators, will have opportunities for direct experience in the intersection of information technology (IT), Operational Technology (OT), and Manufacturing Engineering. The first comprehensive smart manufacturing lab course is expected to be delivered during the fall 2024 semester.

Flexware Innovation is supporting Purdue’s Smart Learning Factory in these ways:

  • Gift of Flexware’s SparkMES™ and Professional Implementation Services:
    Flexware will provide its SparkMES™ solution, an internally developed Manufacturing Execution System (MES), along with complimentary services to implement the platform. The integration of this platform will enhance the curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students, exposing them to the type of MES systems found in many manufacturing environments. SparkMES™ is used in a variety of industries including pharmaceuticals, medical device, water/wastewater, automotive, food and beverage, and has most recently been leveraged by Belden for their manufacturing operations.
  • Inductive Automation Collaboration
    SparkMES™ is built on Inductive Automation’s Ignition platform. Flexware leveraged its relationships with both Purdue University and Inductive Automation to further enhance the Smart Learning Factory. Inductive Automation donated over 60 Ignition software licenses, while Cirrus Link Solutions, a Strategic Partner of Inductive Automation, contributed MQTT modules which provide a machine-to-machine messaging protocol to Ignition. Additionally, Flexware Innovation will provide scholarships for Core and Gold Ignition certifications to students.

“We were looking for all the features that SparkMES™ offers. The flexibility, the fact that it can evolve, grow, and be agile just like our manufacturing process can. SparkMES™ will allow our students to configure, develop, test, operate, and monitor our new Smart Factory systems,” said Tim Updike, Operations Director at Purdue’s Polytechnic Institute, when explaining how SparkMES™ will complement the factory.

Scott Whitlock, President & CEO of Flexware added, “We know first-hand the importance of knowledgeable graduates. Having a lab like this will expose students to many of the systems they will find in industry, like MES. And having students learn on Flexware’s SparkMES™ system will expose them not only to a robust MES solution, but to the power and flexibility of Ignition.” It is estimated that more than 1200 students annually will be exposed to the full suite of technologies that make up the lab.

Inductive Automation's Ignition platform lends itself to labs and projects given its rapid adoption by systems integrators and global manufacturing operations. Today, 57% of Fortune 100 companies use the Ignition platform. Additionally, this collaboration aligns with Inductive Automation's Educational Engagement Program, which actively supports academic institutions and educational opportunities worldwide. Since its start in January 2020, the program has collaborated with over 120 academic institutions, providing free licensing, and fostering relationships between academic and industry professionals.

The collaboration with Purdue’s Smart Learning Factory, faculty, and professional staff presents a unique opportunity for Purdue and Flexware Innovation. Many leaders within Flexware are Purdue Polytechnic alumni and are excited to bring new technology to the classroom to develop the next generation of engineers.

For more information, contact Dwayne Butcher, Flexware’s Director of Marketing, at or visit